The region of Tuscany is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Italy. With the beauty of the architecture, the region’s rich art history and linguistic contributions to the modern Italian language, and the famous Mercato Centrale and Uffizi Gallery in Florence, it’s no wonder that millions visit this beautiful area every year. Whether you’re a history buff, an art aficionado, or a hardcore foodie, there’s something for everyone to see, eat, and do in Tuscany. With all that Tuscany has to offer, it’s tempting to grab your credit card and book the next flight so you can experience everything for yourself! But if you can’t catch the next plane to Florence or you have to wait a while before you can spend a summer under the Tuscan sun, you can still take a trip to Tuscany from your table by enjoying a traditional Tuscan meal (or two!) with one of the most traditional pastas from the region: pappardelle.
The Origin of Pappardelle
Pappardelle was first mentioned in writing at the end of the 13th century and became so famous in the Tuscan region that the writer Bocaccio, one of the three fathers of the modern Italian language, mentioned the dish in his famous work The Decameron. But he’s not the only writer to mention the pasta; several Renaissance writers sang the praises of pappardelle in their writing. The pasta was even added to the dictionary in the 18th century! Since the Middle Ages, pappardelle have been a popular dish both in Tuscany and abroad and can be found in kitchens, cafes, and restaurants around the world. Like all pasta dishes, pappardelle are normally eaten as the primo piatto, or the first dish of the meal after the antipasto, or appetizer...though we wouldn’t blame you if you made your pappardelle dish the main course!
What is pappardelle?
Pappardelle are a rich egg pasta characterized by its wide noodles. Derived from the Tuscan term pappare meaning to scarf down food, the term pappardelle are the plural of pappardella. The pasta’s wideness is roughly between tagliatelle and what we think of as a lasagne noodle. In fact, according to the Accademia della Cucina Italiana (the Academy of Italian Cuisine), pappardelle are technically lasagne (though not all lasagne are pappardelle!) The Academy has specified their dimensions as being at least 20 cm long, two to four centimeters wide, and at least eight mm thick.
What to eat with pappardelle
Everybody loves pasta, but when it comes to making pasta dishes, not all sauces or pasta shapes are created equal. Some pasta shapes like stellini (little stars) are intended to be added to light, broth-based soups while other shapes like penne rigate are made to complement thick, hearty sauces.
While pappardelle aren’t necessarily the best choice for light soups, they’re the ideal shape and consistency for creating hearty dishes that stick to the bones, such as robust meat sauces. In short, they make for the ideal comfort food. Because pappardelle lend themselves to heavier sauces, they’re commonly eaten during the winter. For example, many Tuscans eat this rich pasta with sauces made of wild game in dishes like pappardelle al cinghiale (pappardelle with wild boar sauce, a traditional Tuscan dish that’s a must-try when you travel to Tuscany) or pappardelle al sugo di lepre (pappardelle with sauce made with wild hare). If you’re far away from a forest where hunting is permitted or you can’t go hunting for wild game, don't worry! There are plenty of sauces that complement pappardelle, such as ragù, a traditional tomato-based sauce made with minced or ground meat. If you’re not in the mood for ragù, Food and Wine Magazine has a great recipe for Beef Brasato with Pappardelle and Mint.
No meat? No problem! Whether you yourself are a vegetarian, or you’re looking to wow your vegetarian guests for dinner, or you’re hoping to spice up your Meatless Monday menu, there are plenty of ways to make this pasta the star of your meal without using any meat. Pappardelle pairs perfectly with robust mushroom sauces, a simple tomato sauce, or a rich truffle cream sauce. No matter what sauce you’re in the mood for, pappardelle are the ideal pasta for a comforting weeknight dinner or an upscale Saturday soiree.
If you’re looking for recipes, we recommend checking out the work of Lidia Bastianich, Marcella Hazan, Bon Appetit, and Food and Wine Magazine. They all offer easy to follow, tried and true recipes that you can make in the comfort of your own home...even if you’re a culinary beginner. Or, if you’d like to brush up on your Italian and expand your culinary vocabulary, check out Giallo Zafferano il Cucchaio d’Argento for more Italian-language recipes. But if your Italian is rusty, Giallo Zafferano now has an English website with hundreds of recipes to try out. No matter what language you’re cooking in, the pastabilities are endless!
Where to get pappardelle
Traditionally, pappardelle are made at home, and the dough is made of three ingredients: flour, eggs, and salt. The resulting dough is rustic and a bit rough to the touch. If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen and want to make your own pappardelle, you can follow Tuscan tradition and make this pasta at home. In fact, pasta making is a great date night idea! To find out more about what flour to use to create your own pappardelle and other pastas, click here. Pappardelle can certainly be made by hand, but if you’re pressed for time or if you prefer the convenience of cooking with dried pasta, you can buy pappardelle at italianfoodstore.com along with hundreds of other gourmet products. In addition to pappardelle, we offer a variety of carefully selected sauces that pair perfectly with our pasta selection. Whether you’re looking for savory pasta dishes, something sweet to end the meal with, or a perfect gift for the foodie in your life, the Italian Food Store is your one-stop shop for all Italian groceries. Check us out today!