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"Step-by-Step Guide to Making Homemade Agnolotti from Scratch"

Agnolotti may appear daunting to craft from scratch, but with the right guidance and some practice, you can create these delectable stuffed pasta pillows at home. This article walks you through the steps of making butternut squash and goat cheese agnolotti, from preparing the dough and filling to shaping, cooking, and serving them with a simple yet sumptuous sauce.

Key Takeaways

  • Agnolotti is a type of stuffed pasta that's quicker to make than ravioli, with a unique shape that's excellent for sauce retention.

  • Practice is key to perfecting the shaping of agnolotti, which involves pinching, flicking, and trimming the dough into sealed pieces.

  • The filling should be flavorful and well-sealed within the pasta to prevent leaking during the cooking process.

  • Cook agnolotti in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes and transfer them directly to a skillet with a pan sauce for finishing.

  • Serve the agnolotti in a butter and parmesan sauce, topped with crispy pancetta for added texture and flavor.

Understanding Agnolotti

What is Agnolotti?

Agnolotti is a beloved variety of Italian stuffed pasta, traditionally crafted into small, pillow-like shapes that are perfect for cradling sumptuous fillings. Each piece of agnolotti is a testament to the art of pasta making, with its delicate folds and unique shape designed to hold a rich combination of ingredients.

The process of making agnolotti involves a single sheet of pasta dough that is folded over the chosen filling, which can range from savory meats to a blend of cheeses and vegetables. Unlike ravioli, which are formed by sandwiching the filling between two layers of pasta, agnolotti's singular pasta layer is folded, creating a distinctive pocket that enhances the dining experience.

Agnolotti's versatility in size and filling makes it a favorite among pasta enthusiasts. From the tiny 'agnolotti de plin' to larger variations, each bite offers a burst of flavor, encased in a semicircular pasta shell that is both satisfying and elegant.

The Unique Shape and Texture

Agnolotti's distinctive shape and texture are not just for aesthetics; they play a crucial role in the pasta's culinary performance. The ridges and folds of agnolotti are designed to trap and hold sauces, enhancing the flavor experience with each bite. Unlike smoother pasta shapes that may allow sauce to slide off, agnolotti's textured surface ensures a perfect sauce-to-pasta ratio.

The dough's thickness is also pivotal in achieving the ideal texture. It must be rolled thin enough to allow for a delicate bite but sturdy enough to contain the filling without breaking. This balance is what gives agnolotti its signature tender yet firm bite that pasta enthusiasts cherish.

Crafting agnolotti requires attention to detail and a gentle hand to maintain its unique shape during filling and sealing. The end result is a pasta that not only tastes delightful but also provides a satisfying tactile experience.

Comparing Agnolotti to Other Stuffed Pasta

Agnolotti's unique identity among stuffed pastas is often overshadowed by its more famous cousins like ravioli and tortellini. Agnolotti is crafted from a single sheet of pasta, folded over the filling, unlike ravioli which uses two sheets. This not only affects the texture but also the way agnolotti embraces sauces.

When it comes to size, agnolotti can vary, with 'agnolotti de plin' being a smaller version, where 'plin' signifies a 'pinch' in Italian, indicating their delicate size. The filling, typically a mix of meats or vegetables, is similar across different types of stuffed pasta, but the shape is what sets them apart. For instance, tortelloni are known to be a "more generous" version of their counterparts.

The art of making agnolotti involves a careful balance of pasta to filling, ensuring each bite is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

Understanding these subtle differences can enhance the appreciation for agnolotti and its place in the rich tapestry of Italian cuisine.

Preparing the Pasta Dough

Ingredient Notes for Pasta Dough

The foundation of any great agnolotti begins with the perfect pasta dough. For a classic egg pasta dough, you'll need simple, quality ingredients. Here's what you'll need:

  • All-purpose flour: 453 grams (1 pound), though 00 pasta flour is also an option.

  • Eggs: 4 large eggs plus 1 additional yolk ensure the dough has the right consistency.

  • Olive oil: 53 grams to enrich the dough.

