One four-letter word is all it takes to name one of our favorite San Francisco restaurants and go-to Italian cookbooks: SPQR. The initials SPQR once marked the famously winding roads of the Roman Empire and, whether sitting in the restaurant or leafing through their cookbook, SPQR definitely gives you the feeling you’re wandering down those Roman roads.

Matthew Accarrino, SPQR executive chef, and Shelley Lindgren, SPQR co-owner and wine director, wrote the local and artisanal food guide SPQR with Kate Leahy. Inside it’s gorgeous pages, you’ll find each of Italy’s food-famed regions deliciously celebrated in all their old world, slow food splendor. Matthew breaks down classic techniques from butchering to pickling and cheese-making. Although this tome delights those who want to dig in deep to cooking gourmet traditional food from scratch it also remains surprisingly accessible to the curious, but casual home cook.

This beautiful fresh pasta recipe is a full-on kitchen project to be sure – one with a great pay-off. It’s ingredient list alone will likely necessitate an excursion to your favorite European-style grocery store for ’00’ flour and a good block of grana padano. It might even require calling for your most trusted kitchen-proficient friends! Prepare to get your hands dirty with this rich and nourishing recipe – or forego the process entirely and make an SPQRreservation!

  • Farro Pasta with Speck, Green Onions, Poppy Seeds
    Serves 6

  • Ingredients:

    21/3 cups 00 flour
    13/4 cups farro flour or whole wheat flour
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    4 eggs
    1/2 cup butter
    1/4 cup white wine
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    11/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
    2 green onions, sliced thinly on an angle
    3 ounces (1/2 cup) thinly sliced speck (or prosciutto)
    kosher salt and black pepper
    a block of grana padano for grating

  • To make the pasta:

    In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flours and salt on low speed. Drizzle in the eggs and mix the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn it onto the counter and knead for several minutes by hand; it will feel dry and firm. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and leave on the counter for 30 minutes to soften and hydrate. Unwrap the dough and roll it out following the instructions for laminated pasta below.

    I recommend an electric pasta roller or a hand-crank model that attaches to a kitchen table; either will give you long, uniform sheets just under 6 inches wide.

    Clear a large workspace. Whether you are using a hand-cranked pasta machine or a stand mixer attachment, set the rollers on the widest setting. Unwrap the dough (it should be at room temperature) and divide it into 3 or 4 pieces. If it’s too thick to fit through the rollers, flatten it with your hands or a rolling pin. While cranking the pasta machine or with the mixer on, guide the dough through the rollers. Fold the dough in overlapping thirds (like a letter) and pass through again. Repeat a couple of times. Switch to the next thinnest setting and guide the dough through twice. Repeat until you have passed the dough through about the second-thinnest setting, depending on your machine (the dough should be quite thin). If the dough sticks at any point, dust it lightly with flour.  

    Cut the pasta into 10-inch sheets and dust with flour. Lay the sheets on a work surface and, using a fluted pasta cutter or a knife, cut them into 1/2-inch-wide ribbons, and place on a lightly floured baking sheet until ready to cook.

  • To make the sauce:

    With the butter and 2 tablespoons of water, make burro fuso: Cube the cold butter. In a small pot over medium heat add the water. Gradually whisk in the butter cubes one at a time, adding the next as the previous is nearly melted. Keep warm.

    In a large sauté pan with straight sides, bring the wine to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce until almost dry, then pour in the cream and reduce until the pan is nearly dry again. Mix in the burro fuso and keep warm.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles for 5 to 6 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, green onions, and speck, and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and grate cheese over the top. Divide the pasta among 6 warm plates and finish with more grated cheese over the top.

  • Reprinted with permission from SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine, by Shelley Lindgren and Matthew Accarrino with Kate Leahy, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

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