I’m going to level with you, these Pumpkin Bocconcini Agnolotti are a straight-up project. I submit them as a meatless holiday feast option with one simple caveat: you must make them only for your nearest and dearest. This is not a meal you make for a crowd and it is not something you make for people you want to impress. Stuffed pasta does not respond well to pressure. But if you’re having a few pals by for Christmas Eve or hosting your immediate family for an intimate holiday dinner, these divine little pillows are the perfect special dinner option. After all, nothing says “I love you” like hand-formed pasta. Particularly stuffed hand-formed pasta. So let’s get into it!
Now, I know I probably scared a few people away with my disclaimers, so let me walk them back a bit. I don’t want to give the impression that hand-formed pasta is a zero-fun activity. I love doing it. But it can turn into a zero-fun activity if the context isn’t right. You don’t want to feel like a machine in a factory, so keep your numbers small. Make these Pumpkin Bocconcini Agnolotti in advance and freeze them for a quick serving. And make peace with the fact that there will be some trial and error. Luckily the busted agnolotti taste just as good as the picture-perfect ones.
If you follow this recipe to a T, I promise there will be fewer “chef’s treats”. I’ve screwed up my agnolotti in what I believe is every possible way, so you don’t have to. Heed my advice and you’ll be a pro in an afternoon. Or pro-ish. I’m no Italian Nona.
The first thing we’re going to do is make the pasta dough. This is my go-to dough. It does require one special and I believe crucial ingredient – semolina flour. I find it fairly reliably at the Bulk Barn but you can also find it at most Italian grocery stores. Whisk to combine equal parts flour and semolina flour. Add salt and form a well in the centre. Pour four egg yolks into the well and crack in two eggs. Add a little water and whisk to combine. Start gradually integrating the dry ingredients into the wet until a stiff dough forms. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes then form it into a ball. Wrap the dough tightly and let rest for 30 minutes. This will help the dough fully hydrate and give the gluten a chance to relax.
While the pasta dough is luxuriating, we’re going to get started on the filling for our Pumpkin Bocconcini Agnolotti. First, we’re going to roast a whole head of garlic. This a very simple process. All you have to do is lob the top of a head of garlic off, so all the cloves are exposed. Drizzle the garlic with olive oil and wrap it in tin foil. Pop the garlic in a 400° F oven and roast for 30-40 minutes or until the garlic is butter.
When the head of garlic is cool enough to handle, pop the cloves into a large bowl. The cloves should slide out of their skins without much protest. Once all the cloves are in there, mash them with a fork until they are more or less mush. To this garlic mush, add some pumpkin mush. I’m using canned pure pumpkin puree. You can, of course, roast and puree a pumpkin, but you’re already making pasta from scratch so I think you’re entitled to a shortcut here and there. Just make sure you pick up a can of “pure pumpkin” and not pumpkin pie filling. I’m not saying sugar and cloves will ruin your agnolotti but they would certainly result in a very different vibe. To the pumpkin and garlic, add some very finely chopped sage and some salt. Stir everything together and that’s your filling done.
Now it’s time to roll out the pasta dough. As always I use my handy Kitchen Aid pasta roller for this. I rolled my pasta out a little thicker this time, to prevent any splits. When you add filling to pasta it is more prone to splitting if it’s rolled too thin. Save the near-see-through pasta sheets for lasagna and fettuccine. I rolled my pasta out to a number three on my pasta roller. The number may be different on your machine.
Once the dough has been rolled out, create a series of dollops of the pumpkin mixture along the centre of the pasta sheets. Top each dollop with half of a piece of mini bocconcini and roll the pasta over top, to form a sort of tube around the filling. Using your finger, create a series of indents to section off each portion of the filling. Make sure you leave the ends of each row open, so the air has somewhere to escape to. Seal the ends and trim the excess pasta. Slice along the indents you made with your fingers to create individual agnolotti. At this point, you can freeze the agnolotti or pop them in the fridge and cook them in a few hours. You can also cook them right away – no judgement here.
When you’re ready to cook your agnolotti, heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Fry some sage leaves in the oil until quite crispy. Transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel and set them aside to drain. Add butter to the skillet and simmer until it turns a light amber colour. Stir in some chilli flakes and pecan pieces and sauté for a minute more. Keep the sauce warm while you cook the agnolotti.
