Friday, November 2, 2007

Mezzelune di cipolla

This recipe brings back fine memories. There's something about making pasta by hand that gives me a sense of serenity and tranquillity.

The first time I prepared this recipe, it was out of respect and trust for the chef that taught it to me, but I didn't expect anything from it - just read the ingredients for the filling and you'll see what I mean. Unexpectedly, however, these "mezzelune" - a nice word which means "half moons" - have a rather delicate and balanced flavor.

Mezzelune di cipolla e ricotta

For the pasta dough:
500 g all-purpose flour
5 medium eggs

For the filling:
600 g onions
2 tablespoons butter
40 g cooked beetroot
80 g ricotta
30 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 egg yolk
30 g breadcrumbs
chives, salt, pepper to taste

Prepare the pasta dough as usual and let it rest for at least half an hour – I usually make mine a few hours in advance and leave it in the fridge well wrapped in cling film.

In the mean time, prepare the filling – it’s best if you make it one day in advance, so that all the flavors blend together.
Slice the onions – sweet ones work better – and put them in a pan with the butter on a very low heat until they become transparent. This may take a while, but it’s important that the onions don’t burn or you’ll end up with a bitter taste. Let cool.
In the bowl of your mixer, work together the beetroot, the breadcrumbs and the Parmigiano Reggiano. When you get a well-blended mixture, add the ricotta, the yolk and some finely cut chives and mix with a fork.
Mix together the onions and the beetroot and ricotta mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.
Roll out the dough, either with a rolling pin or with a pasta roller until the desired thickness. I like it rather thin, so that the pasta doesn’t overpower the filling. Cut out 10 cm/4 in circles and put some filling on top of each one – a disposable pastry bag with no tip comes in very handy in these cases. Fold the circles to get the half moon shape making sure that you press the edges well or the filling will come out when you cook them – you might also wet the edges a little to help you seal the pasta.

Fill a large pan with water and bring it to the boil. Add salt. Drop in the mezzelune and cook them for a couple minutes max after they’ve resurfaced – use a skimmer to take them out of the boiling water and put them straight in a pan with some butter and some sage leaves. Sauté them and serve immediately.


Michael said...

I think those sounds freaking awesome, but then anything with lots of onions works for me. One of the best pastas I've had in years was filled with turnip puree, so you never know. (That was at Veil in Seattle).

Michael Natkin
The Herbivoracious Blog

BetsyDrake said...

Thank you, Michael. The flavor is actually quite delicate, try it and let me know :-)

chemcookit said...

That's really marvelous! Where in Italy are your from? I did make some sort of tortelli, agnolotti and such from time to time, but never thought of this filling. Is it typical of some region in Italy or just the invention of the chef who taught you?
Moreover: how long it takes you to make something like this? I'm really slow at making pasta.

BetsyDrake said...

@chemcookit: no, it's not a typical recipe, however you'll find pasta filled with just about anything...
I really can't say how long it takes. I never timed myself. However, you could prepare the filling one day ahead (in fact I recommend it) and make the pasta on the next day, with a pasta-roller machine it shouldn't take too long