Pasta Rounds with Spinach-Ricotta Mousse

Total Time:
2 hr 40 min
Prep:
1 hr
Inactive:
30 min
Cook:
1 hr 10 min

Yield:
8 servings
Level:
Intermediate

CATEGORIES
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 1/2 pound mascarpone
  • 1 bunch (about 1/2 pound) spinach, washed, dried, and trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon (1 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) grated mozzarella
  • 1 ounce dry-aged goat cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 3/4 recipe (18 ounces) Basic Pasta Dough or Herb Pasta Dough, recipes follow
  • Semolina or all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3 cups Tomato Garlic Basil Sauce, recipe follows
  • Basic Pasta Dough:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • Semolina or all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Herb Pasta Dough:
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water, if needed
  • Semolina or all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Tomato Garlic Basil Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled, trimmed, and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup chicken stock, heated
  • 6 to 8 basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, puree the ricotta, mascarpone, and half the spinach. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and reserve.

In a small skillet or saucepan, melt the butter. Saute the remaining spinach just until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Coarsely chop and let cool.

In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Cool and fold into the cheese mixture with the cooled spinach, mozzarella, goat cheese, egg, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and set the mousse aside.

Cut the pasta dough into 4 pieces. On a surface dusted lightly with flour, with a pasta machine or by hand, roll out the first piece to a rectangle 20 inches long and 4 inches wide, keeping the remaining dough covered until needed. Trim the rectangle as needed to even the sides. Spread 1/4 of the mousse over the lower part of the length of the dough. Roll the dough over the filling, enclosing it completely, forming a 20-inch by 1-inch pasta roll. Cut the roll into approximately 1-inch pieces, yielding 20 slices. Repeat with the remaining dough and mousse.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and brush 8 (4-inch) tart pans with the butter. Arrange 10 of the pasta slices in a circle, cut-side up, in each pan (it will be a tight squeeze, but it can be done) and sprinkle each circle with grated Parmesan. Set the pans on a baking tray for easier handling and bake for 15 minutes. Invert each of the pasta rounds out of the tart pans onto the tray and continue to bake until both sides are golden brown. This should take another 15 to 20 minutes. The pasta will be crisp.

To serve, heat the Tomato Garlic Basil Sauce, and spoon a little in the center of each of 10 warmed plates. Set 1 of the rounds on the sauce and serve immediately. Pass the remaining sauce in a small bowl.

Basic Pasta Dough:

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, egg yolks, salt, olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of water. Process until the dough begins to hold together, then stop the machine, and pinch the dough to test it. If it's too dry, add up to 1 more tablespoon of water and process until it forms a moist ball. Turn out on a lightly floured smooth work surface and knead by hand, until a smooth ball is formed. Loosely wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Keep the other pieces covered in plastic while you roll out 1 piece at a time, by hand with a rolling pin or through the rollers of a pasta machine, stretching the dough to the desired thickness.

If using a pasta machine, set the rollers at the widest opening. Flatten the first piece of dough into a thick strip no wider than the machine, to enable it to pass through the rollers. If necessary, dust the pasta very lightly with flour. Run the pasta through the machine. Fold in thirds, crosswise, and run through the machine again. Repeat this procedure at least twice more, or until the dough is smooth and somewhat elastic. Set the machine to the next smaller opening and run the dough through the rollers.

Continue rolling and stretching the dough, using the smaller opening each time, until the next to the last or the last opening is reached, dusting lightly with flour only as necessary. (The strip of dough will be long. If you don't have enough space on your worktable, halfway through the rolling process cut the strip of dough in half and continue to work with each piece separately, keeping the unused dough covered).

Adjust the cutting mechanism to the desired width, cut the noodles, and allow them to dry before cooking. A convenient way to dry pasta is to arrange the cut pasta on a pastry tray sprinkled with flour, preferably semolina flour. As 1 layer is completed, sprinkle flour over the noodles, place a piece of parchment paper over them, and continue layering with noodles and flour. Dry for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Yield: 1 1/2 pounds or 6 to 8 servings

Herb Pasta Dough:

Prepare the herb tea: In a very small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add the herbs and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat and reduce to 1/4 cup. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes. Cool.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, egg yolks, salt, olive oil, and herb tea. Process until the dough begins to hold together, then stop the machine, and pinch the dough to test it. If it's too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water and process until it forms a moist ball. Turn out on a lightly floured smooth work surface and knead by hand, forming a smooth ball. Loosely wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Keep the other pieces covered in plastic while you roll out 1 piece at a time, by hand with a rolling pin or through the rollers of a pasta machine, stretching the dough to the desired thickness.

If using a pasta machine, set the rollers at the widest opening. Flatten the first piece of dough into a thick strip no wider than the machine, to enable it to pass through the rollers. If necessary, dust the pasta very lightly with flour. Run the pasta through the machine. Fold in thirds, crosswise, and run through the machine again. Repeat this procedure at least twice, or until the dough is smooth and somewhat elastic. Set the machine to the next smaller opening and run the dough through the rollers.

Continue rolling and stretching the dough, using the smaller opening each time, until the next to the last or the last opening is reached, dusting lightly with flour only as necessary. (The strip of dough will be long. If you don't have enough space on your worktable, halfway through the rolling process cut the strip of dough in half and continue to work with each piece separately, keeping the unused dough covered).

Adjust the cutting mechanism to the desired width, cut the noodles, and allow them to dry before cooking. A convenient way to dry pasta is to arrange the cut pasta on a pastry tray sprinkled with flour, preferably semolina flour. As 1 layer is completed, sprinkle flour over the noodles, place a piece of parchment paper over them, and continue layering with noodles and flour. Dry for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Yield: 1 1/2 pounds, or 6 to 8 servings

Tomato Garlic Basil Sauce:

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Over medium-high heat, saute the onion just until wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the tomato paste, and then the tomatoes, cook 2 or 3 minutes, and pour in the chicken stock. Reduce until the sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain into a clean saucepan.

Cut the basil leaves into a chiffonade* and stir into the sauce. Whisk in the butter, piece by piece, and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

* To make a chiffonade, stack 2 or 3 basil leaves, roll the stack lengthwise, and slice the roll crosswise into thin strips. Repeat until you have the necessary amount.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

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