Pasta Ripiena in Brodo

Ricotta-Coated Pasta Squares in Broth

This, and the recipe that follows, are soups I remember from my school days. When I was ready to begin work on my thesis, my professor switched from the University of Padua to that of Ferrara, where I followed him. With most of my fellow students I shared two basic problems, money and hunger: little of the former and consequently much of the latter. A family that was friendly with mine knew of my predicament and, from time to time, would ask me to join their Sunday dinner. Everything I had at their table seemed good, but the dish I recall with the greatest satisfaction is this stuffed pasta soup, typical of Sundays at home in Ferrara.

Although it does look like small ravioli, to describe it as stuffed pasta is somewhat misleading. It is actually two wafer-thin layers of pasta bound to one another by a scantily spread coating composed of ricotta, Parmesan, egg, and nutmeg. It is hearty and satiating, as pasta must be, yet extraordinarily fine and light.

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Ingredients

  • ¼ pound whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan), plus additional for the table
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • Salt
  • Homemade pasta made with 2 large eggs and about cups flour, as described
  • 6 cups Homemade Meat Broth

Method

  1. Place the ricotta in a bowl, discarding as much of its liquid as possible. Add the grated cheese, egg and extra yolk, nutmeg, and very liberal grindings of pepper. Mix thoroughly with a fork to amalgamate all the ingredients evenly. Taste and correct for salt.
  2. Make the pasta, thinning it out to the narrowest setting on the machine. Lay each strip of pasta flat and, using a flexible rubber spatula, spread a thin coating of the ricotta mixture over the entire length, but only half the width, of the strip. Do not coat the pasta to the very edge of the strip, but stop about ½ inch short of it.
  3. Fold the uncoated side of the strip over the other half, meeting it edge to edge, but not pressing down on it.
  4. With a pastry cutting wheel cut the pasta into 1-inch squares. Place the squares on a towel laid out flat on a counter. Check to see that they are tightly sealed and make sure they do not overlap or touch each other. If you are going to use them several hours later, turn them over from time to time.
  5. Bring the broth to a boil, then drop in the pasta. Do not let it boil too fast. As soon as the pasta is done—it should be a little firm to the bite—serve it along with the broth. Have grated cheese available on the side.

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