Passatelli: the real and only spaghetti bolognese

Exclusively hand-made with kitchen scraps such as stale bread, hardened cheese, eggs and beef marrow bones.
Passatelli, or rather passatelli soup, is a poor but definitely tasty dish typical of the ancient Emilia culinary tradition.
Learn all about them to arrive in Bologna hungry and well prepared.

The origins of passatelli

Passatelli is a pasta obtained by passing the dough through a special tool called fer (the iron).
​It's quite similar to a ricer, formed by a slightly domed metal disc with a diameter of 15 cm, with holes of about 4-5 mm and comes with two side handles for crushing hard on the dough until it comes out of the holes, realizing that the typical shape: thick and coarse spaghetti.

In the past, passatelli were prepared only for important occasions: Easter, first and foremost, but also births, baptisms, or weddings, because it was necessary to use bread and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese: at that time a real luxury!

​So at the houses of the rich, passatelli were made of a lot of cheese, while at the farmer's houses the main ingredient was stale bread.
Passatelli cacio e pepe at Aspasso Food Truck in Cesena

How to make passatelli

The spaghetti obtained after the passing through the fer are cut with a length of about 4cm and, according to the tradition, are cooked and served in beef broth as a soup.
The ingredients are very simple: bread crumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, eggs, nutmeg and lemon zest.
However, it requires great skills in the working of the dough to get the right consistency.

The so-called azdore, the wives of the head of the family who represented the true guides of the house and the kitchen, certainly didn't lack these qualities.

​We unveil some of their secrets and techniques during our Bologna cooking class.
My grandmother Teresa preparing passatelli

Where to eat passatelli

Passatelli aren't just a soup but you can find them as a pasta.

Near Ravenna and Cesane you can find them dried and seasoned in various ways, such as with sauces based on vegetables, meat, including sausage, mortadella, bacon for Carbonara, etc.
At Bagnacavallo (RA), at the fair of St.Michele, you can find them with a sauce of Bursôn, a famous local wine.

Restaurant in Bologna
Sfoglia Rina
Via Francesco Petrarca, 11 - 40033 - Casalecchio di Reno (BO)
Tel. +39 051 6135389

Osteria N° 7
Via A. Costa 7, 40067 Rastignano di Pianoro (BO)
Tel. +39 051 742017

Osteria Broaccaindosso
Via Broccaindosso7, 40125 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 234153

Restaurant in Romagna
La Baita Faenza
Via Naviglio, 25c, 48018 Faenza (RA)
Tel. +39 0546 21584

Casa Artusi
Via Andrea Costa, 31, 47034 Forlimpopoli (FC)
Tel. +39 0543 748049

Where to buy raw passatelli
Panificio Atti
Via Caprarie 7 - Via Drapperie 6 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 233349

Where to buy the tool to make passatelli
Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo
Via Drapperie, 12/b, 40124 Bologna
Tel. +39 051 263411
Passatelli with porcini at Osteria Broccaindosso, Bologna

The recipe of passatelli

Ingredients for 4 people

For the dough:
3 eggs
200 grams of Parmesan cheese
200 grams of bread crumbs
peel of 1/2 lemon rind
3 tablespoons of flour
1 grated nutmeg
1 pinch of salt

For the broth :
3-4 liters of water
1/4 piece of hen
1 piece of beef
1 stalk of celery
1 carrot
3 dice
2 tomatoes


- Prepare the broth putting all the ingredients together and slowly cook it for about 2 hours.
Then remove the meat and the vegetables (you will eat them as the second course) and pass the broth through a sieve.

- Place the bread crumbs in the center of a cutting board (better if wood made) and create a sort of fountain.
With one hand make a hole in the middle and fill the hole with the eggs, previously beaten.
Add the Parmesan cheese, grated nutmeg, lemon rind, salt and pepper.

- Mix the ingredients with your hands until the dough reaches a certain firmness and elasticity. Let the dough rest at least 5 minutes.

- Then take a small amount of dough at a time and press it into the mold or a potato masher. Cut the passatelli of a length of about 4 cm and place them on a towel without overlapping; boil the broth and dip the passatelli​​. They will float to the surface when they are ready (4/5 min).

- Serve passatelli in a bowl with hot broth.

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