Bring a large pot of water up to a boil. Liberally salt the water and add the agnolotti. Let them cook until they rise to the surface. This shouldn’t take all that long. Fresh pasta only needs about 3 minutes to cook. Remove the agnolotti from the water using a spider or a large slotted spoon and arrange them on a plate. Drizzle each serving with the brown butter and finish with the fried sage. Serve immediately.
And that’s all you need to know about these Pumpkin Bocconcini Agnolotti. These are a wonderful meatless option for a holiday meal but they are also a great kitchen project to undertake during the mushy middle. You know, that space of time between Christmas and New Year’s when you’re not sure what day it is and you really don’t care? It’s my favourite part of the festive season.
Pumpkin Bocconcini Agnolotti with Brown Chili Butter
- 1 Pasta maker I used the Kitchen Aid attachment
- 1 Large pot
- 1 piping bag
- 1 large round piping tip
- 1 Large skillet
- 160g (5.5oz) semolina flour
- 160g (5.5oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp water
Pumpkin Sage Filling
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1½ cups pure pumpkin puree
- 2 tbsp fresh sage finely chopped
- 2 tsp salt
Pumpkin Bocconcini Agnolotti
- 1 batch Homemade Pasta see above
- 1 bacth Pumpkin Sage Filling see above
- 1 (200g, 6 fl oz) tub mini bocconcini drained and cut in half
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 24 fresh sage leaves
- ¼ cup salted butter
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- ⅓ cup pecan pieces
For the Pasta
- Pour the semolina flour, all-purpose flour, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Form a well in the center and add the egg yolks, eggs, and water to the well. Whisk to combine the wet ingredients. Gradually start to integrate the dry ingredients into the wet until a dough forms.160g (5.5oz) semolina flour, 160g (5.5oz) all-purpose flour, 1 tsp kosher salt, 4 egg yolks, 2 large eggs, 1 tbsp water
- Knead the dough until smooth and silky. ** Form the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 minutes.
For the Pumpkin Filling
- While the pasta dough is resting, make the filling. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the top of the head of garlic off and drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap the head tightly with tin foil and place it in the oven. Roast for 40 minutes or until garlic is buttery soft. Take the tin foil off and let it cool.1 head garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil
- When the garlic is cool enough to handle, pop the cloves out of their skins into a large bowl. Mash the garlic with a fork until quite smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, sage, and salt. Stir to combine. Set the filling aside.1½ cups pure pumpkin puree, 2 tbsp fresh sage, 2 tsp salt
For the Agnolotti
- Divide the pasta dough into eight equally sized pieces. Working with a piece at a time, roll each bit of dough out into sheets. *** I rolled my pasta out to a number 3 on my Kitchen Aid pasta maker. Transfer the sheets to a baking sheet dusted with semolina flour. Cover the pasta and set it aside.1 batch Homemade Pasta
- Transfer the Pumpkin Filling to a large piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Take a sheet of pasta and make a series of dollops of the filling down the center of the pasta sheet. Make sure they are evenly spaced. Place a bocconcini half on top of each dollop.1 bacth Pumpkin Sage Filling, 1 (200g, 6 fl oz) tub mini bocconcini
- Take the long edge of the pasta sheet nearest to you. Fold it over the filling and tuck it underneath it to form a tube. Leaving both ends open, press the pasta together in the gaps between the dollops of filling.**** Seal the two ends and trim the excess pasta. Slice into individual agnolotti. Transfer to a baking sheet dusted with semolina flour. *****
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add the sage leaves and fry until crispy. ****** Transfer the fried sage to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside to drain.2 tbsp olive oil, 24 fresh sage leaves
- Add the butter to the skillet and gently cook until it turns a soft amber colour. Add the chili flakes and the pecan pieces and saute for a minute more. Keep the sauce warm while you cook the pasta.¼ cup salted butter, 1 tsp chili flakes, ⅓ cup pecan pieces
- Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Liberally salt the water and add the agnolotti. Cook for 3 minutes or until the agnolotti rise to the top.
- Remove the agnolotti from the water using a spider or a large slotted spoon. Divide the agnolotti between four plates and drizzle with the brown chili butter. Top with the pecan pieces and fried sage. Serve immediately.