Homemade pasta can certainly sound intimidating, let alone a homemade filled pasta. I'm here to tell you though that when you try your first homemade filled pasta, you might not ever be able to go back to the usual frozen or store-bought variety. They're not only much easier than they look, but also quicker than you'd suspect as well! Not to mention, the pasta dough couldn't be simpler and the filling is fresh, healthy and 5 ingredients (including salt and pepper!). Grab lots of flour and let's get going.
Which is truly just flour and egg! I find it easiest to add the flour to a large bowl, make a small well in the center, and crack the eggs in the well. Using a fork, you'll want to gently combine the eggs into the flour. Then it's as easy as using the dough hook of a stand mixer to knead the dough for a few minutes. If it's too dry you can always sprinkle in a little water until everything comes together. I also find it helpful to remove it from the bowl and knead by hand for a few minutes to ensure it's as smooth as possible. We'll let the dough rest for half an hour while we get the filling going.
The best thing about homemade filled pasta is that the filling couldn't be fresher. No extra ingredients, just the simplest ones that you want in your pasta! Now if you're one of those people that doesn't love ricotta, I'm right there with you! I used to have a strong aversion to it until our mom recommended mixing it with an egg to lighten it up. I was wary at first, but once I tried it I realized how much lighter it made the texture. Also, we'll naturally mix in some grated parmesan because why wouldn't we.
Pop that filling in the fridge and it's time to roll out the dough. I find it easiest to cut the dough into 4 pieces, flatten it with my hand into a small rectangular shape, and thin it out using the pasta maker attachment for a stand mixer. My biggest tip would be to make sure the dough isn't too thin. We're going to be shaping it with our hands, so it needs to be thick enough where it won't tear. Starting on the thickest setting, lightly flour the piece of dough and run it through the pasta maker. Turn it to one setting higher, and proceed twice, until you're on the 4th setting. I've found this is a sure-fire way to get that just thick enough dough!
These take on cappelletti are made using a round shape which I always find is easier to work with than a square shape. If you have a round shaped cutter of any kind (preferably around 3 inches), I find that's easiest to cut uniform circles. Once you have your circles and your filling handy, you'll brush a little egg wash around the edges and spoon a half to one teaspoon-sized amount of filling into the center of the circle. If this is your first time making filled pasta I would start with a smaller amount of filling.
Shaping them is as easy as folding them in half so you have a half-moon shape. Next, stand the half-moon shape up and fold the ends in towards each other, using the index finger of one of your hands to lightly crease the inside. Overlap the ends slightly and gently squeeze to seal the pasta. Set aside on a parchment-lined baking sheet and get going with filling the rest of these little guys! P.S. the very nice thing about a larger pasta shape (cough not tiny tortellini) is that this will take you much less time!
Once all of the pasta has been filled, I recommend popping the baking sheet into the freezer while you make the sauce. It helps them to pop right off the tray, and if you're not planning to cook all of them you can put the extra in a bag once they're frozen.
The sauce we'll be making for these is so simple and really let's the flavor of the cappelletti shine. I used to shy away from alfredo sauces of any kind because I always used to associate them with heavy cream, which was never my favorite. It recently came to my attention that using milk and enough parm (duh) can actually get you an equally delicious but lighter sauce!
We'll get going on the usual sauce ingredients of butter, garlic, and flour, then whisk in the milk. Once the parmesan and salt and pepper are stirred in, we'll add some fresh lemon juice. It brightens this sauce up so much and provides the little acidic flavor to make each bite pop. While that thickens it's as easy as quickly cooking the cappelletti until they float. Drain those little guys and toss them right into the lemony alfredo sauce, trying not to stick your hand into the pan to grab one.
Next time you have an afternoon to yourself grab these simple ingredients and enjoy making these delicious filled pasta. Sprinkle them with freshly grated parmesan and lemon zest, kick your feet up, and enjoy this summer homemade dish.
A simple ricotta cappelletti filled homemade pasta tossed in a lightened up lemon alfredo sauce and topped with freshly grated parmesan and lemon zest.
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