Monday, 10 October 2011

Vegetarian Hat Trick

Cappelletti Ripieni di Spinaci e Ricotta con Lenticchie Rossi e Salvia
Spinach and Ricotta Cappelletti with Red Lentils & Sage 

Sometimes you can make a little go a long way- you all know that by now from reading my blog- and this is another example of making something, seemingly from nothing. Imagine feeding 2 people with 1 egg, a cupful of flour, a handful of lentils, a 3" chunk of leek, a handful of spinach, my last scoop of ricotta cheese and a few sage leaves- and of course some basics like garlic, oil, spices and cheese. The result doesn't look too bad though, does it? And strangely enough, it wasn't...

I started out by making a simple pasta dough... egg, flour, some warm water and a little muscle power. I hope I don't have to tell you how to make a pasta dough... just use whichever recipe you feel comfortable with... it is what we are going to do with the pasta that is important.

Once the dough was made, I put it in the fridge to rest and got ready with the filling. I chopped the spinach finely and sauteed it briefly with some chopped garlic and nutmeg and a little water in a frying pan, until the spinach was soft and the water evaporated. I removed it from the heat and salted and peppered it and allowed it to cool for a few minutes.

Whilst that was happening, I rolled out the pasta dough and then cut it into strips of a the
same width of my little pasta cutter. As soon as the spinach was cool, I mixed in the ricotta and a little milk and mashed it all into a paste. I then pot little half-teaspoon-sized dabs of filling at regular distances down the edge of the rolled out dough. I then folded the dough over along the length of the spots of filling and pressed it down. Making the "Cappelletti", or "Little Hats" was easy. Using the pasta-cutting ring, I cut away half-circles from the folded-over dough and made sure the edges were sealed well. I dusted the little pasta parcels, or "hats", with flour so that they would not stick together and set them to one side- and it was all very much plain sailing from that point on!

I cut the leek into fine slices and sauteéd it in a little clarified butter, adding some finely shredded sage and a handful of red lentils per person. After 2-3 minutes, I added the pasta to the lentils, some finely chopped garlic and a little more butter. I grated it with nutmeg and added a cupful and a half of milk and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 2-3 minutes, add some grated Parmesan and stir gently. By now the pasta should be coated in a gentle sauce of leek, sage, garlic and parmesan and simply delicious.

Serve with a light drizzle of olive oil, some coarsely grated Grana cheese and some freshly ground pepper- or a pepper/chili mix like I have... so simple but such a delicious combination- and what a cool supper for another dark, brisk, Autumn evening!


  1. Making something out of nothing, so to speak, is the essence of the cucina povera, isn't it? And yet this dish looks absolutely chic… Buon appetito!

  2. Well Frank- you are of course completely right- that's just the way we do it back in the old country! Sadly, people used to be more creative when they had less of course, and nowerdays people tend to be lazier and stick to what they know rather be inventive... except for me! I actually find it FUN to make something from nothing, even when I could afford to buy probably anything that I want. Only where is the fun and the challenge in that? In any case- glad you appreciate my efforts! Best Regards- Francesco