SQUID INK AGNOLOTTI with BROWN BUTTER, RICOTTA MOUSSE + PARMESAN
120 g AP (or 00) flour
35 g spinach puree
1 whole egg
1 g cuttlefish ink
120 g AP (or 00) flour
85 g egg white
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup ricotta
2 eggs separated
1/3 cup parmesan
pinch of salt
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter
parmesan + salt to garnish
Juice from one lemon cheek
The baptistery of St. John is one of my favorite buildings in Florence. It's also one of the oldest, and sits in the Piazza del Duomo. It's easy to overlook during the day with mobs of tourists focused on the duomo. But at night, the white and green stripes remind me of a nice Italian shirt, or an abstract geometric painting. These stripes are often overlooked but to me represent the beauty and simplicity of color, pattern, and design in Italy.
To make the dark green dough: Measure the 120 g flour into a medium bowl and form a well in the center. In a mortar and pestle, crush about 1 - 2 cups of spinach leaves until a paste forms. Measure 35 grams into the well of the flour. Also add 1 egg and 1 g of cuttlefish ink or squid ink. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into a homogeneous mixture with a fork, adding flour gradually until a shaggy mound of dough forms. Transfer dough onto a clean, lightly floured bench and knead for 5-10 minutes until gluten develops. You'll know it's ready when the dough springs back when pressed.
To make the white dough: Measure 120 grams of flour into another bowl and form a well in the center. Add 85 grams of egg white (from 2-3 eggs or a carton). Slowly incorporate the egg white into the flour until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until ready.
Wrap both pasta doughs in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
To make the filling: In a saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter over medium heat. With a whisk, slowly incorporate 1 tbsp flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring to cook out the flour taste. Next add the ricotta, 2 egg yolks, parmesan, salt, and whisk. The ricotta should melt into a velvety sauce and thicken as it cooks. Cook for 5-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. In a separate bowl, whisk 2 egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cooled ricotta mixture until combined. Transfer to a piping bag and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
To make the pasta: On a floured work surface, flatten both white and green doughs with a floured rolling pin. If making by hand, use a rolling pin to press and roll dough into a thin, nearly translucent long sheet (the shape of a long scarf). If using a machine, roll dough until it fits in the first thickness setting. Continue running through the pasta machine on thinner settings until setting 4/5 (out of 8/9). It should be the thickness of fabric, not thin like newspaper. You still want it to have some chew and stability since it will be filled.
Repeat rolling out the pasta with the green dough. If cutting by hand, flour the dough and fold vertically several times. Cut even thin 1/4" slices across the entire dough and unfurl into tagliatelle. If using a machine, use the cutting attachment. Next, lightly brush the top of the white dough with water or egg white (being very conservative). One at a time, take a piece of the cut green dough and secure it on top of the white dough as a stripe. Repeat the process, spacing the cut green pasta with a width of a stripe between each. When finished, lightly press the dough together to secure it with a rolling pin. Then, run through your pasta machine on the final setting you used (4/5). Then, run through the 6 setting into the final design. If rolling by hand, roll out with a light dusting of flour until the strips slightly increase in size.
To fill the agnolotti: Prepare your dough oriented in front of you wider than it is tall. Take your piping bag full of filling out of the fridge and snip the bag about 1/2" from the tip. Pipe an even line of filling along the pasta, close to the edge near you. It should be about 1/2" - 1" thick. Next, lightly brush the exposed pasta dough immediately above the line of filling with egg white or water. Then, take the bottom edge of dough and carefully fold it up and over the filling, pressing into the egg or water washed dough. Press down lightly to seal. Next, form pincers with both hands using your thumb and middle finger. Hold the tube of dough and pinch evenly on both sides of a 1" section, forming a small square of filled dough with each pinch. It also helps to push the dough slightly forward while doing this. You should end up with a "wall" of dough of alternating pinched dough and filling pockets, standing upright. The excess dough should be flat on the counter in front. Take your pasta cutter and trim the excess dough so the excess extends about 1/2". To make your individual agnolotti, take your pasta cutter and while holding the filling pockets with your non-dominant hand, cut the pinched spaces, rolling forward, propelling the freed pieces of agnolotti forward onto the counter like rolling boulders. When you're done, you should have about a dozen pockets of pasta that naturally fold over the excess edge.
To cook/assemble: Prepare your final plate. Heat water in a large pot for 10 minutes until lightly boiling. Generously salt. In a sauté pan, cook butter over medium heat until bubbly. It should start to brown when you add your pasta to the boiling water. Add your pasta and gently stir. Cook for 1 minute, or until the pasta floats to the top. Immediately transfer your agnolotti to the brown butter. The butter at this point should be golden brown and rapidly bubbling. Toss to combine and squeeze in the juice of a lemon cheek. Immediately transfer to your plate and wipe edges to clean. Grate over fresh parmesan and sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt.