Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Agnolotti with Butternut Squash and Parmagiano Reggiano

What you see here is my first attempt to make a stuffed pasta. I decided to try my hand at agnolotti, which seemed the most free form and more importantly, the most forgiving. While it was not a total success, I was extremely pleased with it, and there was the added bonus that I learned some things while making it.

The first thing I learned is that I need to roll out the dough a little bit more. It was good, but the pasta was on the thick side.

Which didn't help with this first batch I cooked. I boiled them for about three minutes even, and that was not enough. Not only were they a little thick, they were more than a little al dente.

But the butternut squash and parmagiano reggiano filling was sensational from the first bite. For this first batch, I cooked up a little butter and fried sage in it. It was tasty, but I wanted to find something a little healthier.

The next time I made butternut squash soup, I thought that might make a nice sauce for the agnolotti. It was rich and smooth, and it did go well. I over-sauced it, though, which overpowered the more delicate interior filling.

For the final version pictured at the top, I sauted onion and garlic in olive oil and butter, added a small amount of chicken broth and cooked it down, and then spooned that over the pasta. I finished it off with some grated parmagiano reggiano and chopped parsley. By then I had calculated the cooking time better, so except for being on the thick side, it was pretty near perfection.

The biggest thing I learned is that you can freeze homemade pasta. I had already test-frozen some noodles, which I let thaw and cooked normally and they were just as tasty as their fresh counterpart. For these stuffed pastas, I learned that you can just throw them in the boiling salted water frozen and add ten minutes to the cooking time.

One full batch of pasta made 36 agnolotti. I used my faithful empty 14.5-oz. coconut milk can with both ends opened as a pasta cutter, so they were about two-and-a-half inches in diameter. I cooked seven the first night and then froze the rest. Lay them out flat on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. After they are frozen, you can just throw them into a freezer bag. They will keep indefinitely, but you should use them within a few months or the pasta can break on you. I don't know if you can see it, but the one in the center up at the top did break apart while it was cooking. I was able to treat it carefully so it did not fall completely apart, but the water did dilute the filling, so it was not ideal.

I am still playing with sauces for this pasta. I liked the butter sauces the best (who wouldn't?), but I still want to find something healthier, and I want to lighten my hand with the amount of sauce I am using.

But this was definitely not bad for a first attempt. I will post the recipe when I have it down.

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