Pasta parcels with pumpkin and amaretti

Made In Italy was also the source for the main course of pasta parcels filled with pumpkin and amaretti. I’ve only made pasta once and that was at Ashburton so before I even thought about the ingredients, I had to get me a pasta machine! Had I thought about this even a day in advance I would have saved myself some money and bought one online at much less that my local cookshop charges, but I wasn’t organised enough, and I like having local shops, so I don’t mind paying a little more to shop in them. This turned out to be a bit more than a little more, but let’s move on….

So with a solid and shiny Imperia pasta machine from Gill Wing Cookshop on Upper Street weighing down my pannier bag, I shopped for the rest of my ingredients, revelling in there being no queue in Steve Hatt’s (the most excellent fishmonger on Essex Road), looking like an alcoholic buying a bottle of Amaretto at 11am, and just a bit weird scrutinising packets of amaretti biscuits in Da Mario. Ended up buying the wrong kind despite the scrutiny. Ah well.

With all my bounty purchased and biked home, it was on with the pasta. I’m going to miss the stainless steel worktop when I eventually get my new kitchen – it’s perfect for bread and pasta making. I can only hope composite is almost as good.

3 eggs and 2 yolks were mixed in to 500g of “00” flour.

I kneaded and kneaded….500g of flour is hard to work….and I added a bit too much extra flour when I panicked that it was too sticky. Lesson learned – it gives a horrible mottled crust on the outside of the ball that has to be trimmed off once it’s rolled. Will resist the temptation next time.

Next, a butternut squash was covered in foil, a slosh of water added to the tray and baked for about an hour, until very soft.

Parmesan, crushed amaretti biscuits and some breadcrumbs were added to the de-skinned pumpkin and softened onions which had been cooked over a low heat for about 20 mins to drive off the last of the moisture from the pumpkin. The book suggests hanging the mixture in cheesecloth to allow the excess liquid to drain if you have time.

Then it was onto the rolling and parcel making! This was fun, and I’ll be doing it again and again…

The pasta was rolled out to the thinnest setting, and laid along the counter. It was brushed with beaten egg, and walnut-sized blobs of filling were placed in pairs along half its length.

The other half of the long strip of pasta was then folded back over and each parcel gently sealed.

Then the mistake.

I placed the parcels on a plate, delicately overlaying them so they all fitted (uh-oh….) and then put the damp tea towel over the top to stop them drying out (big uh-oh). The pasta-makers among you know already that this was a schoolgirl error, and had I thought about it for a nano-second, I’d have realised the mistake I’d just made.

I was too annoyed with myself to photograph the clump of pasta mush that I was left with after gingerly picking off those less-stuck parcels, so you will have to imagine a) the mess and b) my fury. I hate wasting food. Hate messing up recipes almost as much. Luckily the recipe yields around a million parcels, so there were still enough to go around.

The survivors were briefly cooked in salted boiling water and then held in a saute pan of butter, sage leaves, and plated. The sauce was finished with a slosh of Amaretto, and dribbled over the pasta parcels, which were sitting on top of a sprinkling of Parmesan and crushed amaretti biscuits.

Everyone loved the dish, but Matt, Greg and I agreed that it was a touch too sweet and we pondered whether finishing the sauce with Amaretto was a sweet step too far. Next time I’ll try a dry white wine or sherry to try and offset the sweetness of the filling, and skip the biscuits form the final plating. Anna thought they were perfect as they were 🙂

It did also send us off onto a culinary riff on sweet pasta; we wondered if anyone made such a thing? We though a tart filling like rhubarb would be great, perhaps with a think creme anglaise, and adding something like cardamom to lightly flavour the pasta dough. I might play around with that the next time I make pasta and I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.

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