Summer is here! We’ve had an early start here in LA. I recently went to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market looking for something summery! I made agnolotti with fava beans for Easter but they’re out of season now. Once I spotted, zucchini blossoms, I knew I hit pay-dirt!
Agnolotti is a stuffed pasta from Italy’s Piedmont region. It’s like a ravioli but it’s made with just one sheet of pasta and folded over the filling so you only need to seal it on three sides. There’s a variation called “agnolotti del plin” (or pinched) that this recipe uses. You pipe a long row of the filling down a pasta sheet, fold it over and pinch space in the pasta where you then cut it. It’s way faster than spooning out equal amounts of filling in nice little clumps.
So here’s to the beginning of the summer!!
This recipe serves about 8 people as a first course.
- 2 large bunches of zucchini blossoms (half the zucchini blossoms reserved for the topping)
- 1 ½ cups of ricotta cheese, drained of excess liquid
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- 5-10 sprigs of mint, sliced into small pieces
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
- 14 ounces (by weight) of flour (I recommend a combination of semolina and “double zero” flour)
- 4 jumbo eggs or 5 large eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 1 stick of butter
- The reserved zucchini blossoms
- Salt and pepper
- A wedge of Parmesan cheese for grating
- Sheet pans for holding assembled pasta
- Course semolina for dusting pasta
- A pasta machine or KitchenAid with pasta roller attachment
- A plastic gallon size storage bag
- A pasta cutter
- A bench scrapper
- A cheese grater
- A spider (colander on a stick)
To make the filling:
- Finely slice the zucchini flowers into ribbons from the tips down to where they begin to turn green and tough. You want just the delicate orange-yellow part. Then roughly slice the ribbons into smaller pieces.
- Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and incorporate with a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice. You want to taste the zucchini blossoms, mint and lemon but don’t add so much lemon juice that that mixture become watery.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready for use.
To make the dough:
- Pour the flours out on to a wooden board. Stir the flours together using a fork if needed.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and break the eggs into the well. Add a pinch of salt. Using a fork, gentle beat the eggs.
- Begin to fold the flour into the eggs by working around the edges of the well. Continue to fold into the flour until the dough is wet but not soupy. You don’t have to use all the flour. You want the dough wet. You can always add flour later but it’s very hard to add liquid.
- Now time to dive in with you hands. Gather the dough with your hands and begin to knead it. The dough will stick to your hands but should not stick to board. Add additional flour until the dough is still very damp but no longer sticking the board as you knead it.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Then wrap in wax paper and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and at most overnight.
- Clean the board off with a bench scrapper.
To assemble the agnolotti:
- Spoon the filling into the plastic bag and create a cheap disposable pastry bag by forcing the filling to one bottom corner of the bag. Snip the bag with scissors to create a ½-inch hole. Remember you can always make the hole bigger but you can’t make it smaller!
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut into quarters. Place one quarter of the dough on the board. Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator still wrapped in the wax paper.
- Dust both sides of the dough with a little flour and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Using the pasta maker our attachment, roll out the pasta to a rather thin size (I use the #6 on the KitchenAid).
- Cut the dough into shorter segments if needed and lay out on a work surface. Cover with a slightly damp towel.
- Addressing one segment of dough at a time and keeping the rest covered, pipe the filling down one side of the dough, leaving about ¼ inch along the long edge.
- Roll the long edge of the dough near the filling over and creating an overlapped edge, about ½ inch in width. Run your fingers down the filling to gently press out any air bubbles.
- Pinch the dough and filling about every 1 ½ inches to seal the dough and press away the filling from the seam. Be sure to seal it very well.
- Using the pasta cutter, cut down the long size that was folded and then between each filled pasta along the seam you created.
- Place on the sheet pan dusted with coarse semolina.
- Continue with remaining dough until you run out of dough or filling.
- Let the pasta dry on the sheet pans for about 30 minutes, then freeze on the sheet pans and remove to sealed plastic bags for storage in the freezer.
To complete and serve:
- Put up a large pot of salted boiling water for the pasta.
- Prepare a large saute pan to finish the pasta. Slowly melt the butter in the pan and stir the butter over low heat until it begins to brown. If using unsalted butter, add a little salt.
- Slice the remaining zucchini blossoms as before for the final garnish.
- Drop the plin pasta into the boiling water and gently stir. When they mostly rise back to the top, cook for 1 minute. Even for frozen pasta, this will happen fast.
- Remove the pasta to the pan with the butter using a spider.
- Gently cook in the butter for 1 minute and remove to warmed plates using the spider.
- Top with grated Parmesan cheese and zucchini blossoms and serve.