I am working very hard to eat a healthy diet, and I have been incorporating more and more plant based meals into our weekly menu. One of the things I have changed is to use whole grain pasta almost exclusively. I remember not too long ago when whole wheat pasta first hit the stores that it always had a grainy, unpleasant texture and when cooking it you could go from undercooked and chewy, to breaking apart far too quickly. Luckily these days there are some truly wonderful whole grain pasta varieties available to us so making the change to whole grain pasta isn’t at all difficult. Here in Umbria, we tend to eat a lot of farro pasta which has a really nice subtle nutty flavor to it. If you are unfamiliar with farro, it is an ancient grain that has become extremely popular recently due to its high nutritional value and delicious nutty flavor. This grain looks similar to barley and is delicious as a hot cereal, in soups or salads, or used in place of rice in risotto. Ground, farro flour makes wonderful breads, pastas, and baked sweets.
On a meatless Monday recently, I decided to make my own pappardelle pasta with farro flour and to top my pasta with a meaty tasting mushroom Bolognese. When you slow cook meaty mushrooms in tomato sauce in this manner it is really difficult to tell it actually is a meatless sauce! Pappardelle are simply large, very broad, flat pasta noodles, similar to wide fettuccine that originate from the verb “pappare”, or to gobble up. Fresh pappardelle are usually about 3/4 to 1-inch wide. This wide pasta shape works really well with rich, meaty ragu sauces such as this one.
I used a whole grain farro flour rather than the white farro flour I use in my baking as I wanted a more pronounced flavor. As for my mushroom sauce, ideally I would have used fresh porcini mushrooms but unfortunately they are not presently available, so I used a combination of dried and frozen porcini, along with some mixed wild fresh mushrooms. A small amount of dried porcini mushrooms really adds an earthy richness to any sauce. I decide to roll out my pasta by hand when making this dish, but feel free to use a pasta roller if you prefer. I find rolling pasta is like kneading bread, and I find it to be a very relaxing kitchen activity that I enjoy when I have the time.
Deborah Mele 2014
Farro Pappardelle With Mushroom Bolognese
- 1 Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large Carrot, Peeled & Diced Small
- 1/2 Medium Onion, Peeled & Diced Small
- 2 Stalks Celery, Diced Small
- 1 Pound Mixed Fresh Mushrooms, Chopped
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 3/4 Cup Dry Red Wine
- 1/4 Pound Frozen Porcini Mushrooms, Thawed And Finely Chopped
- 1 Cup Vegetable Broth
- 1 (15 Ounce Can Chopped Tomates)
- 1 (15 Ounce Jar) Pureed Tomatoes
- 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Cup All-purpose Flour (Plus Additional for Rolling)
- 2 Cups Whole Grain Farro Flour
- Pinch of Salt
- 3 Large Eggs
- Rehydrate the dried porcini mushrooms in a cup of warm water for 20 minutes.
- Drain, reserve the liquid and chop the mushrooms into a small dice then set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and then add the carrot, onion, and celery, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add fresh mushrooms and cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute or two, then add the red wine.
- Cook for another 5 minutes or until the wine is almost absorbed.
- Add the rest of the ingredients including the reserved porcini liquid, then bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for an hour and a half or until the sauce has thickened.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- While the sauce is cooking, start the pasta.
- Mound the two flours together along with the salt onto a counter or bread board.
- Make a hole in the center and break the eggs into this crater, using a fork to slowly mix the eggs into the flour.
- Continue to mix with the fork, and then your hands until everything comes together into a dough. (If dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
- Knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes or until smooth, and shape into a ball.
- Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Divide the dough into two pieces, and shape into discs.
Keep one disc wrapped while you work on the other.
On a lightly floured surface, begin to roll the dough into a circle, turning the dough clockwise after each roll.
Keeping the dough lightly floured, continue to roll until the dough is 1/8th of an inch thick.
Roll the dough into a tube shape, and using a sharp knife, cut into 3/4-inch strips.
Shake the strips out and form into two nests.
Roll the remaining dough as you did the first.
The pasta can rest like this for a couple of hours, or you can use it immediately.
When ready to complete the dish, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a full boil.
Drop the pasta into the water and gently stir to separate the strands.
Cook until the pasta is “al dente”, about 4 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving a small cup of pasta water.
Return the pasta to the pot, and add a couple of ladles of sauce.
Gently stir to coat the pasta, then serve in individual bowls with an additional small scoop of sauce on top.