The cover recipe of the June 2009 La Cucina Italiana was a dish called lasagnette di farina di farro con pomodori, burrata e pesto.  In English, little lasagnas of farro flour with tomato, burrata and pesto.  Definitely a mouthful in any language.

I kept looking at the cover, looking at the picture, looking at the recipe, and just knew that I wasn’t going to go looking for farro flour to make pasta.  Wasn’t going to happen.

But I just loved the picture and the concept sounded fun.  It looked really good.

I decided to improvise.

First thing I did was forget about making the pasta.  I bought some no-cook lasagna sheets and cooked them. (I’m a rebel.)  Immediately after getting them out of the boiling water, I put them into iced water.

I then made a really quick chunky tomato sauce.  I minced some onion and a garlic clove and sauteed them in olive oil.  Added a 6oz can of tomato paste and fried it a bit to freshen it and add a bit of flavor.  To that, I added about a half-cup of red wine.  Then a can of diced tomatoes in juice and some Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

I cooked it all for a few minutes and set it aside.

In a skillet, I sauteed a minced shallot in olive oil and then added 2 chopped portobello mushrooms.  I cooked it all down really well, and then added a pound of ground veal.  I cooked it all really well, added a cup of mushroom broth and reduced it all down.  Set aside.

In yet another skillet (I dirtied a lot of pans for this) I sauteed some very thinly-sliced zucchini in a dab of butter, garlic, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

The assembly:

I cut the rectangular sheets in half to form squares.  I laid half of them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

I topped each with the veal and mushroom mixture and then the second square of pasta.

Atop the second square, I placed a bit of the chunky sauce, the zucchini, and thick slices of burrata.

Into a 350° oven it went for about 10 minutes.  (Just enough time to get counters cleaned and a place ready to plate everything up!)

On the plate:

I put some of the chunky sauce on the plate, placed the lasagnette on top, and grated some Italian cheese on top of it all.

Served with a fresh loaf of beer bread made with a Belgian beer, garlic, and more of the Italian cheese.

It was excellent!

Here is my inspiration.  There is just no end of things one can do with this…

Lasagnette di farina di farro con pomodori, burrata e pesto

4 servings


* 3/4 cup farro flour plus more for dusting
* 1 large egg
* 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for pasta water, baking sheet and lasagnette
* Fine sea salt


* 2  cups packed fresh basil leaves plus more for garnish
* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 2  tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for lasagnette
* 2 walnut halves
* 1 teaspoon pine nuts
* 1 garlic clove, peeled
* 1 tablespoon club soda
* Fine sea salt
* Freshly ground black pepper


* Coarse sea salt
* 4 vine-ripened tomatoes
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
* 1 garlic clove, peeled
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1 teaspoon tomato paste, preferably double concentrated
* 8 fresh basil leaves


* 8 ounces burrata cheese or fresh water-packed mozzarella,cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted


FOR PASTA: In a small bowl, mound flour and form a well in the center. Add egg, oil and pinch salt to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolk and slowly incorporate flour from inside rim of well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then transfer dough to a lightly dusted work surface and knead until dough forms a complete mass. Knead, dusting work surface with flour as necessary, for 2 minutes more. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.

FOR PESTO: Fill a small bowl with ice water. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil; add basil leaves for 15 to 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer leaves to ice water. Let sit 1 minute, then drain and squeeze water from leaves.

In a blender, purée basil leaves, oil, cheese, walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, club soda and generous pinch salt and pepper until smooth. Transfer pesto to a small bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration. Chill for 1 hour.

FOR TOMATO SAUCE: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop tomatoes into water and boil 20 seconds; drain, peel, seed and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Heat oil, butter, onion, garlic and generous pinch salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Add tomato, tomato paste, basil leaves and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and cook until sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning.

FOR ASSEMBLY: Cut pasta dough into 2 pieces; rewrap one. Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine.

Roll pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), until sheet is about 16 x 5 inches (if dough feels wet, dust with flour). Cut pasta into 4 (4-inch) squares; discard scraps. Lay squares 1/2 inch apart on a dry baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Repeat with remaining dough.

Heat oven to 450°.

Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon oil and 4 pasta squares; cook for 2 to 3 minutes after water returns to boil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to ice water, then to a large plate. Repeat with remaining squares.

Pat pasta dry. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil. Put 4 pasta squares onto baking sheet. Dollop half of tomato sauce onto squares. Dot with half of burrata. Dollop 1 teaspoon pesto on top of each square, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and pinch salt and pepper. Top with remaining pasta squares.

Drizzle lasagnette with melted butter and a touch of oil (you will have leftover ingredients) and bake until edges are lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to serving plates. Top with remaining tomato sauce, burrata and a drizzle of pesto (reserve leftover pesto for another use); garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately.

June 2009