Ricotta Pansotti with Nettle Pesto

Ricotta Pansotti with Nettle Pesto
Pair this ricotta pansotti and nettle pesto with a Friuli white. (John Kernick)
From the Jul 31, 2019, issue

(This recipe appeared in chef Michael White's menu in the July 31, 2019, issue.)

“Ortica—here they’re called stinging nettles—are very popular in Emilia Romagna. After you blanch them, they don’t sting, and we make a pesto out of that. I’m really lucky that I not only got to cook there but live there. You learn the culture.”—Michael White

INGREDIENTS

9 large eggs, plus more as needed
8 cups 00 flour
1 1/2 quart ricotta
2 egg yolks
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more
1/2 cup mascarpone
Zest of 2 lemons
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Nettle Pesto (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Grated Pecorino

RECIPE

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 8 of the eggs with the flour. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together (it will be slightly shaggy) and turn off the machine to check it. If the dough is not pulling together, add 1 more egg and mix until combined. Check the dough again and adjust as needed. Lightly knead the dough and compress it into a ball. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours at room temperature. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and brought to room temperature before use.)

2. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 egg, egg yolks, Parmigiano-Reggiano, mascarpone, lemon zest and a pinch of salt, plus black pepper to taste, if desired. Mix well, season to taste, cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill thoroughly, about 1 hour.

3. Set a pasta sheeter to the thickest setting. Cut the dough ball into 3 equal pieces and run through the machine a few times to flatten. Stack the 3 pieces one on top of the other to create one thicker piece, and run through the machine several times until smooth. Cut the dough into manageable, 2- or 3-foot pieces and roll through the sheeter on each setting, beginning with thickest and ending with thinnest. Place sheets in a single layer on a lightly floured surface and cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.

4. Place one of the dough sheets on a lightly floured work surface. Using a pastry bag or a plastic freezer bag with the corner snipped off, pipe the filling onto the dough in 1-tablespoon mounds, about 2 inches apart. Using a ring cutter (choose a size that leaves about a 1-inch border around the filling mound), punch out the pasta into discs with the filling in the middle of each. Using a spray bottle, lightly spritz each pasta disc with water and fold one side of the pasta round over the filling until it is lined up with the opposite edge; press to seal. Cupping one hand in a C-shape, run it over the surface of the pasta next to the filling to press the air out of the dough pocket and seal it all the way around. Hold the folded pasta by the “corners” (where the semicircle meets the straight edge). With the curved part facing toward you, join the two corners, overlapping one over the other (it will seem like the filling is being folded in half) and press tightly to seal.

5. Place the finished pansotti on a baking sheet dusted with flour. Repeat with the rest of the cut discs, then with each of the remaining uncut dough sheets. The pasta can be used immediately, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the pansotti in and stir gently. Bring water back up to a boil and cook the pansotti for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the filling is soft to the touch. Taste one to check for doneness. Drain, reserving the pasta water.

7. Heat a large sauté pan over medium. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water, followed by the cooked pansotti. Add the butter and a few spoonfuls of the pesto to taste. Gently swirl the pan to melt the butter and incorporate the pesto. Bring to a simmer and turn off the heat. Sprinkle the pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano and swirl to combine. Top with Pecorino. Serves 6.

Cutting pasta
John Kernick
Cut the pasta by following instructions in step 4.
Folding pasta
John Kernick
Fold the pasta by following instructions in step 4.

NETTLE PESTO
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 pound stinging nettles
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup grated Pecorino, plus more
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread the pine nuts and walnuts on a foil-lined baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Toast, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then roughly chop the walnuts and set aside.

2. Prepare an ice water bath and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Wearing gloves or handling the nettles carefully, add them and the basil to the water and cook for about 15 seconds, until the nettles and basil are just wilted but still bright green. Drain and transfer to the ice bath. Transfer the nettles and basil to a clean surface and squeeze out the moisture. Pat dry, then roughly chop the nettles.

3. Combine the nettles, basil, pine nuts, walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and process to combine. With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil to create an emulsion. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper and cheese.

WINE MATCH
VILLA RUSSIZ Ribolla Gialla Collio 2015 (88 points, $26)

“Friuli is one of the most important white wine regions in Italy. With that dish, I wanted something green, but not Sauvignon Blanc. Ribolla Gialla definitely has those green, herbaceous notes, but it’s still refreshing. You don’t want anything supercomplex when you’re outside or at the beach. On the patio at our D.C. restaurant, everyone wants simple wine.”—Hristo Zisovski

Wine Spectator Alternates: RONCO SEVERO Ribolla Gialla Delle Venezie 2014 (91, $30), TERENZUOLA Vermentino Colli di Luni-Tuscany Vigne Basse 2017 (91, $17)

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