Polenta with Seeds, Simple Spring Ragu & Pea Pod Pesto {vegan}

Seed Polenta with Simple Spring Ragu & Pea Pod Pesto | Hortus Natural CookingAnnouncement:my countryside apartment is up on Airbnb!

It is funny how sometimes, when you are absolutely firm on the decision that you do not like something or someone, life finds a way to make you change your mind.
This is the story about how life decided that I had to like polenta, when in fact I never did.

Some three years ago, when I was working an office job, a freelance guy who was in charge of developing a new app walked in and sat at the desk next to mine.
His name was Daniele, and the first thing we noticed, aside a pair of square glasses framing a constantly smiling, kind face, was his strong accent. His way of speaking made me smile: he was from Vicenza, in northern Veneto. I loved that accent, which felt so close to my heart and to a family heritage I hadn’t explored as much as I wanted to. We quickly became friends.
In August, he invited me to go on a tour of Veneto with him for a few days (there is the chronicle of this on the blog!). We visited Vicenza, Verona, Treviso, Bassano del Grappa, Soave, Marostica, and ended up in Caorle, a quiet sea town where some friends held a wonderful dinner at their home. There, they served us polenta instead of bread.

Before I go on, I should stress just how different each region of Italy is. The Triveneto, the part of Italy that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire and that finds its forte in making the best polenta in the country, is entirely different from the rest of Italy in architecture, language and gastronomy. Triveneto, which includes the ‘Venezia Euganea‘ (Veneto and Venice), the ‘Venezia Tridentina‘ (Trentino Alto-Adige, the region on the Alps), and the ‘Venezia Giulia‘ (Friuli Venezia-Giulia, the north-easternmost part of Italy) has a tradition of polentas of all kinds, colors and consistencies, which are completely unknown to the rest of Italy. And I mean, unknown.

I had already noticed how Veneto definitely lacked decent bread and pizza (sorry Venetians, it’s just how it is), so, at that party, I grabbed a bite of polenta out of politeness, and as soon as I put it in my mouth I couldn’t believe what I tasted.
The consistency. The flavor. Everything was so intense, so much more intense than what I was used to at home.
Polenta, being the epitome of the poor man’s food – even more so than bread alone, had been present in my household of farmers for years and years and years. The point of it was always dousing it in sauces, wether it was meat sauce, mushroom sauce, bean stew, clam ragu, or any other tomato-y, oily, delicious condiment. My mom bought the only polenta she easily found at the supermarket, the kind of flavorless pre-cooked polenta ready in 5 minutes.
Still, even though polenta was definitely present in the traditions of Emilia-Romagna, Marche and Tuscany, I had never had a polenta like that, which was just delicious on its own.

Seed Polenta with Simple Spring Ragu & Pea Pod Pesto | Hortus Natural CookingPodere Stuard, Parma / Italian Countryside | Hortus Natural CookingPodere Stuard, Parma / Italian Countryside | Hortus Natural CookingSeed Polenta with Simple Spring Ragu & Pea Pod Pesto | Hortus Natural Cooking
I have not seen Daniele in a while, but sometimes I miss that warm feeling that irradiated from his calm smile, and the polenta he, his friends and his family had offered me. One night, his dad came home late and we happened to come back from a bar we had visited, and all he had for dinner was a plate of green beans from the garden, dressed with some oil from the Garda lake, and polenta. No more.
Those days I spent in Veneto, it rained a lot. Yet, I started associating polenta to that feeling of welcome, warmth and kindness, like the sun coming out after a big storm, like the burst of flowers in bloom when spring is in full swing. I felt a little fire kindling inside my heart, and I left veneto with a bag of that same polenta I had in that house on the sea in Caorle.

Then I met Zaira. At her home, I tried white Venetian polenta for the first time. When we went to S. Stino di Livenza to shoot a job for a client, we tasted the most delicious polentas from ancient varietes of corn: red polenta, white polenta…as well as al the other Venetians, including Valeria (who has a book coming out soon!!) who is definitely a great resource for polenta.
But this is a story for another time.

What made my love for polenta come full circle was Marco.

