Tuscia, the land of the Etruscans, the name Tuscia derives from the Latin pronounced ‘tuskia’. We owe much more to the Etruscans than we imagine and sometimes it is nice to taste the flavours of Tuscia and remember the past.
The Etruscans were the only people who, like us, had their two main meals sitting, or rather, they were lying down. Women could also participate in their banquets eating and drinking together, they were innovators.
Tuscia was a very rich region and from the paintings on the tombs we know that grapevines and olives were cultivated, which perhaps Etruscans had brought to Italy, and animals were raised. They had a very rich diet of proteins: they ate game, legumes, vegetables at a time when many civilizations struggled to eat, the Etruscans had plenty of foods.
Today’s recipe does not have such deep roots but the ingredients smell of Tuscia. The beans we will use in this recipe are the “solfini” and are the sons of the beans that arrived from the Americas, and not from northern Africa like those used by the Etruscans. The solfini (sulphines) are relatives of the verdelli beans and cousins of the zolfini of the Val d’Arno and have found their habitat in the volcanic soil around Lake Bolsena.
Solfini beans and frascarelli, a traditional pasta of water and flour, are the main ingredients of this soup.
Recipe of the Frascarelli pasta with Solfini Beans
Take the dried beans and soak them overnight in water. The next day boil them for about 1 hour in water flavoured with sage leaves, a bay leaf and a clove of garlic. We will only salt it almost at the end of cooking.
While the beans are cooking we prepare the frascarelli which are a pasta of water and flour that takes their name from the ‘frasca’, a tool that was used to wet the flour. In fact, the flour is placed on a pastry board and with a branch the flour is splashed with a rotating motion. Then the flour is turned over and in contacting the drops of water, will create irregular balls, the frascarelli.
For the soup, in a pan we prepare the base by putting oil and garlic that we brown. Add the beans when ready, and flavour the whole thing. Then we will blend 3/4 of the beans with an immersion mixer while the remainder will be kept for the final dish.
At this point we add water or vegetable broth and bring the water to the boil again in order to cook the frascarelli. When the pasta is cooked we serve it in a deep dish decorating with chives, freshly ground pepper and a splash of oil and some of the whole beans that we had left aside.
The wine? Staying in Tuscia I would say a Montefiascone, a “Luce del Lago” made with Roscetto grapes left to macerate at low temperature to maintain the aromas. Then the grapes are subjected to soft pressing with a maximum yield of 60%. Thanks to this procedure, a delicate wine is obtained exactly like the dish.
Flavours of Tuscia that go so well together as far as giving a good mood.