Martha+Tom

Pasta: Code di Topo

You may have heard that much Italian cuisine was born out of deep poverty, but would you believe they go so far as to eat mouse tails? Mouse tails made from pasta, that is. Code di topo are another gem from Oretta Zanini de Vita’s Encyclopedia of Pasta.

Although not made from actual mouse tails, this simple pasta shape is a testament to economy: the dough consists of only flour and water. Usually, I make pasta using flour, eggs and water in the food processor, pulsing the flour before adding the eggs and just enough water to bring everything together in a ball. I was glad to discover that this technique — using the food processor — works just as well omitting the eggs, slowly adding water until the dough coalesces. As with egg pasta, pasta made this way needs to rest for a half hour or so to allow the gluten to relax and make the dough workable.

The formation of the code was simple — probably a great activity for young helpers. Pinching off a piece of dough the size of a walnut, one simply rolls the dough out into a thin thread with one end tapered to look like  a mouse’s tail. The pasta should dry slightly on a kitchen towel before boiling it al dente.

Traditionally, this pasta is served with potatoes — a concept I couldn’t quite get my head around — but in Rovere, it is served in a simple sauce of garlic, chilis, olive oil and walnuts. This is one of my favorite pasta sauces, all the more so because I usually have all of those ingredients on hand. And that’s a good thing, since by the time you’ve decided to feast on mouse tails, you’ve pretty much ruled out going to the store.

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3 comments on “Pasta: Code di Topo”

  1. Amy 7 March, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Very fun post, T&M–

  2. iBurt 22 March, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Oretta’s book is a true gem & gift to those of us who love Italian cuisine & the story of food. This looks like it turned out incredible.

  3. Tom 22 March, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Sometimes I get a little hung up on the writing — and that may be something to do with the translation — but it is always exciting to turn the page and discover a new pasta shape with a good story behind it.

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