Pisarei e Fasò, a traditional dish from Piacenza, is a combination of the simplicity of Italian cuisine and the richness of its flavors. This beloved recipe features small, hand-rolled bread gnocchi and a hearty bean stew, offering a comforting cuddle with every bite.
Perfect for those seeking the warmth of a home-cooked meal, Pisarei e Fasò promises to transport you to the bustling streets of Italy!
Pisarei e Fasò is a traditional dish of the Piacenza area. “Pisarei” are small gnocchi (often called “gnocchetti” for their size) made with breadcrumbs, water and flour. The typical sauce for pisarei is a rich tomato, pancetta or lard and bean sauce, called “fasò” in the Piacenza dialect.
The recipe for pisarei e fasò is not complicated, although it does require a little time and attention.
Since it is a dish of popular origin, closely linked to the territory, there is no one authentic recipe. There are many variations, also due to family habits and local traditions.
The first major difference that can be found between one recipe and another is the ratio of flour to breadcrumbs. In some recipes, one or the other prevails, in others, equal doses are used, as I have done in this recipe.
In addition, there are those who make the soffritto with chopped lard and those who prefer pancetta The thickness of the sauce also varies according to taste: pisarei e fasò can be soup-like brothy or drier.
These delicious gnocchi with beans originated in ancient times from the need to use less flour, which was very precious, and to substitute it with grated stale bread. It is therefore a recipe of cucina povera that has remained in the tradition and is still widespread in Emilia Romagna and Lombardy.
Now try Pisarei e Fasò recipe!
PLEASE NOTE: If you use dried beans (about 200 g – 7 oz), allow 12 hours for soaking and 1 hour for cooking time.
- Prep Time: 40 Min
- Cook Time: 40 Min
- Servings: 4
- 150 g (1 1/4 cups) of breadcrumbs
- 150 g (1 cup) of “00” flour
- 250 ml (1 cup) of lukewarm water
For the Bean Sauce
Pisarei e Fasò Recipe: Instructions
The Pisarei Dough
Step 1) – To prepare the Pisarei dough, first sift 150 g (1 cup) of flour into a bowl. Then add 150 g (1 1/4 cups) of breadcrumbs, grated very finely. If necessary, sift to remove coarse crumbs.
Step 2) – Add 250 ml (1 cup) of lukewarm water a little at a time. Let the flour and breadcrumbs absorb it. Knead the mixture first with a fork and then with your hands until the water is completely incorporated.
PLEASE NOTE: It’s important that the breadcrumb and flour mixture has the right consistency: it should be firm but not dry, soft but not sticky.
Step 3) – Work the dough vigorously to form a firm loaf. Take out a piece of dough about the size of a tennis ball. Form small ropes with your hands on a cutting board.
Step 4) – Then cut small pieces of dough about 1 cm (~1/3 inch) long. Press each dumpling with your thumb to create a hollow in the middle.
Pisarei are ready! Place them on a lightly floured baking sheet. Set aside to dry while you prepare the bean sauce.
The Bean Sauce
BEFORE YOU START: If you are using dried borlotti beans, place them in a large bowl of water and let them soak for 12 hours or overnight, covered with plastic wrap. At the end of the soaking time, drain and rinse the beans, then boil them in water for about an hour.
Step 5) – To make the bean sauce, first peel and finely chop a medium onion. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over low heat. Then sauté the onion for about 2 minutes.
Step 6) – Meanwhile, cut 60 g (2 oz) of lard or pancetta into small pieces. Add to the onion and stir.
Step 7) – Let it cook and when the onion is wilted and the pancetta is translucent, add the 400 g (~ 1 pound) boiled Borlotti beans. drained of their water. Stir well.
Step 8) – Now add 200 ml (~3/4 cup) of tomato passata. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
PLEASE NOTE: If you want to make pisarei e faso with a more brothy, soup-like consistency, add two cups of hot water (or vegetable broth).
Season and Serve
Step 9) – When the bean sauce is ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the Pisarei for a few minutes, just long enough for them to rise to the surface. When they float, they are done! Drain them with a slotted ladle.
Step 10) – Transfer them directly to the pan with the bean sauce. Stir gently so as not to break up the pisarei. Leave to flavour for a few minutes and serve. If you like, sprinkle the Pisarei e faso with a little grated Grana Padano (or Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese.
