Gragnano Pasta IGP: tradition worth tasting

A simple, authentic product found on all Italian dinner tables...
Durum wheat semolina pasta is an essential ingredient in the Italian larder and an integral part of Italy’s history and culinary traditions. It's also a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet – a source of carbohydrates that, when consumed in the right quantities and in the correct proportion with other foodstuffs, can be eaten every day.

According to Italian law, dried pasta must be made using only semolina or durum wheat semolina and water. From these two humble ingredients, countless types of pasta can be made via very different production techniques.
There are still places where tradition dictates the rules of attentive, quality production. We’re referring to Gragnano, the so-called “city of pasta”, in the Province of Naples, where the tradition of dried pasta was born.

Gragnano pasta: a spot of history

In order to make quality dried pasta, you need to know your raw ingredients inside out. Back in Roman times, in the Valle dei Mulini, near Gragnano, the people used to grind wheat in order to make bread for the surrounding towns.

The art of milling became a typical activity in the area, with the first family-run pasta factories set up in the 16th century. Locally ground durum wheat semolina was used to make the dried pasta, a foodstuff that meant that even the poorest in society could always have a stockpile of easy-to-store food.

The production of semolina pasta quickly became synonymous with the area, but it wasn’t until 21 July 1854 that Gragnano acquired the moniker of “City of Maccheroni”. On that day, Ferdinand II of the Kingdom of Naples granted the pasta makers of Gragnano the privilege of supplying the court with all its long pasta. From that moment onwards, pasta became a central pillar of the town's economy.

The success of Gragnano pasta, which has remained constant for centuries, is due to a range of factors:
  • the area’s perfect exposure to sun and wind, which makes it ideal for the drying process;
  • the presence of numerous springs containing extremely pure water in the Lattari Mountains;
  • an in-depth knowledge of the art of milling, which enables the locals to select the best wheat and semolina;
  • an impressive command of artisanal production techniques, combined with the addition of modern equipment as time has gone on, which allows the locals to respect traditional processes.
We chose to produce our Durum Wheat Semolina Pasta IGP in one of the oldest traditional pasta factory in Gragnano which only produces limited quantities, in order to ensure inimitable quality and flavor.

Our ingredients: semolina and water and nothing more

Dried pasta is made using two very simple ingredients: durum wheat semolina and water. Given its simplicity, the quality of the ingredients used plays a key role in determining the characteristics of a product consumed by Italians on a daily basis.

To make our Durum Wheat Semolina Pasta IGP, we select only the best quality 100% Italian durum wheat semolina, with guaranteed protein levels of over 13 grams per 100 grams of pasta. By law, the protein content must be no lower than 10.5%.

So why did we decide to go higher? Because we wanted to guarantee a pasta that stands up to cooking better and stays elastic, firm, robust and al dente.

Once cooked, our pasta has the perfect meaty, firm consistency, maintains good elasticity and doesn’t break apart. The quality of the semolina we select for the production of our pasta gives it a recognizable, full flavor of durum wheat, meaning all you need to create a delicious dish is a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

The second key ingredient in pasta is water. For our pasta, we exclusively use extremely pure spring water from the Lattari Mountains, located behind Gragnano.

The same water used for centuries by the historic pasta makers that made this town the spiritual home of semolina pasta.

Our methods: some lessons from tradition

As we combine the durum wheat semolina with the water, the starch and the proteins combine to form gluten. When the dough is smooth and elastic, we move onto the next phase of extrusion, which is what gives the pasta the desired shape. In keeping with tradition, we opt for bronze dies to give the pasta the rough texture needed to make the sauce cling to it.

At this point, the pasta still contains a lot of water – this must be evaporated through the delicate drying stage. Once again, we choose to mirror the traditional artisanal timings, leaving our spaghetti, penne rigate and fusilli to dry in static cells for low temperatures of <50 °C for 42 hours. This long drying period is key to the quality of the pasta and means we can keep the nutritional properties and the taste and smell of the wheat intact.

During this period, we take close care of the product to ensure the right balance between heat and humidity. Our aim is to recreate the microclimate of the iconic Via Roma, in Gragnano, where the pasta makers would traditionally leave the pasta outside to dry in the sunshine and breeze.
Attention to detail, respect for tradition and uncompromising patience are just as important ingredients as semolina and water.

One of Italy’s best-loved pasta shapes: spaghetti

Rough, firm and perfectly sized, our Durum Wheat Pasta Spaghetti are designed to be paired with traditional sauces, but also work well with more creative recipes too.

Try them with a sauce that encapsulates the flavors of summer holidays – of the seaside. While the spaghetti is cooking, prepare the sauce by heating four tablespoonfuls of olive oil in a pan. Add half a crushed clove of garlic, 100 grams of cleaned and finely chopped wild fennel, three Sardines in Olive Oil, a few strands of saffron, a pinch of salt and a handful of toasted pine nuts. Once cooked, drain the spaghetti, add to the sauce and allow all the flavors to mix for a few minutes.

Penne rigate: the best shape to get your sauce to stick

Amber-colored, slightly rough and with a uniform consistency, our Durum Wheat Penne Rigate work with any type of sauce, ensuring the right balance of flavors in every mouthful.

Try them with this simple, quick recipe that packs a punch of spice and vibrancy and makes for the ideal impromptu dinner with friends. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pan heat a few spoonfuls of our Arrabbiata Pasta Sauce, made from finely chopped tomatoes, anchovy paste, capers and red chili. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce, then take to the table to serve.

A playful plateful: fusilli

A favorite shape with kids, our Durum Wheat Fusilli are flexible and have just enough texture, making them versatile while bringing a bit of fun to the plate.

Ideal for a summer pasta salad, easy to prepare and tasty – what more could you want? Cook the pasta, then drain and leave to cool. In the meantime, combine a few tablespoonfuls of our Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 200 grams of White Tuna Fish in Olive Oil, a handful of Pitted Olives, a dozen or so sliced ripe Datterini tomatoes and 100 grams of finely sliced rocket. When the pasta is cool, add all of the other ingredients and combine well.
Our top tip for perfect pasta? Even if you've cooked it for the amount of time specified on the pack, always taste before draining. That way you’ll be able to cook it the way you like it!