The Martelli family makes these pastas in the tiny Tuscan town of Lari, which is on the way to nowhere and out of the way from everywhere. Only Martelli family members create the pasta, which is why there are only four shapes. They won’t make any more because, as they told me, spending time with each other is more important. And anyway, who needs variety when it tastes this good?
The Martellis do everything right that most commercial pasta makers do wrong. They insist on using only the hardest durum wheat flour, extrude their pasta through traditional bronze dies, which makes the pasta grip the sauce, and take their time drying the pasta. Time is the key, since the slow dry makes the texture more chewy and the flavor more intense, more bread-like than raw wheat flavored. Commercial producers dry their pasta in a hot blast furnace in a matter of minutes. With Martelli, it happens in a warm room over two days.
Cook Martelli in heavily salted water till it's al dente, just slightly firm. If it's your first time trying it keep the recipe simple: return it to the pot, and add just a bit of good olive oil or butter, some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground Tellicherry Pepper.
"Everyone should eat Martelli pasta at least once to know how great dried pasta should taste.”
Corby Kummer, The Atlantic Monthly
Download Mo's Pasta Cooking Tips
Zingerman's Food Tours is visiting Tuscany in October 2013. Join us for a behind the scenes journey to traditional food makers like this.