Agnolotti with Pumpkin, Ginger & Ricotta Filling and Sage Butter
It's getting to be that time of year again- even though it started out friendly enough, the weather soon became cool and dark- sigh! And although we have great weather forecast for next week... today was definitely a Fall day! Brrr!
So when I got to the market hall today, I picked up a few ingredients that were a little more Autumnal as well as some great Summer produce. Ingredients like this yummy Hokkaido pumpkin, the sage and ginger, which I later transformed into yummy home-made pasta... perfect for a chilly evening like this!
What made these particularly speedy to make this evening, was the fact that I already had some pasta dough left over from the last time I made some- do you remember the Garganelli I made last month? At the time, I had put the pasta through the machine and had lovely, flat and smooth pasta, ready to be cut... but too much! So I rolled up the remaining pasta on a sheet of parchment paper (to keep it from sticking together of course) and popped it into the freezer:-) It works wonderfully... as I proved this evening!
So- where to begin? Of course there are many recipes out there for pumpkin-filled pasta and they usually have the same method- bake the pumpkin, scoop it out when soft, mix in food processor... etc. And that's fine. Really. Even if they do often taste like baby-food, lol! No, seriously... my point is- if I had prepared mine in the same way, what would be the point of me blogging it? For me, the fun is always in doing something a little differently, thinking outside the box, or getting a different result. Or, as in this case... all of those things and more :-)
I made enough filling for 2 GOOD portions of pasta (or 4 restaurant servings), from just one quarter of a hokkaido pumpkin, a 1" slice of ginger and a good tablespoon of fresh ricotta... pretty good, eh? And this was my main motivation to try a new method- as a single guy, it really does not make sense to turn on the oven for 45 minutes for such a small amount of pumpkin. Also, as I mentioned, I am not particularly keen on the consistency of those dense, smooth pasta fillings- I wanted something a little more fluffy and with more texture to bite on.
To make it, I grated the pumpkin, skin and-all, as well as the ginger, on a fine grater. I love the fact that the skin of the hokkaido is edible... how much more convenient is that when it come to cooking? I added the green, end part of a spring onion, finely chopped, and popped the lot into a dry, non-stick pan on a high heat and stirred, stirred, stirred!
I seasoned the grated pumpkin with salt, pepper, nutmeg, a pinch of cayenne and kept on stirring until it changed color and began to stick to the pan a little. I then turned off the heat and let it sit for a while- it was still giving off steam and that was what made it soften up. After 2-3 minutes, I added the ricotta and stirred that in too, until the filling became smoother and fluffier. All it needed now was to cool off for a few minutes and then I got busy making my little pasta parcels!
There are also many methods to make filled pasta- there are trays with prepared sections for the fillings to be set into, those plastic pastry-folder gadgets that make half-moon shaped pasta shells- or cookie cutters even. Or... these great little stamps that I brought back from Sicily last Christmas :-)
I set-out the filling, 1 half-teaspoonful at a time, in regular spaces, on one side of the dough, added a little beaten egg-yolk around the edge of each filling and then folded the other half of the dough over the top. I pressed the air out as best I could from the pasta and then used the cutter to stamp out those pretty circles. Time to get boiling!
I brought the water to a rolling simmer in a large-ish pot, seasoned the water well with salt and then added the agnolotti and let them cook for 3-4 minutes until they began to float to the surface. At that point I put the frying pan back onto the stove and melted a good pat of butter, with a clove of garlic in it to give it a gentle aroma, and a handful of small thyme leaves to knock that aroma out of the ball park!
Once the pasta was done, I poured off MOST of the water, then transferred it to the frying pan. I added a little nutmeg, salt and pepper as required and a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan. Yummy! I let the pasta simmer gently and infuse in the flavors of the wine, butter and garlic and just 1-2 minutes later I was ready and preparing to serve!
A final sprinkle of pepper, along with the remaining butter and the sage leaves from the pan- and of course the obligatory sprinkle of cheese and my little pasta dish was ready to go! And does that look like a yummy plate of pasta- or does that look like a yummy plate of pasta?!?!
So there you have it- a really easy method of making a yummy pasta filling and great flavors for this time of year- with butter, sage and ginger... how can you go wrong!?!
Have fun trying out your own fillings- but whatever you do, go crazy, have fun, and enjoy your food! It can be so easy to make something so good!