If you want to know which is the most unusual name given to a pasta, strozzapreti or strangulaprevete (which both means ‘strangles priests’) are at the top of the list. And don't think that they are a typical regional dish because they are present in various variations throughout the Italian peninsula.
Generally, they are a sort of spaghetti made just with water and soft wheat flour, but in Trentino they become gnocchi made of stale bread (with spinach, eggs and parmesan) and in Emilia Romagna they are a short, twisted pasta. In Abruzzo they are made with durum wheat and in the south Italy they are generally rolled with an underwire. But they are all still called strozzapreti - strangles priests.
Their glory was celebrated ironically by the Roman poet Gioacchino Belli in many of his sonnets and always in an irreverent way towards the prelates.
In any case, their name certainly does not denote a boundless love towards churchgoers, but rather a mockery of the great eating of the clergy. It is said that their name comes from the Council of Trent where the prelates ate so many of them that they ended up choking. Other stories, however, trace them back to the fact that women prepared them for the priests on holidays while their husbands who were forced to eat the leftovers wished the priests to 'choke'.
Whatever the history of this pasta is, today we become vegan for a day with a plate of strozzapreti and an unusual vegan 'cheese' made from vegetable milk.
Strozzapreti recipe with Roman broccoli, vegan gorgonzola, multi-grain biscuit crumbs
Let's start by preparing the strozzapreti using whole durum wheat semolina. We put the semolina in a bowl with warm water and a little oil and knead until it forms the usual ball which we will leave to rest.
Meantime, we clean the Roman broccoli, divide them into florets and boil them in boiling salted water. We leave them a little ‘al dente’ (crunchy) and put them to flavor in a pan where we have made a base of garlic and oil.
We take the dough and roll it out into a sheet a couple of millimeters high, which we cut into ribbons which we then roll up.
While we boil the pasta, we add the pasta cooking water to the pan and mash the broccoli with a fork. Now the sauce is ready and we add the drained pasta al dente to flavor it.
At this point we add the vegan gorgonzola, which is much less dense than the normal one, skip the pasta again, add some biscuit crumbs made with multi-grains (rye, barley, oats) and serve on the plate.
Now it may seem strange to you that I used the feminine for gorgonzola but I am a traditionalist and I grew up with this name. On the other hand, mozzarella and other cheeses are also feminine.
In the glass I chose an excellent wine: a superior Sangiovese di Romagna from the Zavalloni company. A wine that is partly aged in tonneau barrels for 22 months and then 4 months in the bottle. A pleasure.