I learned all about pasta making this summer at my job as a fresh pasta maker at Eataly NYC.
Most days started with me rolling out the ricotta gnocchi dough that had been prepared the day before and allowed to chill overnight to firm up. After all of that dough was used up, I would move on to handmade honey ricotta mezzelune, which were more fun to make. I was not able to resist “taste testing” the sweet, creamy filling a few more times than necessary, and definitely snuck a few failed mezzelune into my mouth, raw (washing my hands each time of course). Once I had made enough of those, I would move on to the agnolotti machine, which was pretty stressful at first because it had a lot of dangerous moving parts and required constant attention to make sure the tiny filled pastas that spewed out of the machine were perfectly plump and completely sealed.
Some days, we would send some raw pasta to the kitchen for them to prepare for us, and then we would steal away from our stations to enjoy a little bit of our handiwork, quickly forking savory morsels into our mouths while standing over the steaming communal dish.
Though I only worked there for a short few months, I learned a lot about how to make different pastas. Here I am sharing a new shape I learned, a filled pasta that looks like fat little bonnets, hence the name “cappelletti” or little hats.
You could come up with all sorts of fillings, but I had a kabocha squash, which tastes like an extra sweet pumpkin, so I used that.
Kabocha Squash Cappelletti
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 small kabocha squash
grated parmiggiano reggiano to taste
cinnamon to taste
Make the pasta dough: Put the flour and salt in a bowl and mix it together, then make a crater in the center of the flour and crack in the two eggs. Whisk the eggs together with a fork and slowly begin incorporating the surrounding flour until you get a flaky dough. Don’t worry if it looks like it won’t come together, it will! Turn out the dough onto a counter and knead it until it forms a smooth ball (it will be stiffer than bread dough). Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and let it rest at least half an hour before rolling it out so that the flour has time to hydrate. In the meantime make the filling.
Make the filling: Cut the squash in half and roast it at 450 degrees F for 40 minutes, until soft. Puree the squash in a food processor, then mix it with grated parmiggiano, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste. You want it to taste pretty flavorful because you want it to pop through the pasta.
Put the filling in a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with a corner cut off for easy dispensing on the dough. Using a pasta machine, roll a piece of the dough out to a thin setting (for me it was the last setting).
Deposit small mounds of filling about 2 inches apart down the center of the rolled dough and fold the dough in half. Crease the dough all around the filling to seal out any air.
Using a round cookie cutter or a small cup, cut out semicircles around the filling. To make the cappelletti shape, point the flat end of the semicircle towards yourself, fold the corners towards each other and pinch them together.
As you make the cappelletti, put them on a floured cookie sheet and coat them in flour so they don’t stick together. When you’re ready to cook them, boil them for about 3 minutes, then coat them with whatever sauce you want. Brown butter and sage would be great, or just olive oil with a dusting of parmiggiano, like I did here.