Do you know how to play the guitar? – Farro Spaghetti “alla chitarra” with vegetable ragù and ricotta
Sai suonare la chitarra? – Spaghetti di farro alla chitarra con salsa all’ortolana e ricotta
I am going back to my roots with this dish. Once in a while, it feels good to go back to old and traditional ways of cooking even if it it can be time consuming. Cooking being therapeutic for me (like for most people who love cooking), when I am stressed, I cook, and the longer, the better. Sundays are perfect for these rituals.
I am in love with my new pasta cutting tool called chitarra. Eventhough it produces a different kind of music, it’s just wonderful lyrics to my ears. Due to its shape and strings it has the same name as the musical instrument guitar (chitarra in Italian means guitar) due it its strings. Spaghetti alla chitarra is my favorite pasta, anytime I am in Italy I buy it and eat them during a whole week. Those are a specialty from Abruzzi and the neighboring regions further South. Basically the strings of the chitarra are the cutting tool. You can either use the rolling pin or your hands to press the pasta sheet on the strings. The two particularities of this pasta is first, you need to have a pasta thickness, similar to the width of the guitar strings, second it’s an egg based pasta.
When using a chitarra, the texture of the pasta is really different, more rugged and thicker since the width of spaghetti is supposed to be the same size as the depth, basically you get square spaghetti.
The dough has 80% farro (or spelt) that’s why you get a darker and golden color and the sauce is vegetarian. The traditional spaghetti alla chitarra from Abruzzi region is made out of a lamb ragù. Of course, you can use your creativity and taste as far as the sauce is concerned. I am still on some vegetarian funk lately, so this worked beautifully for me.
Ingredients for 4
For the pasta dough
- 100 g white flour
- 200 g farro flour
- 3 eggs
For the sauce
- 6 medium size tomatoes on the vine, well ripe, peeled, seedless and chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 2 zucchini, diced
- 1 small eggplant, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 small yellow onion
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbs olive oil
- hot chili pepper (peperoncino)
- basil or oregano
- 4 tbs ricotta
- 1 tbs chopped olives (optional)
- salt and pepper
For the pasta
In a working surface mix flours together, add eggs, and gradually incorporate flour. Add a little water if necessary (if dough is too hard) and knead for about 15-20 min to obtain a round and smooth ball. Wrap in a plastic film and let it rest for about 30 min.
In a flat surface (preferably wood, such as a spianatoia, the Italian flat wooden board to roll the pasta dough), using a large and not tapered rolling pin, roll dough to obtain a thin sheet. You can use a pasta machine if you have not mastered the art of rolling dough. The sheet should be thin but not overly thin, something like 2 mm thick.
When the sheet is ready, take chitarra to cut strings. Place sheet on top of strings and using the rolling pin, roll it from top to bottom of the pasta sheet. The spaghetti will fall into the chitarra, and you just have to remove them. Proceed until you have finished with the sheets.
For the sauce
In a pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and brown them. Add the rest of the vegetables, salt and pepper. Cover with lid and let cook until tender but still firm.
In another pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and stir to get flavors out. Add oregano (or basil) and tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes are starting to form a thick sauce (about 10-15 minutes). Add chili peppers, salt and pepper.
When the vegetables are cooked, add to the tomato sauce and mix well. If you decide to add olives, add at this point. Add extra olive oil.
Bring a pot of salted boiling water to a boil, add spaghetti. Cook for a few minutes, or until spaghetti come at the surface. Remove from stove and drain.
Place spaghetti in a large pasta dish, pour sauce on top. Serve in dishes with ricotta on top and sprinkle with either oregano or basil. Serve hot.
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