Cuscini Di Neve — Pillows of Snow

Spending time with your babies in the kitchen is life-giving. It’s messy and it can be frustrating, but it’s important to teach them how to cook with love. Let me start out by saying that I am not Italian; this recipe is inspired by simple Italian cuisine. I have long been in love with Italian cooking and making fresh pasta. My children can knead the dough without ruining it, and they can happily slurp up the labor of their hands and feel proud at dinnertime. This dough is simple, and making it is a lovely project for those of us tackling new kitchen goals and trying to introduce our families to more wholesome home cooking.

When I first thought of this idea, I was grating a light cloud of Parmesan onto a beautiful bowl of pasta e fagioli. Then I thought, Oh my gosh, wouldn’t it be lovely to make a stuffed ravioli and cover it in the same clouds of snow! In Italian cooking, many of the pasta shapes imitate life: Orecchiette, the little ear; or farfalle, which means butterflies! After I looked up the Italian words for pillows of snow, Cuscini di Neve was born: simple three-cheese-stuffed egg pasta tossed in brown butter and black pepper, covered in lightly grated Parmesan cheese. My family loves them, and I hope yours does, too.

Cuscini Di Neve

Prep time 1 hour

Rest time 30 minutes

Cook time 3–5 minutes

Makes 48–56 ravioli

FRESH PASTA DOUGH

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 5 large or XL eggs
  • Pinch of salt

FILLING

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste (You will have some cheese left over; it makes a fabulous grilled cheese!)

TO FINISH

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 5-ounce block of Parmesan cheese

Method

Begin by making the pasta. Knead the flour, eggs, and salt by hand, or in a stand mixer, for 15 minutes. The dough will look very shaggy and feel as though it’s not coming together. Keep kneading! I used my stand mixer to get it going until it formed a ball that was tacky but not wet. I continued to knead 7–10 minutes. Knead until the pasta dough is smooth and soft. Cover in plastic wrap, and allow to rest 30–60 minutes.

When the pasta is ready to roll, it’ll hold the indents of your finger when pressed and not spring back.

1. Cut the pasta into 4 even sections. Allow each section to rest in a pile of flour. Work quickly so the pasta does not dry out.

2. Form each section of pasta into a rectangle, and begin rolling it through your pasta machine, 2–3 times for each number. Start with a 1 and end with a 7 or 8.

3. Trim the edges of the pasta. I cut each rectangle in half, so I end up with 8 sheets of pasta to fill.

4. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the cheeses for the filling.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

6. Place 6–8 round teaspoons of filling in the center of the pasta sheet, so it resembles ants on a log.

7. Fold the edge of the filled pasta over to encase the teaspoons of filling.

8. Press gently to seal each pocket. If the pasta has become too dry to seal, run a touch of egg wash around the edges, and press firmly. Use a pasta cutter or butter knife to slice the pasta into ravioli.

9. Gently handle each ravioli, and press firmly to remove air bubbles and ensure a proper seal.

10. Rest the finished pastas in a dusting of flour as you finish each row.

11. Cook the pasta 3–5 minutes in the boiling water.

12. While the pasta cooks, melt butter and black pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

13. Once the butter foams, transfer the cooked ravioli with a slotted spoon to the hot butter. Cook 2–3 minutes, and serve with generous amounts of fresh grated Parmesan.

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