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Leek, Pea & Mint Mezzelune with Asapragus & Burrata

Photos, text and recipe by Cathrin Simon


Spring is in the air and with it comes the aroma of these spring-filled mezzelune that I just can’t get enough of. This is one of those stuffed pasta recipes where I can’t stop myself from having a spoonful or two of pure filling before (and while) shaping the pasta. The combination of seasonal greens and freshly grated cheese is well-balanced and the touch of mint gives it that little extra kick. Served with melted butter, chargrilled green asparagus, roasted pine nuts, and a juicy burrata, I can almost guarantee you’ll want to make more than one portion of this dish.

Often when I create recipes I look to seasonal ingredients as the starting point. That way I can get fresh veggies, more often than not even from regional farmers, matching my ambition to be more in tune with the environment and world around me. For this recipe I had one word in mind: spring! And immediately the ingredients started popping up in my mind: Leek! Peas! Asparagus! Mint! I decided that asparagus would be a great veggie to serve with the finished pasta. With the other ingredients, I set about creating a pasta filling. The combination of pecorino romano with these flavorful green veggies turned out to be just right, the deep tones of this aged cheese adding subtle earthy notes. 

The way I describe it above is my usual method for recipe development, thinking of ingredients I want to use and then finding the right way to combine them. Usually cheese comes into the equation at some point, as here with the pecorino romano, although ricotta is also a great base for pasta fillings – maybe with a touch of grated parmesan. I hope you’ll try this recipe (it really is delicious!) but more than that I hope this helps you develop your own favorite seasonal recipes. Buon appetito!

Leek, Pea & Mint Mezzelune with Asparagus & Burrata

Serves 4

Prep time: 45 Minutes
Cook time: 15 Minutes

Special Equipment:

Ingredients

For the pasta dough:
400 grams finely ground flour (preferably 00, all-purpose will work as well)
50 grams semolina flour
255 grams eggs (around 5 eggs, you can choose to replace some of the egg white with extra yolk)
Optional: 1 tablespoon green spirulina powder

For the pasta filling:
300 grams green peas (frozen will work as well)
4 leek stalks, cut into thin rings
Leaves of one mint plant, about 40 grams (save some as extra garnish)
100 grams pecorino romano, finely grated
A pinch of sugar
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

To serve:
4 tablespoons butter
1 bunch green asparagus
2 tablespoons pine nuts
8 ounces burrata (about 2 balls)

Method

To make the dough:

As you can see in my photos I worked with two colors of dough. You can do so as well, just halve the ingredients and add the green spirulina powder in with the eggs to one half. Or simply make one regular egg dough, skipping this optional step.

For the dough, place the flours into a bowl, stirring them with your fingers. Create a little well in the center, add the eggs into it and use your fork to scramble the egg. The egg mixture will quickly thicken up as some of the flours get incorporated. When you approach a custard-like consistency, start working the remaining dry ingredients in by scooping them over the center with your fingertips and pressing down. Repeat from all angles until there’s no loose flour left.

Turn the dough onto a cutting board and start kneading the dough, for at least 15 minutes. In the beginning, your dough will be shaggy, but the longer you knead you will feel it transforming into a smooth dough. Wrap your dough in a lightly moistened kitchen towel and let it rest for at least 30 minutes, while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling:

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, then season it with salt and add the peas. Boil them until tender before rinsing them with ice-cold water to maintain the color.

Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan adding the leek with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Stir well, then cover to let it caramelize. Every few minutes, remove the lid and stir to make sure the leek cooks evenly.

Once soft, add the leek and the peas to a food processor, together with the grated pecorino romano and the mint leaves. Blitz these ingredients together until you have a smooth filling. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Fill this puree into a piping bag (or simply use a teaspoon to portion out the filling).

To shape the pasta:

Sheet out your pasta dough with your pasta machine.

Fold the sheet once lengthwise, then unfold and fold the two long edges towards the centerfold, unfolding them again as well. These folds mark where the center of each mezzeluna filling should be.

Use the ravioli stamp to make gentle indentations in two rows, centered on your created lines. Then portion your filling onto the center of each ravioli stamp indent. For the first few, err on the side of too little filling, increasing as you become more confident as to how much filling will fit without spilling out. Fold the outside edges of the sheet over the filling to meet in the center. Now use your ravioli stamp to cut out the mezzelune. Place them on a tray lined with a kitchen towel while you continue to work to avoid them sticking to your work surface.

To serve:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, blister the green asparagus in a very hot frying pan, then take them out and turn down the heat of the pan to medium to toast the pine nuts for a few minutes.

Add the butter to the warm frying pan and let it melt. When the pasta water is boiling, season it with salt and boil the mezzelune for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your dough. Transfer them directly from the water to the pan with the melted butter and gently stir to coat them in the butter. Divide the pasta between 4 plates, arranging the asparagus, pine nuts, some mint leaves, and half a burrata on top. Drizzle with the remaining butter.

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