Strascinati is a typical pasta shape of an ancient southern region of Italy known as Lucania, which is now known as Basilicata. Strascinati, or capunti is also known as fagiolini due to it’s pea pod shape, and is made strictly by hand. The technique is to drag small pieces of pasta, across a large wooden surface, using three fingers and is essential to shaping this pasta to perfection.
The particular preparation technique means that the Strascinati have a smooth outer side, the one in contact with the wooden board, and a more wrinkled inner side, the one that has been in contact with the fingers, and this makes them ideal for serving with many delicious sauces.
From ancient origins, the strascinati were born from the hands of infallible housewives who passionately dedicated themselves early in the morning to the preparation of this “poor” pasta, made without eggs, but exclusively with water and flour.
This pasta shape probably originates from orecchiette, prepared in Bari from the 1500s. It then spread to the south (Salento) and inland, precisely, in Matera and therefore throughout Basilicata. Here this homemade pasta has undergone a reworking being slightly thicker and wider in shape than the orecchiette.
The legend of strascinati – fagiolini
It is said, that in 1494 the captains Paolo and Camillo Vitello, leading numerous infantry and knights, invaded the land of Monteleone, in Umbria, to offer help to the King of France, Charles VIII, interested in the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples.
One day the two brothers, tired and hungry, found themselves in front of the Castle of Vetranola. They took all of the men present as prisoners and forced the women to serve them. The women, for the outrage suffered, served a miserable plate of “penchi”, a sort of slightly coarse fettuccine. In anger, the Vitello brothers threatened that the hands and feet of the men be tied, attached to horses and dragged around the castle until death. A young woman, taken by despair, offered to prepare a more appetizing dish. With lean bacon, fresh sausage, eggs and pecorino she prepared a handmade pasta, which was called ‘strascinati’.