March 19, 2024 - Written by: Nancy Pollard
Read Time: 4 Minutes Subscribe & Share



Not Spag Bo

Pizza: sharing is caringMy husband’s favorite dish to order in a restaurant is  Tagliatelle al Ragù. My Bolognese grandson’s favorite dish to order in a restaurant is Tagliatelle al Ragù. In truth, what they both want (as well as the London grandson) most of the time is pizza with sausage, but the Italy Insider and her mother have set limits on that. Another favorite dish of these comrades is tortellini in brodo, particularly the tortellini from the Laboratorio of Ristoranate Arcimboldo. But in this pasta dense city, we all agree that there is another unsung pasta dish that should be worthy of notice. 

A Blade Of Grass

I had never seen gramigna on an Italian menu in the US, and I don’t see it on menus very often here. But its roots are definitely in Emilia Romagna and some say particularly in Bologna, with an appreciation for it found in neighboring Le Marche and Friuli-Venezia. Should you visit my adopted city, Twinside Bistrot features a twist on Gramigna con Salsiccia with saffron added – their version is sublime. My current favorite is to be found at Trattoria Valerio – no bells and whistles, just a really good rendition of the classic ingredients.  It’s named after a local stubby wild grass that would be similar to what we call Bermuda grass. It pops up between flagstones, in one’s garden, and it probably flourishes on soccer fields. The pasta shape is a charming representation  of this pervasuve little plant.

Gramigna pasta apparently used to be made, like many other shapes, on the large holes of a grater. But it is now extruded from brass dies. It is one of the few extruded pastas that is made with an egg-based dough rather than just flour and water or pasta asciutta. You can purchase it also in a green (made with powdered spinach) version, and here it will be mixed to create Paglia E Fieno. The pasta emporium Ceccarelli and the Laboratorio of Ristorante Arcimboldo both sell their own freshly made gramigna. 

RWM battling with our torchiettoThe grandfather and grandson do have a weakness for gramigna with sausage and cream –  actually so do I. One time when we came back to the US and we couldn’t find Gramigna in any of the Italian specialty shops in our area, a plea was made to the Italy Insider to send us a brass (I kid you not) torchietto from the famous Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo. We did not have quite the right die or technique, but I did make a pretty good short egg pasta, vaguely similar in taste if not in looks to what we had in Bologna. But it was so difficult to manipulate that my kitchen assistant refused to participate in the fun after a couple of times. Maybe I should have bribed him with pizza!

Technical Tips

There are two traditional recipes for gramigna with sausage, one with a tomato sauce and the other with cream. I am in the cream camp. According to the Italy Insider, who taught me hergramigna - cooking the sausage without browning it version,  it is important that you only soften the finely diced  white onion first (I like to combine a bit of butter with the olive oil but that is my personal heresy). A note on yellow and white onions: white onions to me are a bit less assertive in flavor, perhaps sweeter than yellow onions. Second note: the crumbled sausage (always remove the casing) is simmered with the addition of wine or water. Some recipes add a small minced garlic clove. If your sausage is well spiced, you won’t need it. Do not use an American “Breakfast Sausage” as the finishing gramigna with creampowdered sage used in the mix is overwhelming.  You do not want the sausage to brown, just cooked through.  If you don’t add wine, add a touch of rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, as the acid creates a subtle zing this dish needed Add the cream, and if you need some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce, make that adjustment and serve immediately. 

Our sharp penciled editor wrote me that I should include a link or two for online sources in the US for gramigna: Herewith is a they only  good  producer I could find in the US (and it’s in Le Marche!) of this stubby grassy looking egg based pasta. Interesting to note that I could not find it listed for sale on Amazon.

Gramigna Pasta with Sausage and Cream
Serves 4
Made at home or eaten at a restaurant, this is a mighty fine and easy to make main course.
  1. 400g (14 oz) gramigna, using the 100 grams of pasta per person ratio
  2. 250g 300gr(8-10oz) sausage meat, or more to taste
  3. 1 small white onion, finely minced
  4. 1/3 to 1/2 cup of white wine or same of water with a splash of white wine or rice vinegar
  5. 250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream, but have some more on hand
  6. Olive oil and some butter
  7. Grated Parmigiano for garnish
  8. Finely minced parsley for garnish
  1. Set your pasta pan on the stove, and start the water boiling; add salt once it starts simmering.
  2. You will start cooking the pasta while you are cooking the sausage.
  3. In a frypan or saute, melt a small amount of olive oil and butter on medium-low heat.
  4. Add the finely diced onion and allow to soften and cook without caramelizing too much.
  5. If your sausage is in casings, remove them and pinch off small pieces (bite size) of sausage meat
  6. Add the sausage meat and stir and turn the pieces over, and then add a generous splash of wine or water with a bit vinegar.
  7. Stir this mixture gently until the sausage is cooked through and then add the cream and stir gently until slightly reduced .
  8. Add the gramigna pasta to the salted boiling water and cook untl you have reached the famous "al dente" level!
  9. Save a bit of your pasta water, drain the pasta and fold into your sauce.
  10. Adjust your sauce if necessary, taste for seasoning, and serve in bowls, with some chopped parsley if desired and a dusting of grated Parmigiano.
Kitchen Detail
Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Kitchen Detail and get the newest post in your inbox, plus exclusive KD Reader discounts on must have products and services.

Share Us on Social Media:
5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments