Pasta Week: Emmer fettucine with beans

Pasta week begins with something familiar: farro. We’ve visited farro on a couple of occasions here at Al Dente, so I’ll spare you the grain’s etymology. Emmer is a type of farro which can be grown outside of the Mediterranean and Middle East. In the case of tonight’s dinner, it’s a field in Tompkins County.

Flour City Pasta in Rochester mills its own emmer grown at Oechsner Farms in Newfield, south of Ithaca. Flour City mills the grain into flour and creates a few different shapes, including fettucini. I picked up a half-pound of it at Green Planet Grocery in Fairmount, which carries a wide selection of Flour City Pasta (FCP is also a regular at the CNY Regional Market).

THE EMMER FILE

RAW FLAVOR: There is a slight nutty flavor to the noodle when you eat it dry. Nothing offensive.

STRAIGHT FROM THE POT: The nutty flavor remains, but there is a creaminess to the pasta that you can feel with your tongue. The cooking water was very cloudy, which tells me that it shed a lot of starch when boiling. This is particularly good for sauces like the one below, as you can use it to thicken.

DID THE WIFE APPROVE?: “You can buy this again.”

VALUE: $4.50 for approximately one half pound.

Because farro/emmer is so high in protein, meat is really not necessary, making it a good choice for vegetarians and vegans (though this blog does not really cater to them).

Emmer fettucine with beans 
Adapted from Flour City Pasta 

  • 8 oz. emmer pasta
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped (fresh tomatoes are still pretty touch and go for quality right now; I drained a 28 oz. can of Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes)
  • 2 15 oz. cans of cannellini beans, rinsed drained
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • one portabella mushroom cap, stemmed and cubed
  • olive oil
  • salt

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sweat, 5-6 minutes. Mix in tomatoes and beans, and cook 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a stockpot of water to a boil, add the pasta and cook eight minutes. Before you pull the pasta, add one or two ladlefuls of pasta water to the beans. Drain the pasta, top with the beans and tomatoes, and serve hot.

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