Seed Polenta with Simple Spring Ragu & Pea Pod Pesto | Hortus Natural CookingPodere Stuard, Parma / Italian Countryside | Hortus Natural CookingPodere Stuard, Parma / Italian Countryside | Hortus Natural Cooking

He is a chef and gastronomy specialist, hailing from Udine, in Friuli, but living in Parma. He had something that reminded me of Daniele: the same square glasses framing his face, the same kind smile. When he takes off his glasses, his short-sighted eyes go from tiny licorice-black pepitas to large, deer-ish irises. I love looking at him in the eyes when he talks about food: they light up, and their light reminds me of the sensation of that little warm fire kindling inside my heart.
La polenta va bene con tutto, he says, in his nordic accent which is slightly reminiscent of that of Veneto, but slightly sweeter. Polenta goes with everything.
Even his name seems to hint at his bond with polenta: Furmenti, his last name, reminds me of the word furment, which in Romagna dialect indicates the kind of coarsely ground corn used to either make polenta in ancient times or to feed the hens. So I have been calling him Polenta since day one. Funny, isn’t it?

He works at Podere Stuard, the place where I took these incredible photos. Podere Stuard is a large farmhouse in the middle of the countryside, but minutes away from Parma, surrounded by greenhouses, fruit orchards and freely scuttling hens, turkeys and roosters, all of which – veg, fruit and animals – of heirloom varieties and races. They grow over 150 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and chillies and rediscovered some incredible forgotten varieties of delicious produce. The farmhouses here are a strange architectural mix of those found in Emilia, square and almost castle-like, and those found in Veneto, with large arched porticos called barchesse. Under the Podere’s porticos, herbs, garlic and chillies hang to dry. I can see Marco working on the kitchen through the old glass door under one of the porticos. In this spring bursting with flowers, the warmth of the sun feels very similar to that polenta feeling I got in Caorle.
‘In Friuli, polenta is made in a copper pot,’ he explains. ‘Technically, polenta is only properly made when it completely detaches from the pot and creates a crust, rather than sticking. It is stirred with a long wooden oar-like spoon, and it is cooked over an open fire in a fireplace or over a traditional stove. When poured over a wooden board – or rather, unmolded, it is left to set a bit and cut with a cotton thread – it would stick to any knife. My grandpa was the one who always did it. To us, it was a ritual.
To us, people from Friuli, polenta made in a copper pot and cut with cotton thread is what fresh pasta made with a rolling pin and fresh eggs is to you in Romagna’.
And once again, ‘food’ is what we had as kids. In our memories, we are all brothers.

Podere Stuard, Parma / Italian Countryside | Hortus Natural CookingPodere Stuard, Parma / Italian Countryside | Hortus Natural CookingSeed Polenta with Simple Spring Ragu & Pea Pod Pesto | Hortus Natural CookingPodere Stuard, Parma / Italian Countryside | Hortus Natural Cooking

Marco loved polenta so much that he somehow made my love for it explode as well, like a girl who is sold over a grand gesture from her guy at their third date.
I wanted to try polenta with a fully vegetarian/vegan sauce for the longest time, and I think I really nailed this one. I used a simplified recipe for a ragu made with spring vegetables that my mom usually makes for tagliatelle, and added seeds to the polenta for added protein and nutrients.
This recipe looks long, but it is super easy to make. You can even make the spring ragu and pea pod cream in advance, or, if you cannot be bothered to make the cream, use some good pesto of your choice. Do not even think of using instant polenta. Try and find stone-milled polenta: the best quality one will have several black speckles, meaning it is whole and stone-milled. If you really cannot find polenta, you could try this recipe with grits. I am sure it is not the same, but I don’t see why it could not work. I got my polenta from Podere Stuard’s shop, produced by Pederzani.
This recipe would be even better if you let the polenta set, then cut it into slices and griddle it, so that it will get crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Then spoon the cream/pesto and ragu on top as if it were bruschetta.
It is an earthy, abundant, and delicious dish!
Marco says he would like to steal the recipe for a vegan dinner he is planning.
Coming from the king of polenta, it sure is more than flattery.

