Warning: this is going to be a photo-heavy post.
But hear me out – this is one of the most fun recipes I’ve ever made. Don’t get me wrong, making agnolotti from scratch is a tad bit time consuming. But I consider food to be a labor of love. Being a quarter Italian myself, how could it not be? This identity originates with my grandfather, whose family emigrated to America from Faeto, a village in Italy not too far from Naples. My grandfather was immensely proud of his Italian heritage, and it is something that I feel pride in carrying on through my culinary endeavors.
So – agnolotti. Some of you may be thinking, “Wait, isn’t this ravioli?” Technically, no. Ravioli is also a stuffed pasta, but is made by putting your filling on top of a sheet of pasta, placing another sheet of pasta on top of that, then cutting the ravioli from there (Ashlae from Oh Ladycakes has a great example). Agnolotti is made by cutting the pasta sheets first, then folding it over the filling. Which works out best if you, like me, don’t have a ravioli cutter or stamp.
Then comes the filling. I knew I wanted something really flavorful, so I made a white cannellini bean filling mixed with lots of garlic and rosemary. It’s creamy and luscious and absolutely packed with flavor. In fact, I’d confidently say these little agnolotti could stand on their own without any pesto, that’s how good they are.
When I was making / rolling / shaping the pasta dough, I put Iron Chef America (my favorite show) up on Netflix in the background, and set about making the agnolotti. It was one of the most quiet and peaceful – yet joyous – Saturday mornings I’ve had in a while. Cooking is something that’s absolutely calming to me. When I’m standing there in the kitchen, hands sticky and doughy and every surface covered in flour, I feel at peace. I’m not thinking about all the sh!t I have coming up at work, or what my plans are for later in the day, or all of the chores I have to do around the apartment. It’s just me and the dough.
And I should probably mention that today I turn 23. I certainly don’t feel it – I still see myself as the 18 year old college freshman ready to discover the world. But no – I am almost two years out of college now, living on my own, working full time. I suppose making these agnolotti was rather wistful for me. I’ve come to realize that my true passion is in food and cooking, and I so desperately wish I could create recipes and cook delicious foods for the people I care about all the time. You know, as a full-time job! And I guess there’s something about birthdays that really makes you consider the passage of time. In ten years, will I be happy with the path I chose? Will I wish I had made a career change sooner, or applaud myself for sticking with a less-than-fun job in finance? I don’t want to be a quitter. But at what point do you cut your losses, throw in the towel, and move on? (If any of you have any advice or similar life experiences, please let me know! I feel so lost.)
So I guess this is a bit of a pensive birthday for me. I’m sorry you all have to listen to my melancholy ramblings. But having readers at all, really, is such a great gift, one that I am so grateful for.
- 2 Tbs ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp warm water
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Spelt Flour
- ½ Cup Water
- ½ Tsp Sea Salt
- ½ Tsp Black Pepper
- A bit more flour for rolling
- A bit of olive oil for assembly
- 2 Cups Cannellini Beans, cooked
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- ½ Tbs Fresh Rosemary, minced
- ½ Tbs Dried Chives
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pinch of Sea Salt + Pepper
- 1 Cup Arugula
- 1½ Cups Mesclun Greens
- ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbs White Wine Vinegar
- Pinch of Sea Salt + Pepper
- In a small bowl, combine ground flaxseed and warm water. Mix completely and let sit while you prepare the rest of the dough ingredients. (By the time you add the flax mixture to the dough, the texture should be sticky and gelatinous. If it's not, let it rest for a few more minutes.)
- In a larger bowl, combine flour, sea salt, and pepper. Whisk together.
- Then, add olive oil, giving flour another whisk to mix completely.
- After the olive oil has been mixed, add in flaxseed mixture and combine.
- Finally, add in the water and mix.
- Note - If the dough is too dry, add water in small increments until it is workable but still firm.
- Now comes the fun part - kneading the dough. If you have a stand mixer with a kneading attachment, by all means use it. Personally I like to go the old-fashioned route and knead by hand. Knead the dough for a good 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, let the dough rest while you prepare the filling.
- In a food processor, combine beans, minced garlic, minced rosemary, dried chives, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Process until beans are a smooth, creamy texture. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- When you're ready to make your agnolotti, take the dough and separate it into about four parts (this number doesn't really matter - you're just using smaller amounts to help you roll the pasta).
- Again, if you have a pasta-rolling extension on your stand mixer, go ahead and use it. If you're low tech like me, get out your rolling pin and get to business.
- On a clean, well-floured surface, roll your dough out until it is fairly thin. For a reference point, please refer to the photos!
- To get the round agnolotti shape, take a standard size mason jar lid (which is what I used) or a similarly-sized glass and cut out your shapes. A cookie cutter would probably work too.
- When you've cut as many circles as you can out of the dough you've rolled, repeat the process with the remaining dough. Save the dough you have leftover from each repetition, and at the end, add a little water to reconstitute the dough, and roll it out again so nothing is wasted!
- To make your agnolotti, scoop about a scant ½ tbs of the filling in the middle of your little pasta circle. Using a clean paintbrush or your finger, dab a little olive oil around the circumference of the circle.
- Fold circle in half over the filling. Using a fork, press the tips of the fork down on the edges of the half-circle, to "seal" the agnolotti. For reference, please see photos!
- Repeat until out of pasta dough or filling.
- To cook the agnolotti, bring a pot of well-salted water to boil.
- Taking about 8-10 agnolotti at a time, place in boiling water. They are done cooking when they float to the surface.
- Repeat for as many agnolotti as you'd like to serve - I cooked half of mine, and stuck the other half in the freezer!
- This step is optional but recommended - Bring a pan and a little olive oil to medium heat. When pan is hot, add a few agnolotti and cook until browned on each side, about 2-3 minutes. This really adds a lot to the texture!
- In a food processor, combine all pesto ingredients and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Adjust seasonings if needed.
- To serve, take agnolotti hot from the pan and drizzle with pesto. Serve with chopped herbs or extra chopped mesclun greens, if desired. These would also taste bangin' with any sort of red tomato sauce too!
Song of the Day:
Birthday – The Beatles