Recipe: Caramelle with cheese, spinach, and roast vine tomatoes.

An easy Sunday night supper for you.  All right, I might be a bit out of touch in claiming that an “easy” meal involves making your own filled pasta from scratch, but really, start cutting corners in that department and it’s just a slippery slope to moral decrepitude.  As Isherwood says, “Isn’t it the start of a long landslide – from eating at counters and drinking at bars to drinking at home without eating, to despair and sleeping pills and the inevitable final overdose?”  Fine, he was talking about eating alone rather than preferring packet pasta to home-made, but the principle is the same.  Avoid suicide by disciplining yourself into making meals for one that take about 30 times longer to prepare than they do to eat.

If it is any consolation caramelle, filled pasta shaped to resemble a wrapped sweet (is there no end to those zany Italians’ pasta japery?), give me far less grief than some other filled pasta shapes.  It seems much easier to eradicate air pockets in them than, say, ravioli, and they are less fiddly to make than tortellini.

Ingredients

100g “Tipo 00” flour

A hen’s egg

250g spinach

125g ricotta

20g parmesan cheese

Nutmeg

A pinch of chilli flakes

8-10 cherry tomatoes, preferably still on the vine

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. In a food processor, blend the flour and egg (contents only) until a sticky ball forms.  Wrap the ball in cling film and refrigerate for about half an hour.
  2. Meanwhile make your filling.  Place the spinach in a medium pan with a tablespoon of water.  Cover with a lid and place over a medium-high flame until wilted, stirring occasionally.  Drain in a sieve or colander and press very hard with the back of a spoon to extract as much moisture as you can. Chop the spinach roughly.
  3. Mix the spinach with the ricotta, 10g of the parmesan, the chilli flakes, and nutmeg/salt/pepper to taste.  You could also add such other herbs or spices as you see fit – maybe thyme, oregano, tarragon, chervil, basil, dill or chives – such is the joy of making one’s own pasta.
  4. Roll out the pasta until it is thin enough to fit through the pasta machine set to its thickest setting.  Pass the dough through the machine at its thickest setting several times, folding the sheet back on itself between passes, until the dough is soft and smooth.  Then keep passing through the machine at each setting until you have reached the thinnest setting.  If you are a real masochist you could do this with a rolling pin.  See how forgiving I am?
  5. Place teaspoons of filling at even intervals (about 5cm) along the rolled-out pasta.  Cut between each mound of filling with a knife.  Fold the pasta over the filling and roll to make a little cylinder.  Then pinch or twist the ends together to form the shape of a wrapped sweet.
  6. Heat the oven to 200C.  Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, pepper and drizzle of olive oil.  Roast for about 10 minutes.
  7. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil.  Boil the pasta for about 2 minutes or until cooked through.  Drain.
  8. Serve the pasta topped with olive oil, the remaining cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and the roasted tomatoes, on or off the vine as is your preference.

Serves 1.

Wine suggestion: any Italian white wine with good flavour (if you can find one).  Maybe the 2009 Sartarelli Verdicchio Classico, which has a pleasant grapefruit tang to it that does the job of providing sufficient acidity to match the tomato and cut through the cheese as well as providing freshness of flavour to match what is a fairly light dish.

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