The ultimate Venetian pasta recipe

If there's one type of pasta that's synonymous with Venice, it's bigoli. Made with durum wheat and water, these long strips of pasta are a bit like spaghetti, but thicker and with a more uneven surface, which makes them perfect for absorbing sauces.

Bigoli were first made near Venice in the 1600s by a local pasta maker. He had invented a new pasta press called a bigolaro. With this novel device, he was able to extrude extra long strips of pasta dough, which he ended up calling bigoli.

          Bigoli handwrapped pasta packs

To this day, bigoli are a key staple in the Venetian diet. One of the most famous types of bigoli is made just outside of Venice, in the town of Bassano del Grappa. Bigoli from Bassano - also known as bigoli de Bassan in Venetian dialect - is one of Venice's most iconic foods. Typically, bigoli from Bassano are made in a regular size as well as an extra long half-a-meter size.

In Venice, bigoli are traditionally served with sauces made of anchovies, duck ragù, white asparagus or radicchio. For this recipe, we'll be making an extra fancy version of bigoli with asparagus cream and scallops.

Table layed out with ingredients for a pasta dish          A table with a plate of bigoli pasta with scallops

Bigoli with a sauce of white asparagus cream and scallops (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 200g of bigoli de Bassan pasta
  • 200g of white asparagus cream
  • 8 scallops
  • 1 glass of prosecco or white wine for the sauce (and 1 whilst you're cooking...)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 anchovies
  • 1 table spoon of chilli paste
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 50g of breadcrumbs
  • 50g of sesame seeds
  • Some olive oil

Method:

  1. Briefly cook the garlic and anchovies in some olive oil until the garlic is golden brown. Then add the chilli paste and parsley and leave to simmer on a low heat. This base sauce is called the soffritto in Italian.
  2. Dip each scallop in the breadcrumbs and then the sesame seeds, making sure they're well covered.
  3. Cook the coated scallops in the pan with the soffritto for 3-4 minutes. When done, take the scallops out of the pan and put them on a separate plate. 
  4. Poor yourself a glass of prosecco and add whatever remains to the soffritto sauce.
  5. Add the asparagus cream to the pan and mix with the soffritto.
  6. In the meantime, cook the bigoli in salted water for 12 minutes.
  7. When done, add the bigoli to the sauce pan and gently mix the pasta with the sauce.
  8. Present the pasta on a plate topped with the cooked scallops and a drizzle of olive oil.

Buon appetito!