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!