Cappellacci di zucca Ferrarese

This region of Italy, the type of pumpkin used is called violina – it’s long, orange-fleshed and sweet. Butternut would be a good substitute. This recipe has several stages but it’s not difficult – although actually making the cappellacci takes practise. It’s something to get the whole family doing. Stick with the same brand of flour – it was De Cecco in this session – so you get used to how it behaves. This is Vanda Soncini’s family recipe and these quantities serve 4 people.

For the filling:
1kg pumpkin in 6 large chunks
100g grated Parmesan cheese (4 heaping tablespoons)
1/5 grated nutmeg
salt pepper

For the dough:
200g all purpose flour
200g durum wheat semolina – or you could use 400g of semolina
4 eggs and 1 egg yolk

For the dressing:
120g butter
a generous amount of fresh, torn sage leaves
Grated parmesan cheese to serve

Vanda prefers to mix the flour and eggs in a bowl and uses a fork to incorporate everything. You could also make a flour well on a board – the choice is yours. Place the flour in a bowl, make a hollow in the center and add the eggs. Whisk with a fork gradually incorporating the flour. Once everything is mixed use your hands to knead the dough – this is easier on a floured board. After about 10 minutes you should have a soft and elastic dough. Let it rest, covered with a cloth or bowl, for an absolute minimum of 20 minutes – 30 minutes is better, and one hour does no harm at all.

Preheat the oven to 160C

Place the pumpkin pieces on a baking tray which you’ve covered with coarse salt – this helps to absorb moisture. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the flesh is soft. Cool, then remove the peel from the pulp. Mash the plump – it helps to sieve it to get rid of any lumps, then stir in the freshly grated nutmeg and grated Parmesan. Make sure the cheese is thoroughly mixed in. Put the mixture to one side while you roll out the dough. You can either use your pasta machine or follow Vanda’s method in her video. It’s easier if you divide the dough in two and make two batches.

Once you’ve rolled out the dough to 2 millimetres – so you can see your hand through it – use a pastry cutter to create 7 cm squares. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each square.

To make a cappellacco, fold the dough diagonally over the filling to make the two opposite corners meet and make a triangle. Then pull the two opposite corners round your forefinger to create the ‘hat. Make sure the edges are firmly pressed together. Once make, place each one on a tray covered with a cloth and sprinkled with semolina. Continue until all the ingredients are used.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over a gentle heat and add the sage leaves. Boil the cappellacci in plenty of salted water for a few minutes only. Drain and add them to the pan and continue to sauté for another minute – then gently scoop them into four bowls, dividing the buttery sauce between them. Add some freshly grated Parmesan and serve immediately