How to Make Cecamariti Pasta

Learn how to shape cecamariti pasta that can even be made with leftover bread dough.

How to Make Cecamariti Pasta

Cecare is a dialectal form of the verb accecare. Mariti is the plural of marito, husband. I remembered seeing an entry for cecamariti in the Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita: it was time to learn more.

There are at least two types of pasta called cecamariti. The special characteristic of the one discussed here is that it is made with bread dough. When one thinks about it, it makes sense that, in an environment in which women made bread at home, a piece of dough would be used to make pasta.

Finding a recipe was a bit of a challenge, as those in Italian instruct you to get “500 g of bread dough”, while the one in English uses active dry yeast. I decided to try using some of my sourdough starter (pasta madre). Later, I made the dough using instant yeast. Below I give both recipes.

The procedure I use to shape cecamariti is personal, based on Zanini De Vita’s description and the drawing in her book. You can see my hands at work in the video here.

As usual, I recommend to start with a small amount of dough (impasto), so you can give yourself time to learn the hand movements without being overly worried about how much more dough is waiting to be processed.

The pasta cooks quickly and profits, in my opinion, from a light sauce. In the photo above you see it dressed with my usual tomato sauce, but I have also made it with chèvre melted with a small amount of butter and also used it in my recipe for poulet yassa (Senegalese chicken).

Find out more about a delicious tomato sauce for this recipe here.

How to Make Cecamariti Pasta
 
Learn how to shape cecamariti pasta that can even be made with leftover bread dough.
Author:
Recipe Type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
Version 1: cecamariti using sourdough starter
Ingredients for refreshing the starter (see below for timing):
  • 1 ounce / 28 g sourdough starter
  • 2 ounces / 56 ml water at room temperature
  • 2 ounces / 56 g King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour (this is the flour I use to make bread)
Ingredients for the pasta dough
  • 1.5 ounces / 42 g prepared starter
  • 1.5 ounce / 42 ml water at room temperature
  • ½ ounce / 14 g stone-ground whole-wheat flour
  • 2.5 ounces / 70 g King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour
  • ½ g sea salt
Version 2: cecamariti using instant yeast
  • 1.5 g / ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 ounces / 56 g water at room temperature
  • ½ ounce / 14 g stone-ground whole-wheat flour
  • 3 ounces / 85 g King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour
  • ½ g sea salt
Ingredients for the dressing:
  • ⅓ cup / 80 ml tomato sauce made with strained roasted tomatoes (detailed in the link above)
  • Freshly grated ½ ounce / 15 g Parmigiano-Reggiano
Instructions
Version 1: cecamariti using sourdough starter
  1. The evening before you plan to make the pasta, when you refresh your sourdough starter, put in a small container the starter ingredients.
  2. Cover the container and let the starter ferment in a draft-free place (in my case, the top of the refrigerator) until the following day, when you'll make the pasta dough.
  3. Weigh the starter and water in a small bowl and stir to loosen the starter. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to make a shaggy dough. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Empty the bowl onto a kneading board lightly floured and knead the dough until nice and smooth. Lightly dust a bit of flour on the board to prevent sticking. The final dough should be supple, not sticky.
  5. Clean and oil the bowl. Letter fold the dough and place it in the bowl. Cover tightly and place in a draft-free place. How long it takes the dough to rise depends a lot on the room temperature. (As our house is quite cool, I usually place the bowl in the oven turn it on to proofing for a few minutes, then turn it off. If it is a sunny day, our living room becomes warm as the sun turns the corner, so I put the bowl there.) It takes several hours for the dough to be ready for the next step (in my case, usually 6). Keep this in mind and run your test so you can estimate when to mix the dough so the pasta is ready for the meal of choice. See also the timing for Version 2 below.
Version 2: cecamariti using instant yeast
  1. Weigh the yeast and water in a small bowl and whisk lightly. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to make a shaggy dough. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Empty the bowl onto a kneading board lightly floured and knead the dough until nice and smooth. Lightly dust a bit of flour on the board to prevent sticking. The final dough should be supple, not sticky.
  3. Clean and oil the bowl. Letter fold the dough and place it in the bowl. Cover tightly and place in a draft-free place. How long it takes the dough to rise depends on the room temperature also in this case, but it is a shorter time, in my case usually 1½ hours.
How to shape cecamariti using either version 1 or 2 of the dough
  1. The dough is ready when a dimple made on the dough with your fingertip persists. Lightly flour your working surface and a wooden board where you will place the cecamariti.
  2. The dough and the resulting pasta are delicate so use a light hand in handling them and minimize the need to move them around. I line up the cecamariti on a wooden board that I can then bring close to the cooking pot.
  3. Working on the kneading board, roll the dough into a thick salami and cut it into 2 pieces. Keep one covered while you shape the first. Roll each piece into a snake ½ inch / 1.2 cm thick in diameter, then cut into ½ inch / 1.2 cm long pieces. As this is bread dough, hence elastic, it will tend to shorten after you stop rolling. Hence, I roll one section of the snake at a time, cut a few squares and shape them, then roll the next section and so on.
  4. While you want the surface where the dough and the shaped cecamariti rest to be lightly floured to prevent sticking, you want the area where you are rolling the dough and shaping the cecamariti free of flour otherwise the dough will slide on it.
  5. Place a small piece of dough under your index and middle finger. Start rolling gently and once you have a cylinder, separate the fingers so the ends start being tapered. Move to using the index and middle fingers of both hands to obtain a spindle-shaped cecamarito 2½-3 inches / 6.5-7.5 cm long. Gently transfer to the floured board, making sure the cecamariti don't touch each other, or they will stick. Shape the next piece.
  6. Repeat until you have used up the prepared dough.
  7. When you are half-way done shaping the dough, you may want to start heating the water.
How to cook the cecamariti
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Since the pasta cooks quickly, prepare the sauce before you start cooking the pasta. In my case, I place the tomato sauce into a small skillet and warm it up over low heat. I also grate the cheese.
  2. Add some coarse salt to the pot of boiling water, stir and then with the help of a bench scraper slide the cecamariti in it gently but quickly. The time needed to cook them is quite short. The pasta puffs up and floats as it cooks. Taste it for doneness after one minute.
  3. Drain the pasta using a slotted spoon and drop in the skillet with the tomato sauce. Turn up the heat to medium-low and stir delicately for about half a minute. Sprinkle half the grated cheese and stir to distribute. Remove from the heat, sprinkle the rest of the cheese and stir. Plate and serve immediately.
  4. The recipe makes two small portions (served as Italian first course).
 

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