Seeded Polenta with Simple Spring Ragu & Pea Pod Cream
Serves 2-3
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
  • 600 to 620 ml / 2½ cups water
  • 100g good quality polenta (see above)
  • A scant ¼ cup mixed seeds (sunflower, chia, sesame...)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • (For a non-vegan version: 3 heaping tablespoons grated pecorino or parmigiano)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ small onion
  • 200g shelled fava beans
  • 200g fresh peas, shelled
  • 5-6 wild asparagus spears (optional)
  • ½ cup vegetable stock (or water plus ½ teaspoon veg bouillon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • The pods from the peas
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup packed basil leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 long chives, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil (preferably garlic or basil flavored)
  • Fresh chives and chive flowers
  • Shaved pecorino or parmigiano (skip if keeping vegan, and use toasted seeds instead)
  1. Add the olive oil and garlic to a pot and heat the oil on medium low, until the garlic sizzles slightly and flavors the oil.
  2. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add the fava beans, peas, asparagus if using and stir well. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the stock/water and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are cooked, about 10 minutes. Check for salt.
  1. If you cannot be bothered to make this, use any good pesto instead of this.
  2. Remove all the strings from the pea pods. Add the pods, onion and stock to a pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the pods are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the stock, and blend with the basil, chives and a good pinch of salt. Add a little stock of the cream seems to thick, but we are aiming at a fairly thick consistency.
  3. Pass the cream through a sieve, pushing it with the back of a spoon, to get rid of all the stringy parts of the pods.
  1. Add the water to a pot and bring to a simmer - not a boil. When bubbles appear on the bottom of the pan and the water smokes, start adding the polenta, little by little, and whisking constantly and vigorously. This is important to avoid the formation of clumps. Bring the heat to low and stir well. Add the seeds, oil and salt, and stir well again. Let the polenta cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Refer to the instructions on the package for exact cooking time. If you want to use cheese (super tasty addition) stir it in when the polenta is almost ready. When the polenta is ready, immediately transfer it to a serving dish. If you time things right, you should have all three parts of the recipe ready at the same time.
  2. If you're not keeping the recipe vegan, add a couple tablespoons of grated pecorino or parmigiano when the polenta is done cooking, and stir it in. Delicious!
  1. Spoon the pea pod cream (or a little pesto if not making the cream), then the spring ragu on top of the polenta. Drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil, preferably basil or garlic or lemon flavored, and chopped chives and chive flowers. If keeping vegan, sprinkle some toasted seeds. Otherwise, some pecorino or parmigiano shavings would be great!

When you eat polenta, I hope you will think of this warm feeling. I hope you will feel that soft warmth of spring, when everything feels velvety and tepid, like the feathers of the chicks and petals of every flower. Think of those elderly people from Veneto and Friuli stirring polenta over the coals.

And think of those who are their grandchildren. I am sure that you can feel a little bit like them at every bite, and I am sure the polenta will be tenfold as delicious.

Podere Stuard, Parma / Italian Countryside | Hortus Natural Cooking

Creamy Taglierini Pasta with Saffron Sauce & Poppy Seeds

Creamy Taglierini Pasta with Saffron Sauce | Hortus Italian CookingFollow my blog with Bloglovin

As I listen to Die Moldau by Bedrich Smetana, I inevitably think about rivers. That is what this music is about: at first, the pizzicato of the violins and the flutes evoke the sparkling water, dripping down from its fresh spring. The spring turns into a stream, and the stream starts running faster. That is when the orchestra bursts in. During its course, the river bumps into rocks, overflows, passes under the bridges of the city, goes faster, slows down. But it keeps going towards its destiny.

As I listen, I think of the several things that started off this new year which are not resolutions but things that I have already been mulling over for a while, and that make me feel exactly like that flowing river. 

I have been getting rid of unnecessary things: clothes, books, contacts, icons on my desktop, weight, tasks, calls, ingredients in recipes. Even elements of styling in my photography, wherever I can. I just prepared a few bags to sort stuff that I can recycle, sell or just plain trash, and got busy sorting. It is a way of letting go of attachments – both emotional and physical. Let it all go. I know my peace of mind does not need that extra shirt I haven’t been wearing for a while. It is kind of like saying that everything that is not music is noise. I let my feelings and needs dictate what music is. Otherwise, I embrace silence.

