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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