Neapolitan Vermicelli

Scully, Terence. The Neapolitan Recipe Collection. 4th ed. University of Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2000. 178. Print.


The Neapolitan Cookbook has several pasta dishes. 15, 16 and 17 are all related.

In the interest of using some leftover tubettini from the prior night, I used aspects of them for my quick lunch dish.

a brown bowl filled with small beads of pasta, and topped with grated white cheese.
quick, tasty, and light

15, Sicilian Macaroni, explains how to make tubettini. It is an egg dough made with rosewater, and “can be kept for two or three years,” while mine were semolina made with plain water. This set of instructions calls for cooking in water or good broth, then a garnish of grated cheese, a pat of butter, and mild spices.

16 describes something a little more like ziti, reminds us to use salt in the cooking, and asks for no more than butter.

Finally, 17, Vermicelli, specifies grated Parmesan cheese, mild spices, and saffron, and tells us that we can make lasagna the same way.

Interesting notes among them are the very long cooking times, their call for butter, and their use of “the very finest” flour, where we modernly think of pasta as more of a semolina flour product.

This causes me to consider my experiences with soft wheats and their differing reactions, and make plans to experiment with making pasta from different types of wheat at some point in the future.


Having my pasta already cooked in plain water, I assembled my ingredients and measured out my portion.

First I melted butter in a pan, in order both to butter and refresh the pasta.

After the pasta was warmed through, I poured my saffron water into the pan, which instantly transformed the color of the dish to amber.

I then sprinkled my spices on top, and sauteed for a moment more, in order to soften them and allow them to work their flavors in to the dish. This isn’t specified, , but it made sense.

A layer of pasta in a sautee pan with a dusting of spice powder overtop.
saffron and spices at work.

After plating the dish, I grated an ounce of asiago cheese on top.

Our discussion over lunch had to do with the saffron rounding out the flavor of the cloves, which could have been too sharp and bracing for a gentle dish, and the cheese’s sharpness being tempered by the saffron as well.

While we very rarely have pasta in the house, and it is more rare to have any left over, this was a fun, quick, and tasty use of of it when we did.

Recipe: Neapolitan Pastas, 15, 16, 17


  • 1 cup cooked tubettini or similar
  • 1 ounce water with saffron (maybe 5 threads)
  • ½ tsp poudre douce (see note)
  • ½ ounce butter
  • 1 ounce grated cheese


  1. Heat butter in pan
  2. Add precooked pasta, toss til warm.
  3. Add saffron and water, toss til reasonably evenly colored.
  4. Add spices, toss til scented and evenly distributed
  5. Place pasta in bowl, grate cheese overtop.
  6. Serve.
  7. Note lack of salt. I cook my pasta in liberally salted water, and do not choose to add more. You can certainly add it if you would miss it.



  • using store stuff is not exactly there
  • the saffron matters.
  • Balancing the spices is a perfectionists’ task+ only one of the listed recipes requires parmesan, it’s otherwise flexible+ a simple toss-together and heat dish+ leftover special


the recipe for my powdre douce is available on the button to the top right, “my basic notes and recipes.”


One Reply to “Neapolitan Vermicelli”

  1. a note to mention is that when I made pasta from period direction, I was able to cook it much longer without turning it into a pile of mush… with modern dried pastas, I also found it took longer, though a little trickier, to cook it over a fire or coals.
    For my pasta, I just took regular flour and worked the paste very hard and thin as I could get it… usually I use a pastry roller though and think I will again in the future 😉

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