I am trying to manage to grow something. After visiting Podere Stuard in Parma, an incredible place where they sell all sorts of heirloom and forgotten varieties of Italian fruits and vegetables from local farmers, I was gifted seeds for two kinds of yellow heirloom tomatoes. I have always been passionate about Medieval gardens and was even more inspired to take advantage of the vegetable garden that is already outside my home – the ‘Hortus’ this blog takes its name from, and actually plant some of those veggie wonders. Aside the tomatoes, I got bear garlic, vineyard garlic, heirloom purple carrots, black strawberries, and a plethora of wild herbs and flowers that should pretty much grow on their own. I plowed the earth and got rid of all the weeds, and are now slowly but steadily learning about assembling an organic garden. I consumed Eva’s article on starting your own seeds, and hopefully will actually be able to be consistent and follow through with my garden commitment.
I love the metaphor of having to take care of something to see it bear fruit. I will keep it as a reminder for all things in life – not only the garden.
(And speaking of, would you like to see posts related to my garden? It would be even more doable if we do this together!)

Creamy Taglierini Pasta with Saffron Sauce | Hortus Italian CookingCreamy Taglierini Pasta with Saffron Sauce | Hortus Italian CookingGrottammare, Marche, Italy | Hortus Natural CookingCreamy Taglierini Pasta with Saffron Sauce | Hortus Italian Cooking

I am exploring photography more thoroughly. I will be teaching several workshops this year (calendar coming soon) and the more I teach, the more I learn. It is a wonderful process and I am definitely not done in finding my own voice. This new background in these photos are shelves from a piece of furniture that was in my home.

Ashley Rodriguez, who taught the part about finding our visual voice in our Online Workshop (you can still sign up!) said that everyone should find three adjectives to describe the feeling we would want our work to convey. I would say that I’d want my photos to feel elegant, yet rustic, and timeless. I would want you to feel the heart-filling sensation of my love for all things that sprout from the earth, and that I feel when I forage wild herbs or flowers. I love botanicals and I love those rustic, countryside feels, and I hope my photos can convey just that.

Grottammare, Marche, Italy | Hortus Natural CookingGrottammare, Marche, Italy | Hortus Natural CookingCreamy Taglierini Pasta with Saffron Sauce | Hortus Italian Cooking

I rediscovered ‘offline’ things: I am setting aside a little time each day to read or draw, two lost and found loves of my life.
I realize now that I could hardly finish a drawing because I was scared to get some lines and shades wrong. There’s no Ctrl+z in the analog world, and I felt like I needed to remember that.
I feel the need to reconnect with the history and the customs of my own land. Today, I have the power to to the same things and think of the same goals, often using the same tools they used 100 years ago – wether is is cultivating the garden or making pasta. It’s the same gestures, the same proceedings, the same looking at the moon phases on the calendar. Hundreds of years later, it is still the same, but with a new mind I dig my hands into the land that belonged to my great-grandfathers.

I take several minutes each day for writing. Ten minutes a day of anything can literally change your life. It is one of those things that I want to grow into a habit – those that therapeutically shield the noise I mentioned above. In the meantime, I listen to lots of music. I love classical and opera.

I plan to show you as much of Italy as I can, and I hope we can embark in this journey together. I want to be like the flowing river. Hitting the rocks or sliding by gently, but ever going, until, calmly, it disperses into the sea.

This recipe for creamy, luscious, bright yellow saffron taglierini embellished with poppy seeds was inspired by two things: one, the work of the guys from Vallescuria, a group of young countryside lovers who started a small saffron cultivation in Brianza, Italy. I strongly admire their work and am happy to help their business with this recipe. Two, a trip I recently took to the coast of Marche, one of the most beautiful places ever, which I will talk about more thoroughly soon.
Saffron and taglierini are two things that are very common in Le Marche’s cuisine: saffron from Marche and Lombardy is famous and precious. Taglierini, like chitarre and capellini, are long, thin pasta formats that are especially local to the area I visited, and the addition of poppy seeds is something I read in the back of a box of Filotea pasta, which is produced in le Marche.

You can make this vegan and gluten-free, too! And, of course, if you fancy making your own pasta, follow the instructions in these posts.
Put on Die Moldau when making this pasta, and be like the flowing river. It feels good.