YOU MUST ALSO TRY:
Pisarei e fasò, already cooked and seasoned, can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one day.
However, if you want to prepare them in advance and cook them at the right time, you can freeze the sauce and the raw bread gnocchi separately.
Spread the pisarei on a tray, let them firm up for a few hours in the freezer and then pour them into food bags. When it’s time to cook, thaw the pisarei directly in boiling water.
Pisarei and Beans: Some Variations
Let’s take a look at some of the variations on this traditional recipe.
- MILK AND BUTTER: Starting with the dough, some use lukewarm milk instead of water and add a little butter.
- SOFFRITTO: For the seasoning, some use the classic sautéed celery and carrot in addition to the onion.
- SEASONING: For a more intense flavor, you can prepare a mixture of herbs and spices (garlic, black pepper, sage, rosemary and bay leaf) and add it to the tomato passata.
- THE BEANS: The most commonly used beans are the Borlotti beans. These beans are characterized by a sweet taste, firm flesh that becomes almost creamy when cooked, and a skin that is not too thick and leathery. Of course, you can use other types of beans with these characteristics.
- PORK RIND OR SAUSAGE: Another variation, richer and more caloric, is to add pork rind or sausage to the pancetta (or lard).
- VEGETARIAN VARIATION: The second variation, on the other hand, is the total absence of these animal ingredients, making it a completely vegetarian version of pisarei e fasò.
- PARSLEY: Many people add some freshly chopped parsley to the pisarei e fasò, along with a little grated Parmigiano cheese, before serving it.
Pisarei e Fasò History
As with most recipes in Italian regional cuisine, the history of Pisarei e Fasò is rooted in the distant past.
Many believe that the recipe dates back to the Middle Ages, when pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena to Piacenza would stop at monastery refectories.
The monks would feed the travelers with ingredients that were poor in calories, but rich in taste and nutritious.
During the Middle Ages, they used only beans. In fact, tomatoes did not appear in Europe until the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World.
The true origin of Pisarei is surely the need of farmers not to waste too much flour, a precious commodity, and to use stale bread in a different way.
“Pisarei”: Origin of the Name
The origin of the name “Pisarei” is also shrouded in mystery. Two hypotheses are the most widely accepted.
According to some, the name “pisarei” comes from the dialect term “bissa” (It: biscia – En: snake) for the shape of the ropes of dough that are prepared before cutting them into many dumplings, the pisarei.
According to the other version, more in vogue, it’s suggested that the name comes from the Spanish verb “pisar” (It: pigiare – En: to press).
In this case, the reference would be to the pressure exerted by the thumb to give the pisarei their typical shape.
And there are legendary anecdotes about this manual operation, which is so important in the preparation of Pisarei.
It’s said, for example, that this skill is carefully evaluated by the mothers-in-law of Piacenza to determine whether their daughters-in-law will make good wives for their sons!
The Region of Emilia Romagna has registered Pisarei e Fasò as one of the traditional foods (P.A.T.) and specific to the area of Piacenza.
YOU CAN FIND THE FULL RECIPE WITH PHOTOS, TIPS AND VARIATIONS ABOVE!
- 200 ml tomato passata ~¾ cup
- 400 g boiled beans ~ 1 pound
- 1 onion
- 60 g pancetta 2 oz
- 40 ml olive oil 4 tablespoons, extra virgin
- Parmigiano Reggiano to taste
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Then add the breadcrumbs, grated very finely.
- Add the water a little at a time. Knead the mixture.
- Work the dough vigorously to form a firm loaf. Then form small pasta ropes with your hands on a cutting board.
- Cut small pieces of dough about and press each dumpling with your thumb to create a hollow in the middle. Set aside to dry.
- Peel and finely chop the onion. Then sauté the onion in a skillet for about 2 minutes.
- Cut the pancetta into small pieces. Add to the onion and stir.
- Let it cook then add the cooked beans drained of their water. Stir well.
- Add the tomato passata. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the Pisarei for a few minutes, just long enough for them to rise to the surface. Drain them with a slotted ladle.
- Transfer them directly to the pan with the bean sauce. Stir gently and leave to flavour for a few minutes. Serve with some parmigiano on top.