In the Marches, autumn and the harvest are celebrated with a special regional dish, that is a pasta seasoned with cooked grape must (sapa) and chopped walnuts
Anyone who has spent the period of the harvest in Marche will certainly have heard of the pasta with sapa and nuts, a regional dish that embodies the magic of autumn flavors and aromas. For this recipe, of which there is no shortage of creative variations, a short pasta format similar to paccheri or rigatoni is generally used, which in the culinary tradition and in the Marche dialect is called vucculotti.
Sapa (cooked must): characteristics and uses in the kitchen
In the Marches, in autumn, not only the usual new wine is produced, but also the sapa, known in other regions of Italy with the name of saba or vincotto. It is a kind of grape syrup (alternatively prepared with figs) that is obtained from cooking of the must. To prepare this ingredient, one of the oldest and best-known products linked to the tradition and peasant diet of the Marche region, the freshly squeezed must is poured into a copper cauldron with the addition of a few walnuts with the shell, which helps to avoid stick the grape juice to the bottom of the pot while cooking. Slow cooking and boiling can be considered complete when the liquid is reduced by a third compared to the beginning. Once ready, this dark-colored, sugary-flavored syrup comes used in the preparation of homemade desserts or to flavor poor dishes such as polenta or fried gnocchi, but also to garnish cheeses, salads and ice cream. In the Marche and beyond, sapa can also be an excellent condiment for pasta-based first courses, as it gives the preparation a slightly sweet and sour taste, a pleasant aroma of wine and a reddish color.
Vucculotti sapa and walnuts: the classic recipe and its variants
For the recipe of this first course of traditional Marche cuisine, a few simple ingredients are needed, that is macaroni (vucculotti), sapa, shelled and chopped walnuts, a little breadcrumbs (homemade dry grated bread), extra virgin olive oil, salt and ground black pepper. Once the pasta is cooked, all the other ingredients can be incorporated, mixing, adding a little cooking water if necessary. At this point, the vucculotti can be served and seasoned with a further grind of pepper. The classic recipe can be customized in the most diverse ways, for example with an addition of anchovies, olives and chopped parsley or ricotta and grated Parmesan.
This dish is an excellent excuse for a trip to the Marche during the harvest period, especially in the municipality of Rosora, in the province of Ancona, where in mid-October the Sapa festival.
Photo: Vino_cotto_ingrediente pasta brands sepa and walnuts_Wikipedia.jpg