Scallion-Herb-Spelt-Einkorn Linguini and the Need for Needless Complication

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Sometimes it feels like I’m all alone in thinking “complicated” is a compliment. Many a man has dumped me with the phrase “I just want someone simple,” and I’ll admit that I’m not simple or easy. But really, I don’t think most people are. Some of us are better at hiding our internal mess, but complex is pretty much synonymous with human. I think that’s okay. In fact, I think that’s great.

We used to love mysteries and puzzles, but these days, simplicity is trendy. We like minimalist décor, meals that come together in 10 minutes, books that we can read just for the story. As a friend recently pointed out to me, in online dating “no drama” has become code for “I don’t want to deal with your emotions.” I understand the appeal of clean and simple but I must confess that I’m a lover of the complicated. I live for recipes that take half a day to prepare, books that reveal something new every time I read them, and friends that surprise me.

In that spirit, I recently took on a needlessly complex cooking project which involved 4 different kinds of herbs, a mortar and pestle, and a borrowed pasta press. The result were pretty, herb-flecked noodles. They were delicious. Honestly, probably not much more delicious than if I’d put the herbs in the sauce, but I enjoyed the complexity of the noodles themselves. It gave me a layer of flavor to play on top of. I topped them with melted butter, parmesan, shrimp, and kale.

Building flavor this way, in layers, is what makes restaurant food so delicious. Professional chefs find ways to use the same ingredients in different parts of the dish, to build flavor into every piece, creating intensity. Cooking at home, it isn’t always possible to make everything from scratch. There’s no shame in store-bought noodles or pre-made stock. But that doesn’t mean that doing it all yourself is useless. Complexity is beautiful, special, to be cherished.

 

Scallion-Herb-Spelt-Einkorn Linguini
(adapted from Gather and Dine )

 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup oregano leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 cup (140 g) all-purpose einkorn flour
1 cup (140 g) whole spelt flour
1 cup (140 g) white spelt flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoon (30 ml) olive oil
1-4 (15-60ml)tablespoons cold water

Place herbs and salt in a large mortar and grind until they are broken down and softened.

Dump einkorn and spelt flours in a large bowl and make a well in the center.

Drop eggs, olive oil, and crushed herbs in the center of the well.

Slowly incorporate flour into wet ingredients until fully combined. If dough is too dry, add water, one tablespoon at a time, just until dough comes together in a ball; it should feel dry and not sticky.

Knead dough for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Wrap in plastic and rest for 1 hour.

Roll out on a pasta press, working down to thickness no more than 1/8”. Cut into ribbons and dry slightly while bringing a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Drain and serve immediately, finished with desired toppings or sauce.

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