There’s a pasta shape for every village in Italy, with native cooks crafting endless combinations of water, flour, and eggs. For Chef de Cuisine Adam Nadel of New York City’s A Voce Columbus, growing as an Italian cook means exploring these village specialties—one pasta shape and technique at a time.
Exploring historic pasta types, Nadel encountered lumachelle from Italy’s Le Marche region. “We do a lot of research into our pastas, and this was a rather obscure shape that I thought would be fun to interpret,” says Nadel. Le Marche is home to an annual snail festival each June, and the spiral-shaped pasta is named after the “little snails” they resemble.
Working with the lumachelle not only offers Nadel and his diners a chance to dig into another layer of Italian gastronomy, but it also introduces his staff to a new technique. “I went with this pasta to highlight an under-appreciated pasta shape,” says Nadel. “It’s a very technical process, and I wanted to showcase A Voce’s mastery of different pasta shapes.”
Nadel Preparing Pasta
Nadel Cutting Pasta
Nadel Brushing Pasta
Nadel Curling Pasta
Nadel Sprinkling Pasta
Nadel Pouring Noodles
Noodles Boiling Noodles
Lumachelle Pasta, Snails, Garlic, Chile, Orange, and Mint
When Nadel decided to put the Bugle-esque lumachelle on the menu, his sous chefs groaned at the three-hour process of kneading, rolling, cutting, and winding individual strips of pasta around a dowel. Further, to keep the conical pasta intact during cooking, his cooks have to brush the pasta with egg wash and partially dry the shells. “I believe you can taste the difference in ingredients that have this much time and devotion put into them,” says Nadel.
Labor aside, lumachelle is still rustic pasta, most often paired with broth or cream sauce and originally designed to feed not-so-glamorous Benedictine nuns. To bring lumachelle into A Voce’s world of fine dining, escargot-lover Nadel pairs the pasta with its namesake snails—enhancing the dish with a splash of subtle irony.
Nadel braises basil-finished snails with garlic, butter, and chili flakes. The combination stands up to the egg-heavy pasta without overwhelming it—and it’s just plain fun. “We spend a lot of time working and reworking our pastas to create something special,” says Nadel. And with lumachelle, Nadel brings to life a historic pasta in a completely modern context.
With a pasta machine, roll pasta dough into 1/8-inch sheets.
Cut into ¼-inch x 10-inch long strips and brush with egg wash.
With a thin wooden dowel, about the diameter of a pencil, take the pasta strip and roll it in concentric circles down the length of the dowel, making sure the overlap of the rings are the same the entire length down the dowel.
When the whole strip has been rolled, slide the pasta off of the dowel, and place upright to partially dry.