It’s been a while since we showed you how to shape a type of pasta, so we thought that we’d cover making scarpinocc. It’s a filled pasta — the original recipe we saw called for tallagio cheese and black pepper — similar to the caramelle we’ve made in the past, but a little easier. Our filling was a simple goat cheese and pumpkin filling that we mixed up quickly in a food processor: about a cup of drained pumpkin, 6 ounces of fresh goat cheese, a couple of eggs, basil, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to use a filling that you like.
Finding this shape is a bit convoluted; we think we saw it in Flour + Water: Pasta, by Thomas McNaughton and Paolo Lucchesi, but, for some reason, we remembered it as a filling that used mainly breadcrumbs. We looked through our files, but determined that it was probably lost in the great computer meltdown several years ago. When we searched for a ravioli filling that’s mainly breadcrumbs, we got thousands of hits on fried ravioli (all coated with breadcrumbs). Eventually, we found Wild Greens and Sardines, which shows how to make scarpinocc, so we made that instead; we still hope to find the breadcrumb-filled ravioli recipe one day.
Since this is mainly about shaping the pasta, we assume that you have a filling in a piping bag and a double batch of Basic Pasta Dough (or another pasta dough) all ready to go. Make sure to divide your dough into manageable-sized pieces and work with one at a time while you keep the rest covered in plastic wrap. We cut our double batch into eight pieces of dough.
Roll out dough. This is easiest if you have a pasta machine, but it can be done with a rolling pin, too. We’ve done it. Whichever method you choose, roll the pasta thin. We normally roll ours to the second from the lowest setting, which is slightly less than 1/16th of an inch. We’ve tried using even thinner sheets to make filled pasta, but we end up with their breaking open during boiling. As an aside, you can find perfectly good pasta machines at thrift stores: we picked up ours for a whopping $5.43.
Cut rectangles. Once you have a sheet of pasta, cut out rectangles that are 2 x 2 1/2 inches in size. We do measure these using our bench knife — it has measurements on it — to make our scarpinocc uniform in size. All the scraps can be re-rolled with the next piece of pasta dough.
Pipe filling. Pipe a bead of filling down the center of the rectangle in the longest direction, leaving about 1/2 inch of space on each end. This will be the ends that you crimp closed in just a bit.
Fold dough. You can either fold or roll the dough so you have the pasta dough wrapped around the filling. Think of it as folding a piece of paper around an object, with the idea of having two layers on one side and a single layer on the other. Place the tube of folded pasta on your work surface with the double layer on the bottom.
Crimp ends. Use your index finger and thumb to crimp the ends closed in an inverted “T” shape. You’ll be pinching together the top layer of the pasta dough to form the vertical bar, while at the same time, pressing down to close off the horizontal bar. It’s difficult to explain, but easy to do.
Press center. Now, simply take your finger and press down in the center of the filling to form a dimple. The pasta filling moves to the side and the top and bottom layers of dough are pressed together. This will help seal the rolled portion of the pasta; plus, it’ll make the scarpinocc look great. Once formed, transfer to a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or dusted with flour.
Freeze. Place the baking sheets in the freezer until the pasta is at least partly frozen. Transfer to a bag for longer-term storage in the freezer. When cooking, simply drop frozen scarpinocc into simmering water, cook, and serve with your favorite sauce.
This really is one of the easier filled pasta shapes to make. Much easier than ravioli, for example. With two people working, we made about 90 scarpinocc in roughly half an hour. Not bad. We really like this shape, too. It’s completely different from any other pasta shape we’ve seen, and it just looks fun. Oh, as an aside, scarpinocc is supposed to refer to shoes. Go figure? Five stars.