As a native of the Marche region, I have a personal connection to Frascarelli, a dish that embodies the essence of our local “cucina povera,” or humble cuisine. This simple yet satisfying first course has been a staple in my family, made with a base of wheat flour and rice that’s cooked until it forms lumps, creating a texture reminiscent of polenta yet distinctly based on rice and wheat flour.
The name “Frascarelli” most likely comes from the “frasca,” a small branch historically used for mixing doughs. While polenta is known for its smooth, homogeneous texture, Frascarelli stands out with its intentionally lumpy and heterogeneous mixture. This creates a unique texture, offering a rustic and comforting eating experience.
Across the Marche region and beyond, Frascarelli is known by various names like riso corco, piccicasanti or even granetti delle puerpere. In neighboring regions like Abruzzo and Lazio, you might hear it referred to as nfrascati or frascareji. This diversity of names reflects the rich culinary mosaic of our region and its surroundings.
Each locality boasts its own version of Frascarelli, reflecting the diverse culinary traditions of the area. In my childhood, I fondly remember the Frascarelli my nonna would prepare, sometimes accompanied by a hearty ragù or simply dressed with fresh pecorino cheese and savory sausages. On festive occasions, we’d elevate the dish with the luxurious scent of white truffles, turning a simple meal into a celebration of flavors.
Frascarelli: Culinary Traditions and Family Rituals
In Italian households, Frascarelli is typically served as a warm, comforting first course, often taking center stage on the dining table surrounded by family members eager to share in this communal delight. The serving ritual is part of its charm.
The dish is usually brought to the table directly in the pot it’s cooked in or spread on a large, wooden cutting board, steaming and fragrant. It’s not uncommon to see it generously topped with a homemade ragù or a simple but flavorful combination of olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs, depending on the season and occasion. In my experience, the dish is often enjoyed at a leisurely pace, with conversation flowing as freely as the wine.
Each person at the table takes their portion, with the eldest usually served first as a sign of respect. Grated cheese, such as Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino, is passed around, allowing everyone to add as much or as little as they like to their Frascarelli.
It’s a dish that adapts to the rhythm of the seasons and local festivities. For instance, during truffle season, shavings of the precious tuber transform the humble frascarelli into a luxurious feast. And during harvest time, it might be enriched with the robust flavors of freshly picked vegetables from the garden.
Frascarelli recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide to Authentic Italian Frascarelli
Frascarelli is a rustic Italian dish, simple yet comforting. The process involves boiling rice and preparing a separate flour and egg mixture, which is then combined with the rice to create a base with a consistency akin to a loose polenta. This base is then layered with with various sauces and toppings according to regional preferences and personal tastes.
Ingredients for the base
These quantities are meant to serve 4 people. If you need to adjust the recipe for more people, you can scale up the ingredients proportionally. For example, to serve 8 people, you would double the amounts:
- Water: 2 liters
- Flour 00: 400 grams
- Rice: 50 grams (like Carnraoli)
- Egg: 1
These ingredients form the base of traditional Frascarelli, a dish that’s simple yet rich in heritage. The dish is often customized with various sauces and toppings according to regional preferences and personal tastes.
Step-by-Step procedure to prepare Frascarelli
To prepare Frascarelli, follow these steps:
- Boil Water: Start with 2 liters of water in a large pot.
- Prepare the Mixture: Mix 400g of flour with an egg until it forms a coarse, powdery texture with small lumps.
- Cook the Rice: Add 50g of rice to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the Mixture to the Rice: Sprinkle the flour and egg mixture into the pot with rice, stirring continuously.
- Cook the Base: Cook for 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens to a consistency similar to loose polenta.
- Add Top and Serve: In a wooden bowl, pour a classic ragù, add the cooked base, then top with more ragù. Garnish with Parmesan and fresh basil, and serve hot and steaming.
Tips and Tricks
- a pro tip is to use a conservative amount of water; just a quart is sufficient for cooking the pasta. This is crucial for obtaining the dish’s characteristic texture.!
- Forming the pasta is an exercise in patience: take your time to ensure the texture turns out just right!
Drawing from my family’s traditional recipe, I prefer to elevate Frascarelli with a robust ragù sauce and a garnish of Parmesan and fresh basil, served steaming as a tribute to the essence of Italian cooking. However, the dish’s versatility allows for variations, such as a rich sausage and pecorino cheese sauce or a simple, classic tomato sauce, catering to diverse tastes while maintaining its Italian roots.
Grab the infographic I’ve tailored for you and let it guide you to create an exquisite homemade Frascarelli—effortlessly!
Gluten-Free Frascarelli for the Health-Conscious
The Frascarelli recipe can be also a perfect blend of health and taste for those with dietary restrictions. For a gluten-free, egg-free version see below my favourite recipe:
- Key Ingredients: Utilize gluten-free flour for the Frascarelli and a rich blend of guanciale, onion, chili, canned tomatoes, and dry white wine for the sauce.
- Simple Process: The recipe involves creating frascarelli by sprinkling and moistening gluten-free flour, then shaping it into small, delightful granules.
- Cooking Method: These granules are cooked in boiling salted water, ensuring a perfect texture.
- Sauce Preparation: A savory sauce is prepared by frying onion and guanciale, then enriching it with wine, tomatoes, and seasonings, simmered to perfection.
- Serving: The cooked frascarelli is lavishly topped with this hearty sauce.
For the complete recipe and detailed instructions, please visit the original recipe page.
Frascarelli Across Italy: Discovering Regional Variations
The Frascarelli can have different names and its recipe varies across different regions. This table highlights the distinct approaches of Marche, Abruzzo, Umbria, and Lazio in preparing this versatile meal.. Whether served with a rich sauce or as a comforting broth, the Frascarelli embodies the diversity and richness of Italian regional cuisine.
|Flour, rice, water, eggs
|Mix flour eggs and rice with water to create small granules, cook like polenta
|Serve like a polenta dish with chosen sauce like ragù
|Flour, hot water
|Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and then spray hot water over it, either with your hands or using a “frasca” (a small brush made from twigs or branches). This process will create small, irregular clumps of flour. With the palm of your hand or fingers, gently roll these clumps to form tiny pasta balls. Finally, pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any uncombined flour, leaving behind small, irregularly shaped pasta granules.
|Serve with simple sauce made of carrot, celery, and onion with plenty of grated cheese, or a richer sauce containing sausages
|Water, flour, salt, optional marjoram
|Begin by boiling salted water, then gradually add flour while stirring to avoid lumps. Cook for about 10 minutes until you achieve a somewhat fluid consistency, adding more water if necessary.
|Add a few marjoram leaves, dress with raw olive oil, and serve immediately
|Spread flour on a surface, then sprinkle water over it with fingers, and gently mix with the hand. This process creates small clumps or granules. These granules are then passed through a sieve to remove excess flour and cooked like pasta
|Fry onion and celery, then add sausages and guanciale. Pour in tomato, cook, and add water if needed. Season the frascarelli on the board with the sauce and plenty of pecorino cheese.