Pansotti Pasta with Walnut Sauce Recipe from Liguria
Pansotti pasta with walnut sauce is a traditional dish from the Italian Riviera in Liguria, Northwest Italy. It is a stuffed ravioli-like pasta filled with ricotta and a variety of herbs and greens. A delicious easy to make vegetarian recipe that is popular on Sundays and days of abstinence from meat such as Christmas Eve and particularly during Lent. A beautiful dish to serve at any occasion.
For pasta dough
- 500 g Italian '00' flour or all purpose flour (1.1lbs)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 serving white wine (2.5floz)
- 1/2 glass lukewarm water (4 floz) add gradually. you may need slightly less or more
- 1 pinch salt
- 300 g fresh Swiss chard (10.5oz) Stems removed
- 200 g spinach (7oz)
- 200 g wild chicory (radicchio) 7oz or borage
- 200 g fresh ricotta (7oz)
- 1 egg
- 40 g Parmigiano Reggiano (1.5oz) or vegetarian parmesan
- 2 sprigs fresh marjoram
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper. to taste
- 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
For walnut sauce
- 200 g shelled walnuts (7oz)
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- 40 g Parmigiano Reggiano (1.5 oz) or vegetarian parmesan
- 1 garlic clove
- 200 ml fresh milk (1 cup)
- 2 slices country bread
- extra virgin olive oil. as required
- 1 tsp fresh marjoram leaves
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper. to taste
Make the filling
Clean the greens and cook them in slightly salty water for 5-10 minutes until tender. Then drain, allow to cool and then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Chop the greens finely and put them into a bowl, add the egg, the ricotta, the Parmigiano cheese and the marjoram and add pinch of nutmeg. Mix everything together well. Add salt and pepper as required.
Make the pasta dough
Sift the flour into a bowl or onto a wooden pastry board. Make a well in the middle and crack the eggs into it. Beat them slightly with a fork, add the white wine, the water and a pinch of salt. Start mixing the liquids into the flour with a fork and then your hands.
When the dough starts ‘sticking together’ turn it out onto a pastry board (if starting in a bowl) and start kneading it by pressing and stretching it with the lower part of your palm, then roll it up and knead again. Continue until the dough is quite smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
If the dough seems too dry and flaky add a small quantity of water. You can check if it's elastic enough by pushing a finger into the dough. If it returns to its previous shape and the hole almost disappears, it’s ready.
Roll your dough into a ball and let it rest wrapped in plastic wrap or under a humid tea cloth for 30 minutes.
Make the walnut sauce
Put the shelled walnuts into a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse the walnuts, remove the skins by wiping with a cloth and pat the walnuts dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel (this step is optional).
Break the bread into pieces, put it in a bowl and cover with the milk. When it is completely wet, drain and squeeze the milk out with your hands.
Put the drained bread in the blender along with the walnuts and the garlic. Pulse a few times until the walnuts are quite small. Add the parmigiano cheese, pine nuts and 2 pinches of salt. Pulse for about 20 seconds until the sauce becomes a bit smooth.
Continue to pulse while adding olive oil a little at a time and the remaining milk from the bread or water as needed to obtain a thick creamy sauce.
Make the pansotti
Cut off about quarter of the dough. Leave the rest under a humid cloth or wrapped in plastic wrap (if the dough dries it will become more difficult to roll out and shape).
Roll the dough into a thin sheet by hand or with the help of a pasta machine and cut it into squares of 5-7 cm (2-3”). Put a heaped tsp of filling in the centre of each square. Wet the sides of the square with some water with the help of a brush and fold the dough over the filling into a triangle.
Press along the edges in order to seal the filling inside the pasta. Join the outer corners of the triangle together and press with your fingers to seal them. Lay the ready pansotti on a surface dusted with flour and sprinkle with a little more flour. I like to use semolina flour for dusting.
Finish and serve
Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt and bring to the boil again. Cook the pansotti for 8-10 minutes. Test taste before draining
Before draining the pasta, dilute the Ligurian walnut sauce with about ½ ladle of pasta cooking water in a pan large enough to hold the pasta too. Stir until the sauce becomes creamy and the right consistency. Also save a cup of the water to add later just in case your walnut sauce pasta seems dry.
Add the drained pansotti to the sauce along with some fresh marjoram leaves, freshly ground black pepper, some broken pieces of walnuts and a little more grated parmigiano. Mix everything together well gently and serve immediately.
You can make pansotti without eggs in the dough. Just increase the amount of water and wine slightly.
You can substitute the bread in the walnut sauce with ricotta.
Pansotti freeze really well. Just place the ready made pasta spread out on a tray in the freezer then transfer to a sealed freezer bag once frozen. Cook from frozen, don't defrost.
Vegetarians will need to use vegetarian parmesan as Italian parmigiano contains animal rennet.
This recipe makes 6 generous servings, but quantities can vary depending on the size of your pansotti.