Creamy Taglierini Pasta with Saffron Sauce (with vegan variation)
Serves 2
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
  • 1 cup full fat milk
  • A pinch saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 g butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour or starch
  • 160g taglierini, tagliolini or angel hair pasta
  • ½ cup grated parmigiano cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus coarse salt for the boiling water
  • Some of the pasta cooking water
  • Poppy seeds, to finish
  • (For vegan variation, see description below)
  1. In a small pot, warm the milk, but to not bring to a boil. Add the saffron threads, and stir them into the warm milk. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Keep the milk warm but do not boil it.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add coarse salt (about a scant tablespoon every 4 cups).
  3. In the meantime, melt the butter and oil in a pan. When the butter starts to bubble, take the pan off the fire and add the flour. Stir well to melt it and create a paste with the butter.
  4. Add the warm saffron milk a little at a time, stirring to incorporate it. When it is completely incorporated, bring the pan back on a medium-low flame, add salt, and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. It will look sort of loose and might feel too watery, but it will thicken up later with the pasta starch and cheese.
  5. Boil the pasta. If you made them at home, they will take about 3 minutes. If store-bought, cook as indicated in the package, but drain them a minute or two before indicated. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
  6. Add the pasta to the pan along with a couple tablespoons of the pasta water and the grated cheese, and stir to form a cream. If too thick, add a little extra pasta water until you reach the desired consistency.
  7. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of poppy seeds on top.
VEGAN VERSION: use a light-tasting oil instead of the butter, and substitute the milk with full-fat coconut milk. Just skip the cheese - add a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. The saffron has a very strong flavor and will likely cover all other flavors.
  1. If you do not want to use coconut milk, use half cup cashews, soaked for several hours, blended with half cup water.
  2. For a gluten free version, use gluten free pasta.

 Creamy Taglierini Pasta with Saffron Sauce | Hortus Italian Cooking

How to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } / with gluten-free option

It is funny how some of our most beautiful childhood memories can be curbed into a corner and be gently forgotten over the course of adulthood, only to come up again later, abrupt and sudden, stirred up by barely a simple word, a smell, or any risible detail of our everyday life.

One of these long forgotten memories of mine is farfalle pasta.

How to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural Cooking

As Italian kids, there was always that one lunch that awaited us when we got back from school. It was obviously pasta and, even though pasta has endless, quick declinations, the one I would most often find on the table was pasta with tomato sauce. My absolute favorite was (and still is) pasta dressed in my mom’s onion-y tomato sauce and a dollop of fresh sheep’s milk ricotta, with a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano to boot.
The most commonly used kind of pasta for kids was Farfalle: What we all liked the most about it was the fact that the center of the farfalle, the ‘knot’ so to speak, would always remain more al dente than the rest and catch a lot of sauce.
Farfalle are, therefore, a big reminder of this joyful time of my life, and one thing that still makes me think of lumps of umami-rich tomato and ricotta.

Now I’m all grown up and eat much less pasta than I used to. I am not exactly sure what made me remember farfalle so suddenly – maybe because I have been into a deeper swirl of emotions about all parts of my life lately, but the memory of them came back full throttle after not even seeing a single farfalla for literally years.

How to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural Cooking

Because farfalle are usually bought packaged, it was only after I got to the US that I started seeing recipes for homemade fresh farfalle (oh, the irony). I decided to second this whirlwind of feelings that are bobbing back to the surface of my heart as of late, and give these farfalle a try as part of the process.
I saved some dough to make maltagliati (of which you can see a photo below), which are diamond-shaped pasta usually added to stews and soup, especially pasta & chickpeas and pasta & beans. There will be posts on how to use both cuts of pasta, taking advantage of this spring that has invaded Italy in a wild tide, just as memories have done with my mind.

I will always encourage people to not only do their own cooking, but make their own pasta once in a while. Working with your hands can be a real form of meditation, and allow your mind to either go wild or completely blank. Your choice.
Seeing things like pasta making as a form of meditation really helps you put life int perspective and see everything as a fulfilling activity rather than a chore.

As I said, I do not eat pasta often, as I’m not a fan of flours. Plus, I got back on a rather intense routine of training / weightlifting, and threw myself in a here-goes-nothing kind of effort to learn some serious calisthenics for good measure. Therefore, I am experimenting with interesting ways to add protein to my everyday veg meals. Because I dislike refined flours, I started to play around with flours made out of seeds and pulses. The idea for this alternative (and pretty!) pasta pretty much came up by itself.
Have you ever tried hemp flour? It has a very strong, grassy smell, but once cooked it really tasted similar to buckwheat, with the same kind of smoky background hint. It is crazy high in protein and fiber (100 g / 3.5 oz of hemp flour has a whopping average of 30 g of both protein and fiber!), and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Hemp is often used as a protein supplement by vegan athletes – for good reason.
Chickpea flour is also super high in protein and fiber and has a low glycemic load, and has of course all the good stuff chickpeas have. Chickpea flour is also definitely one of the best tasting for making pasta, in my opinion.

