Friday, 8 July 2011

You Can Keep Your Hat On

Cappelletti ai Spinaci con Finocchio, Fichi e Gorgonzola
Spinach Cappelletti with Fennel, Fig and Gorgonzola

I know it gets confusing with all the different names of all the numerous kinds of pasta out there... trust me, even we Italians can't keep track of them all! Cappelletti, or "little hats", are round ravioli-typed noodles with a filling. I remembered today that I had bought a couple of neat little pasta cutting and sealing tools on my last trip to Sicily... and decided to knead together a little dough today and to finally try them out!

I don't need to tell you how to make capelletti or ravioli I hope- you have all seen it a thousand times before and there are a gazillion recipes out there in case you haven't... but what I DO need to tell you is what I did to these to make them a different and delicious!

The filling was spinach which I sauteed for 2 or 3 minutes with finely chopped onion and a little garlic. As soon as it is cool enough, wring out any excess juices and chop finely. Add a little ricotta cheese, grate with nutmeg and season with grated parmesan, pepper and honey. You will need these little pasta cutter/tools (see image), in 2 sizes. Roll out the dough, cut out circles with a larger cutter, add about a half teaspoon of the spinach mix, fold the circle over in half and press shut with the smaller tool.

Now to the fun part! Lets get creative with our ingredients!

This is maybe a strange method of mine for cooking fennel- but who's the boss here? That's right- you are going to do it MY way. First, peel off any of the tough sinews and cut your fennel into thin slices. Pop some finely diced bacon into a Teflon pan and as soon as it starts sizzling, add the fennel. Fry for 2-3 minutes and then add a splash of water and continue to cook until it has evaporated away. Now add a little finely sliced garlic and a pinch of sugar and repeat the procedure with the water. Once it has evaporated for the second time, sprinkle with a little cumin, season with a little pepper, dress with a hint of olive oil and set to one side. 

The little traces of oil left in your pan should be enough for you to be able to prepare the red onion slices next. Fry in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes, add a sprinkle of sugar and a dash of water and continue to cook until the water is completely evaporated. Again- remove and set to one side.

Next comes the fig, which I sliced and fried in a tiny amount of butter at a medium heat. Season with pepper and set to one side, ready to put your dish together...

The final ingredient is mild and creamy gorgonzola cheese- don't get the kind that is "piccante" or too strong in flavor. Arrange the cappeletti with an even mix of tangy onion, sweet, mild fig and savory cheese. Add a sprinkle of cumin seed and finely chopped rosemary, grate with a light dusting of nutmeg and call your guests to the table! Oh- and grab yourself a nice glass of red to go with it... mmm!


  1. Hi Francesco, the dish looks beautiful! One question though- is the cumin raw? If so, how good does it taste? The reason I ask is because I always temper my cumin before adding it, but that will destroy this dish methinks !

  2. Hi Jyoti! Thanks for writing- and good question! I also dry-roast my cumin if I am making an Indian, or other more exotic dish, but not for the more European flavors where I don't want it to have such an extreme aroma...
    I love raw cumin with fennel and cheese, or on potatoes, whereas roasted it is wonderful as a part of a curry...
    Hope that answers your question!
    And hope you enjoy trying this out!
    Best regards, Francesco

  3. Hi Designer FFM – Thanks for recommending using a Teflon® non-stick pan while making your Cappelletti ai Spinaci con Finocchio, Fichi e Gorgonzola. I represent DuPont and it’s always a pleasure to see people recommending our products in their recipes.

    If you are interested in some other recipes or great cookbooks to look at for your blog, drop me an email and I would be glad to help you out! Thanks. Cheers, Sara

  4. Thanks for writing Sara and always happy to mention a good product! These are all my own recipes and that is the whole point of this blog... but thanks all the same! Best regards, Francesco