Saffron Chitarra – Whole Wheat Pasta


For the Pasta Dough:

  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 pinch saffron, ground fine in a mortar and pestle
  • 1¼ cups whole-grain durum wheat flour
  • ½ cup semolina flour
  • 3 eggs

For the Whole Wheat Pasta Dish:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup plain bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • ½ pound (6 leaves) Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1½ pounds Manila clams, rinsed
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 pound fresh whole wheat pasta
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped


1. Make the pasta dough: In a small bowl, combine the water and saffron, and let steep as it cools slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole-grain and semolina flours. Push the flour mixture along the sides of the bowl and form a well for the eggs. Add the eggs and saffron water, and, using your fingertips, gradually push the flour into the eggs and water until it just starts to form a dough. When it’s nearly combined, transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough using the heel of your hand, rotating and repeating, 10 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and rest for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

3. While the dough rests, make the bread crumbs: In a small sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and stir the mixture frequently until the bread crumbs are toasted and golden brown in color, 7 to 8 minutes. Season the bread crumbs with salt, turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Roll out the pasta dough: Using a bench scraper, divide the dough in two. Keep half of the dough covered with a damp towel while rolling out the remaining half through a pasta machine to about ⅛ inch thick. Cut the rolled-out dough into sheets 7 inches wide and 14 inches long. Push the sheets through a traditional chitarra frame or a chitarraattachment. Repeat with the other portion.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

6. In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until it’s browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the kale and sauté until the greens are tender and slightly caramelized, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, red pepper flakes, clams and white wine. Cover the pan with a lid until the clams begin to open, 4 to 6 minutes.

7. Remove the lid, add the butter and let the liquid reduce until it coats the back of a spoon, 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain the pasta and toss it in the sauté pan, along with the lemon juice. Transfer the pasta and clam mixture to a large serving platter, garnish with the prepared bread crumbs and parsley, then serve.


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