It’s been a while since we’ve made a filled pasta, and agnolotti is one of the easiest and fastest to make. Of course, you can make another filled pasta shape; scarpinocc is another easy filled pasta. Or, of course, there’s always ravioli (see Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lemon Pepper Pasta for shaping ravioli). The filling for today’s post is based around sale items from the store.
We happened to pick up a piece of Gruyère about a week ago on a half-off sale. It was nearing the sell-by date, so the store marked it down with the idea that it’s better to sell than to toss. We agree, especially since real cheese (or any food, really) won’t be fine one day and inedible the next. So, we picked it up. The cauliflower also was on a pretty good sale, and, since we’re still having summer weather, we haven’t been getting cruciferious vegetables from the CSA lately.
This recipe comes directly from the bargain buying team at the Scratchin’ It annex. Also, we’re just going to give instructions for making the Cauliflower and Gruyère filling. Here is a link to Shaping Agnolotti, which will give you details on making the pasta shapes.
Naturally, use a neutral oil in place of olive oil if you wish. The only reason we use white pepper in this recipe is the color. We didn’t want too many black specks in the filling. If you don’t have white pepper, black pepper is fine. Our choice of Gruyère cheese (somewhat like Swiss) is based on having picked it up on sale; any other strong hard cheese — Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, etc., will work.
Procedure in detail:
Cook onions. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with, oh, about 1/4 teaspoon of salt to get them releasing juices. Add a couple grinds of pepper, then stir. Continue cooking the onions, stirring occasionally, until they’re tender, but not browned.
Add cauliflower and simmer. Add the garlic, cauliflower, curry powder, nutmeg, and thyme, along with 3/4 cup of water. Let the mixture come back to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until the cauliflower is completely tender, about 20 minutes.
Cool. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool, as you don’t want to melt the cheese, nor cook the egg, when you add it to the mix. Once cool, transfer to the bowl of a food processor.
Process. Pulse a few times to get the cauliflower chopped a bit. It’ll look somewhat like cooked rice. Feel the sides of the bowl to see if the cauliflower is cool enough — chopping will break apart the large pieces, exposing the still hot center. If need be, let the cauliflower mixture cool a little longer.
Add cheese. We just chopped our cheese into small bits with a chef’s knife. We figured the food processor could take it from there, and why dirty a grater if you don’t have to? Once you’ve added the cheese, pulse and process until it’s chopped and ground finely. Don’t worry too much if there are a few pieces remaining; we’ll get those chopped as we add and process more ingredients.
Add egg. Add the egg and process for about 30 seconds. This will help transform the mixture into a paste, and make sure all the pieces of cheese are chopped finely, making a smooth mixture.
Add bread crumbs. The amount of bread crumbs you need will depend on how moist your mixture is. Start with about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and process, then check to see if the filling will hold its shape. We just push a rubber spatula through the filling and see if it slumps back in. If so, more bread crumbs.
Taste and salt. Okay, you’re pretty much finished, except for the most important part, tasting and adding salt. Give the filling a taste and add salt as needed, pulsing to incorporate. When you’ve added enough, process for 20-30 seconds just to make sure everything is well mixed.
Fill agnolotti. We do have a few photos for this, but full details can be found in our Shaping Agnolotti post. Remember that when you cook these up, as with any filled pasta, you should simmer, and not boil, to prevent them from breaking apart.
While we haven’t tried these agnolotti yet — we freeze them for later and cook up right from the freezer — we did try the filling. It’s delicious. The cauliflower pairs very well with the nutty taste of the Gruyère cheese. Not surprisingly, since cooked cauliflower has a slightly nutty taste; not as noticeable when it’s simmered, as in this recipe, but very noticeable if the cauliflower is roasted. Sure, it’s a bit of trouble to make filled pasta, but we think it’s worth four stars, anyway.
UPDATE: We cooked up some agnolotti for dinner one night, and they’re really tasty. Make sure to try them.