I have promised my fiancee Viviane that I will not use my new pasta maker until she arrives to the US. Friday was one of those days where I had a mean craving for some pasta, and that machine was sitting there on my counter all silvery, shining like a new trophy, and just begging for me to break it in. Well, as I am definitely a believer in waiting for a good thing, I resisted using it and took out the rolling pin instead. Viviane had shown me some pictures of pumpkin tortelli recently that looked delicious and since I had just bought a nice butternut squash from the local produce stand, the idea to make something similar to that tortelli came upon me and hence the Butternut Squash Cappelletti idea was born. This is what I did:
Clint’s Butternut Squash Cappelletti
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups semolina flour
1/2 of a small butternut squash (peeled and seeded)
1/3 cup of dried parmesan cheese
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1) Put the butternut squash pieces in a baking dish, cover with foil, and place in the oven at 350 Degrees F for about 40 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, mix both flours and 1 tsp salt and pile it on a flat, clean surface. Make a well in the center of the pile. Crack 4 eggs and place them into the flour well. Mix the eggs with a fork while slowly incorporating the flour into the mixture until it is a ball of dough.
3) Mix the dough in a mixer with a dough hook or knead it by hand for about 8 minutes. Cover dough in plastic wrap and allow dough to sit for about 1/2 an hour. If using a pasta roller, roll dough out into flat sheets. Otherwise, lightly flour a large, flat surface and flatten the dough with a rolling pin until very thin.
4) Prepare the filling by blending up the squash pieces in a food processor or manually mashing. Add 1 egg, 1/4 tsp salt, the parmesan cheese, the nutmeg, and the bread crumbs to the squash and mix.
5) Cut the dough into the desired shapes, 2-inch x 2-inch squares or 2-inch diameter circles (a champagne flute works well for this). Place a small amount of the prepared filling into the center of the dough cut-outs.
6) Dip your finger in some water and wet 1/2 of the perimeter of the dough cut-out. Fold it in half and press shut around the filling (make a half-moon if you made circles, make a triangle if you made squares). Now push the corner opposite the fold upward while pressing the filling pouch toward that corner. Wrap the remaining two corners around the back of the original fold in the cappelletti shape.
7) When all are finished, lightly boil in broth or salted water for about 5 minutes. Strain and serve with broth, melted butter, or pasta sauce. Top with basil and parmesan or pecorino cheese as desired.
These are a wonderfully aromatic and nutty version of cappelletti and the family enjoyed them very much. The centers have a slightly sweet taste and with the hint of nutmeg it has some character of a milder pumpkin pie filling. The pasta itself is delicious with the added nuttiness of the semolina flour. These are a lot of work to make and is easiest with a partner to help with filling and folding. However, they are certainly worth the effort in flavor. Have fun with it!