Recipe: Farro, Spelt, or Whole Wheat Pasta

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This is a general recipe for the brown wheat flours: whole wheat, spelt, or farro—the last two are older varieties of wheat that can be found in a health food store. Farro flour can be hard to find, but you can buy farro flour online from my friend Scott over at Sausage Debauchery.

The point of this kind of pasta is to be rustic and earthy: bigger shapes, thicker ribbons, chunkier sauces, and heartier accompaniments.

Farro is the best of the three choices here, as it is just the essence of wheat—a lovely aroma and pretty coffee-and-cream color. Spelt is nearly as good but is slightly more metallic-tasting. Whole wheat flour is the fall-back, although freshly ground whole wheat flour is excellent.

Let this dough rest a long time—two hours minimum—so the grain can absorb the liquid properly.

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a pasta course
    • 10 ounces, or about 1 ½ cups, farro, spelt, or whole wheat flour
    • 3 ounces, or about ½ cup, all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • whites from 3 large duck eggs or 4 chicken eggs
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
    • pinch of salt

Whisk together flours and salt and pour into a large bowl. Make a well at the center.

Whisk together the egg whites, water and olive oil and pour into the well. Mix together by hand, and when the dough comes together begin kneading—if you suspect the dough may be too dry, add a smidge of water. Use extra flour if it is too wet.

Knead for a good eight to 10 minutes.

Wrap in plastic and set aside to rest for one to two hours, or up to 24 hours in the fridge.

Roll out pasta to whatever shape you want.

[Curator's note: This pasta works especially well in Hank's recipe for farro spaghetti with leeks.]

To read about how Hank cuts his pasta on a chitarra, a traditional Italian device, click here.

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Hank Shaw runs the website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, nominated for Best Food Blog by the James Beard Foundation in 2009 and 2010. He is the author of the recently released Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast. More

A former line cook, veteran political reporter, and fisherman, Hank Shaw is a freelance food writer who runs the website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, which chronicles Shaw's search for what he calls the Forgotten Feast: The seasonal foods--mostly wild--we once delighted in, but are now curiosities at best. Game, wild mushrooms, seafood, and wild plants all have a place in modern cooking, and Shaw spends his days exploring their possibilities on the plate.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook was nominated for Best Food Blog by the James Beard Foundation in both 2009 and 2010 and by the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 2010. He is the author of the recently released Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast. His work has appeared in magazines such as The Art of Eating, Field & Stream, and Gastronomica. He hunts, fishes, forages, and gardens in Northern California with his girlfriend--and photographer--Holly A. Heyser.
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