No, it’s not mealworms, as one of my readers on my Instagram page suggested. They’re passatelli, a specialty from the regions of Le Marche and Emilia Romagna, where my mother is from. They’re considered a pasta, but there’s no flour in the dough — unless you count the bread crumbs. In addition to bread crumbs, they’re made with parmesan cheese and eggs, and they’re typically served in a chicken or beef broth. I used a recipe from Pasta Grannies Cookbook and there’s even a video of one of the grannies making passatelli here. You mix all the ingredients together until you have a stiff dough that you can roll into a ball. I used leftover bread crusts from mostly whole wheat bread, hence the brown color. If you prefer a lighter color, use only the interior of white bread that’s been dried on the counter for a while until it crumbles easily in a food processor. After adding the parmesan cheese and egg, it will be a lighter beige, or pale yellow color.
You then press it through a potato ricer, or passatelli maker. I used to have a wimpy ricer and unfortunately, the metal bent much too easily with a stiff dough. But since buying this new one from Fante’s in Philadelphia (they do mail order), it’s not a problem. Alternately, if you have a meat grinder, use that, as one reader of my Instagram page suggested. Still, the dough was so stiff I found it hard to push it through the ricer, until I moved the ricer handles to the edge of my table and used my body weight to press down on it. I kept a plate on the chair below to catch the passatelli as they came out.
I ended up with this amount, perfect for two people.
Drop them into gently simmering chicken broth (if it’s a vigorous boil, they’re likely to disintegrate), and cook only a minute or two, until the passatelli pop up to the surface.
Serve at once, with more grated parmesan cheese on the side. It’s comfort food on steroids, what my husband claims hits him at “the cellular level.”
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- 40 grams (1/3 cups) dry bread crumbs
- 50 grams (1/2 cup) parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- hot homemade chicken broth
- Mix all the ingredients together until they form a stiff dough.
- Roll it into a ball and let it rest for at least ½ hour.
- Take some of the dough and place it in a potato ricer or meat grinder.
- Press hard to push through until the passatelli start coming through.
- Cut them off and place on a plate until ready to cook.
- Have the chicken soup at a low simmer.
- If it's boiling, the passatelli may disintegrate.
- Lower the passatelli into the hot chicken broth and cook only for about a minute or two, or until they float to the surface.
- Serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese.