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What Is Garganelli?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 16, 2024
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Garganelli is a kind of classical Italian egg-flour pasta. It has been associated with specific regions of Italy like Bologna and the surrounding area. This type of pasta is similar to other “rolled” pastas like penne or rotini, but with some distinct differences.

The classic Italian creation of garganelli pasta involves rolling a square, flat piece of pasta into a cylinder. This results in a triangular tip on both ends of the cylinder. This is what distinguishes the pasta visually from penne or similar pasta shapes.

Although the traditional shape of this pasta is sometimes smooth, like penne, it is often ridged with small grooves in the sides. This variety is called combed garganelli. Combing the pasta is another distinct element that some cooks will recognize from old-world recipes.

The kitchen tool that is used to create the ridges in garganelli is called a comb. It often is composed of small wooden slats held together on each end by a lateral piece. When a cook rolls the pasta over these tiny wooden pieces, the pasta gets its ridged look.

Several common ingredients often go into the creation of garganelli. The most basic ones are egg and flour, common ingredients in almost all pasta. Other specific ingredients for this pasta include nutmeg and parmesan. The cook often grates parmesan into the pasta to give it a more robust flavor. Alternately, the parmesan can always be sprinkled on top of the dish.

In the prototypical method for making garganelli, the pasta is dried after being combed, then boiled. The result is the al dente presentation most favored in international versions of Italian cuisine. Like other pastas, this unique pasta is often served with various sauces, along with meats or vegetables.

One of the most common garganelli dishes in past eras of Italian cooking, according to many of those who follow traditional cuisine of that region, is a duck ragu. Common versions of this dish include using duck legs and thighs, and a domination of herbs and vegetables in chicken stock or other broth. Other versions of a dish using the combed pasta might include bits of ham or prosciutto for meat flavoring.

In addition to the duck and meat dishes, garganelli can be used in lighter fare. Some examples include a pasta primavera, where vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes and onions can be served with the pasta. This dish might include a light béchamel or white sauce, or maybe even just a light drizzle of olive oil.

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