Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mooning Over Mezzelune

Mezzalune are ravioli's more elegant cousins. These delicate, stuffed pastas are just as delicious as their heartier cousins and are just easy to make.It's a great change of pace from the usual pastas and a chance for home chefs to get creative.

David Tanis knows this and wrote about them in his A City Kitchen column in yesterday's New York Times Food section.Both ravioli and mezzalune are easy to make, especially if casings and fillings are made a few hours ahead. Home chefs don't need a fancy pasta machine to make it (although there are some who swear by the more elaborate machines). Mr. Tanis recommends a simple hand cranked one which is even easier than doing the original way - with a rolling pin.The dough is a basic egg based one, made golden with two large eggs plus two extra yolks. Home chefs could try it with a whole wheat version but the dough's texture  may be too dense,Making the dough ahead of time actually benefits it.Afterwards it should be well wrapped and kept at room temperature.Doing this  helps it to hydrate properly and allows it to be stretched more easily into a silky, tender consistency..Another plus is that once the mezzelune have been assembled they can be refrigerated for up to three hours before cooking.This gives home chefs plenty of time to make a dessert or salad. The pasta can be cooked up in only a few minutes , another boon for a busy home chef.

Mr. Tanis fills his mezzalune with, seasoned ricotta which  is always the base of the stuffed pasta .Nutmeg and lemon zest flavor it, along with blanched chopped spinach for taste and color.Some mezzalune fillings include chopped chicken if home chefs want something a bit heartier.Once the filling is made then its time to concentrate on making the pasta rounds. Use a sharp cookie cutter to punch out three inch rounds. There should be enough for thirty-six ravioli, -figure six servings of six mezzalune each. Dust the rounds with a light coating of semolina and keep covered with a damp towel to prevent drying. Once they 're all cut out then, put a tablespoon of filling on top of each round. Using a pastry brush or even a finger sparingly moisten the edge with water and fold over to create a half moon. The mezzalune will resemble mini  empenadas. Continue until all the rounds have been filled and place them on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment and dusted with more semolina. He uses fresh spring peas and shiitake mushrooms in a butter olive oil blend for the sauce. A more traditional version is a butter and sage sauce. Home chefs can also sub in morels or porcini mushrooms for the shiitake.

Mezzalune are a light,delcate alternative to ravioli, Make them with the produce of the season for a wonderful airy meal on a warm, Spring night, They are a lovely , elegant change of pace.

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