How to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural CookingHow to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural Cookingpasta-mix

{Picture above: I dressed my farfalle with carrot top pesto and a sauce of asparagus and peas}

Here, I mixed both to some organic, stone milled, ancient grain whole wheat flour kindly sent to me by Molino Ariani (aren’t their graphics lovely?!). If you are going to use wheat flour, make sure you choose a good organic flour. Spelt also works very well here if you want to stay away from wheat. I know, the description above sounds more hipster-y than I’d like, but there’s no compromising on the quality of flour: use it as little as possible but, when you do, pick the best you can afford.

YOU CAN MAKE THIS GLUTEN FREE: You can! Because we are not working with large sheets of dough, this actually stretch out pretty well. Do add about 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum to each dough for best results. The taste of hemp flour is very strong, so I still prefer to mix it up with other flours. If you have a go-to all-purpose gluten free mix, go with that. Just be very delicate when rolling out the doughs.

{In the picture below, you can see the maltagliati}

How to Make Vegan, High Protein Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } | Hortus Natural Cooking

The pretty striped pattern is a fun thing and very easy to make. Don’t be taken aback! This pasta requires no special equipment and is really easier than it looks to make. It just takes a little bit of your time, and you’l have some high-protein pasta that is perfect after a workout.

Hemp & Chickpea Pasta { Farfalle, Maltagliati } / Vegan, High Protein
Serves 4
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
  • 50 g hemp flour
  • 50 g whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 50 g whole rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup to ⅓ cup water
  • Pinch salt
  • 100 g chickpea flour
  • 50 g whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • About ¼ cup water
  • Pinch salt
  1. Make the doughs: add the flours and salt for each dough to two different bowl. Add the olive oil to ¼ cup of water, and start kneading the hemp dough first. The dough should be supple and smooth, not too dry, and you should be able to incorporate all the flour with no leftovers. If needed, add more water until you get to the right consistency. If you lightly press a finger in the dough, a little dent should remain. Do the same for the chickpea dough. Wrap the doughs in clingfilm and let them rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes for best results.
  1. Cut each dough in two parts, and roll the parts into a little less than ¼ inch thickness. Make sure your working surface is well floured.
  2. Using a little water, lay each piece of dough on top of the other, alternating the colors. Press them lightly together with a rolling pin or with your hands.
  3. Cut ⅛ inch thick slices of dough crosswise. You should be left with several bi-colored stripes. Roll each stripe until desired thickness, but leave them quite thick, so the pasta can be al dente and have a nice bite to it.
  1. Now that you have your bi-colored stripes rolled out, cut out 2 inch pieces crosswise, using a dented wheel, and pinch each towards the center to make a bowtie / farfalle shape. Lay the farfalle on a well floured tray and make sure they do not overlap. Repeat!
  2. Farfalle are great with any sauce, especially with creamy ones.
  1. To make maltagliati, cut 2 inch diagonal pieces using a knife, then cut each piece lengthwise in the middle. You should end up with many diamond shaped pieces. Transfer them on a well floured tray and make sure they do not overlap.
  2. Maltagliati is the perfect kind of pasta to use in soups and stews.
  1. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until it raises to the surface, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. If cooking straight away, let the pasta dry for about an hour for best results.
  3. If freezing, Spread the pasta on a floured tray and stick in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a ziploc. There is no need to thaw the pasta, just dump it in the boiling water straight from the freezer and cook for about 3 minutes.

Eat slowly and mindfully, letting every mouthful remind you that you are nourishing your body.
Do the same with memories: let them flow, but do not let them rise too high. Let them nourish your soul, but do not get eaten by them.
Eat (high protein, healthy) pasta instead.


What is your experience with memories connected to pasta or other food making? Do you have any? What is something that really pots you in a meditative mood? For me, aside making pasta, it is definitely biking.
Share your memories!

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