Bigoli al Tastasale

February 24, 2016 / Food & Wine
Vicenza, Veneto

You really haven’t experienced Vicenza, much less the Veneto — its regional matriarch — until you’ve sat down at the table and enjoyed a traditional pasta dish of BIGOLI in some fashion.

Bigoli pasta | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThese moist, thick, round and lengthy noodles — made with eggs and whole-wheat flour — are one of the culinary cornerstones that define Vicenza, its province and the Greater Veneto region. It’s not the only star of la cucina Veneta, but it’s one of the most popular.

Tastasale cooking in the skillet | ©Tom Palladio ImagesBigoli is topped with a variety of different sauces, like: l’anitra (duck meat), ragu’ alla bolognese (meat, pork or a mixture of both in tomato sauce), salsa (anchovies and onions) and this recipe’s co-star, TASTASALE (minced and seasoned pork meat).

Storefront of a Norceria - Norcia, IT | ©Tom Palladio ImagesIn late fall across Italy, when all those little piggies go to the market, the freshly minced and seasoned pork that goes into sausage making is sometimes set aside and sold fresh or in packets, much like hamburger meat, for use in meat sauces — ragu‘ — to go into a risotto or over pasta, like our BIGOLI. That style of rice or pasta dish is called al tastasale.

Raw Tastasale | ©Tom Palladio ImagesAround the Veneto, a butcher who specializes in pork-only products is known as a masciaro.

When preparing the fresh pork for processing into sausage or TASTASALE, the masciaro minces the pork and adds various herbs and spices to make each run slightly different from the previous lots and the ones to follow.

Fresh, raw Tastasale added to the skillet | ©Tom Palladio ImagesTo guard against adding too much salt into the mixes, the masciari are constantly checking the contents. Someone along the “assembly line” will yell out to someone else, TASTA SALE! It’s from the Italian verb TASTARE — to feel, examine, test — and SALE (salt). Put the two words together and, Voila!, TASTASALE.

Let’s head into the kitchen and get to work.

Tastasale ingredients | ©Tom Palladio Images

Tastasale Preparation pt.1 | ©Tom Palladio Images
Tastasale Preparation pt.2 | ©Tom Palladio Images
Table setting for Bigoli al Tastasale | ©Tom Palladio Images
Plated Tastasale | ©Tom Palladio Images

Plated Tastasale | ©Tom Palladio Images

by Tom Weber

Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog The Palladian, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based, and is a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.”

24 Responses to “Bigoli al Tastasale”

  1. Pat Carney Ceccarelli
    Pat Carney Ceccarelli

    Lovely presentation Tom! Are you doing a cook book??
    Looks yummy as well.

  2. Marianna Raccuglia

    Thank you for this article and for sharing the recipe. Your photos make me want to prepare
    it now(It is 7:30 am)

  3. Maria Libera Vallone

    This pasta looks just like bucatini. We used to call them Perciatelli when I was young. How do they differ from bucatini because they look just as thick. I love them!

    • Maria — Bucatini, or Perciatelli, are thick sized like Bigoli, but are not made with eggs and have the distinct hole (buca) running through the center of each strand.

  4. Longing for bigoli! We used to be able to get it in the Chicago area, but no longer can find it. I usually substitute bucatini; I think the difference is the bigoli has a hole in the center. Thanks for the article and photos.

    • Hi Diane — The other way around, Bucatini have the hole down the center while Bigoli are made with flour and eggs. Those are the differences. Buon appetito!

  5. Angela Sopranzi

    As usual, Tom, a great post. I wonder what kind of seasoning the tastasale pork has. I would love to duplicate the recipe here in Florida, but without knowing the seasonings, I think it would not be authentic. Also, how does the bigoli differ from picchi (sp) pasta? Grazie!

    • Angela — It’s a secret with variations from one “masciaro” to another. Bigoli are the thick, long strand pasta made from flour and eggs — one egg per person — and NO WATER. Good luck with your recreation. Just follow my recipe slides from the blog. Buon appetito!

  6. Carol Hall

    This looks delicious! We will be in Vicenza in early May. Do you have a favorite restaurant for us to try bigoli and other Vicenza/Veneto specialties?

  7. Susanna Ervolina

    I just returned from a week in Venice and was fortunate to have Bigoli multiple times. It is truly delicious. I did bring some home to NY and hoping to duplicate the “experience.”

  8. Janice Mortati

    I lived (luckily) in Vicenza for 18 years and I have to say, Bigoli all’Anitra was my all time favorite dish. I miss it very much! Thank you for this article and the wonderful recipes!

  9. Rosanna Stefani

    Caro Sr. Tom Weber, sono Rosanna Stefani, vengo da Treviso, vivo in New York dal 1960 e possiedo il libro di Gino Santin e Anthony Blake “LA CUCINA VENEZIANA” dove con le tante ricette Venete c’ e’ quella dei “Bigoi in salsa” fatti con le acciughe, (che e’ uno dei piatti preferiti della mia famiglia!) ma per fare i Bigoi al Tastasale, si trova la carne di maiale con le varie erbe gia’ pronta? E in Long Island N. Y. Dove la potrei trovare? Dato che lei ha risposto a qualcuno, che le erbe ingredienti sono un segreto? Mi piacerebbe provare anche questi Bigoi! Grazie.

  10. Rosanna Stefani

    I vouldd like to have the recipy. Bigoli al tastasale

    • Rosanna — Let me add, if you cannot find the minced pork, pre-packaged and labeled “tastasale,” ask your butcher to prepare it for you. Failing that, just go with regular minced pork — it looks like hamburger meat, but only pork — and just create a “salsa in bianco,” adding the herbs/spices you like. The key here is to find the thick, long, bigoli. Buona fortuna!

  11. Ciao Rosanna — The recipe is in the blog post. Note the three photos titled “Bigoli al Tastasale,” which indicates the ingredients, amounts, preparation and cooking time. I, too, love Bigoli in Salsa, the Venetian way. I’m sure you can find the right ingredients in the City at a popular Italian deli or at Eataly. Let me know. Tom


Leave a Reply