Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!
You can find the information and the recipes Steph provided on this page. Serendipitously, I have recently written two posts on fresh egg pasta: tagliatelle with ricotta (both homemade) and tagliatelle with tomato sauce and fava beans. The posts include my recipe for the pasta all'uovo itself and for three dishes. In them, I explained also how I always make the pasta dough by hand and sometimes use the rolling pin (matterello), sometimes the pasta machine to roll out the pasta: the ingredient in the latter case is called olio di gomito (elbow grease).
For the challenge, I decided to make stuffed pasta. First, I selected the filling ingredients: my homemade ricotta and baby rainbow chard (bietola novella) from my little vegetable garden. Then, I decided that I would cut the pasta dough with my 3-inch fluted round biscuit cutter and then fold each round into a mezzaluna (half moon).
If you have never made stuffed pasta before, my recommendation is to start small. Make one egg of pasta all'uovo and prepare the filling below. You will have some leftover filling. When I was a kid, my task was to fill and shape cappelletti. My mother prepared the filling and the pasta and cut the pasta for me and I took it from there. Sometimes I felt like the pasta and the filling would never end, no matter how many cappelletti I shaped. So now I am careful about making the task small so it looks manageable. Anyway, enough with advice.
The recipe I use to make pasta all'uovo is here. I have recently run out of the type of flour mentioned in the post, so I am now using a blend of all-purpose flour and durum flour that I brought from Italy.
Ingredients for the filling:
- 50 g cooked baby chard (I weighed it after I cooked it) [you can use tender chard leaves instead]
- 150 g [homemade] ricotta
- a pinch of nutmeg (noce moscata)
- a pinch of dried lemon zest
- a bit of salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated homemade Montasio or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Additional ingredients to finish the dish:
- salted butter
- freshly grated homemade Montasio or Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
Wash the baby chard and put it in a pan with some water still clinging to the leaves. Cover and cook until tender, checking often to make sure the pan is not dry. If you do this carefully, there is no need to squeeze the leaves dry (something I can't bring myself to do in any circumstance).
Chop chard finely. With a fork, mash the ricotta into a cream. Add the chard and mix well. Add the seasoning and incorporate. The filling is now ready to be used.
Cut the pasta, place a small amount of filling on each round, fold it in half, and carefully seal the edge. I am afraid I must renege on my recent "enough with advice" statement. Start with using less filling than you think is needed: it is easy to put too much filling on a round and then get into trouble when you try to seal the mezzaluna. On the other hand, you want to end up with a nice, soft pillow.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add some coarse salt and stir. Drop the mezzelune into the water, making sure they don't crowd, and bring back to boiling. Cook the mezzelune several minutes, until done. The amount of time needed depends on a few factors, so the best way to handle this is to watch attentively and taste a corner.
While the pasta is cooking, in a ramekin, melt a tablespoon of salted butter for each 10-11 mezzelune. This quantity is my idea of a portion and you should get two portions from one egg of pasta all'uovo. Add a few leaves of fresh basil finely chopped (or chiffonade) and stir. Grate the cheese of choice. Drain the mezzelune and place them on plates. Pour some of the butter & basil, sprinkle cheese on top and serve immediately.
You can see many variations of the theme of handmade pasta, when you browse the creations of my fellow Daring Cooks. A special thank to Steph for an interesting and fun challenge.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the mezzelune con ricotta e bietola audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]