  • Water: 1-2 tablespoons, but only if necessary to achieve the desired dough texture.

  • Salt: A pinch of kosher salt for flavor.

It's important to use large eggs as they provide the correct ratio of fat and liquid. If the eggs are too small, the dough may become too sticky or dry. While some recipes, like Chef Anne Burrell's from Cook Like A Rock Star, suggest kneading by hand, using a stand mixer with a dough hook can save effort and reduce strain.

When mixing your ingredients, start with the flour and eggs, and gradually incorporate the olive oil and water as needed. The goal is a smooth, pliable dough that's not too wet or dry.

Mixing and Kneading the Dough

After combining the flour and salt in the stand mixer and creating a well for the eggs, yolk, and olive oil, the initial mixing begins with a fork, gradually bringing in flour from the edges to form a thick, wet mixture. Attach the dough hook and mix on low, ensuring all flour is incorporated into the dough. As the dough forms a shaggy mass, increase the speed to medium-low and knead until smooth, which should take about 6-8 minutes.

The dough will be quite stiff at this stage, but resist the temptation to add extra water. Instead, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for an additional 30 seconds to form a cohesive ball.

Once the dough has been kneaded sufficiently, it's crucial to let it rest. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This resting period is essential for the gluten to relax, making the dough more pliable and easier to roll out into thin sheets for your agnolotti.

Here's a quick checklist for the kneading process:

  • Combine ingredients in a stand mixer.

  • Mix with a dough hook until shaggy mass forms.

  • Knead on medium-low until smooth (6-8 minutes).

  • Hand knead on a floured surface to form a ball.

  • Let rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.

Rolling and Cutting the Dough

Once your pasta dough has been mixed and kneaded to a smooth consistency, it's time to roll it out. Begin by dividing the dough into manageable pieces. Flour your surface generously and roll the first piece into a thin sheet, aiming for a 20"x16" rectangle. The dough should be thin but still robust enough to handle without tearing. If the dough resists rolling, let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten, then continue.

After achieving the desired thickness, usually a 6 or 7 on a pasta roller, it's time to cut the dough. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough into the classic agnolotti shape. Remember to dust with flour as needed to prevent sticking and to support the pasta with the backs of your hands as it gets thinner.

Once the dough is rolled and cut, you're ready to move on to the fun part: filling your agnolotti. Ensure the filling is prepared and within reach, as you'll want to work quickly to prevent the dough from drying out.

Crafting the Filling

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Ingredients

The foundation of a memorable agnolotti is its filling. For a rich and autumnal option, butternut squash and goat cheese make an excellent pairing. The sweetness of the squash complements the tangy creaminess of the goat cheese, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

The key to a perfect filling is ensuring that the butternut squash is roasted until tender and that the goat cheese is of good quality, enhancing the overall taste of the agnolotti.

Here's what you'll need for the filling:

  • 2 pounds butternut squash (peeled, scooped, and cut into 1" cubes)

  • 113 grams goat cheese (4 oz)

  • 28 grams parmesan cheese (1 ounce)

  • 1 teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt

Once you have your ingredients prepared, the process is simple. Roast the butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper until it's soft and caramelized. Then, blend it with the goat cheese and other ingredients until you achieve a smooth, creamy, yet firm consistency that will hold its shape when piped into the pasta.

Creating a Flavorful Filling

To achieve a rich and cohesive flavor in your agnolotti filling, it's essential to blend your ingredients thoroughly. Process the mixture until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistency, making sure to scrape down the bowl occasionally to incorporate all elements evenly.

After blending, allow the filling to cool. This step is crucial as it helps the flavors meld together and ensures the filling is easy to handle when assembling the pasta. The filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to three months, providing flexibility for your pasta-making schedule.

When considering the quantity of filling, remember that variables such as the thickness of your rolled dough and the efficiency of your cuts can impact how much you'll need. Aim for a balance to avoid a sparse or overflowing agnolotti.

As you prepare to fill your pasta, envision the butternut squash mixture as the 'spine of a folded book'. This imagery will guide you in creating the perfect pockets of filling, ensuring each agnolotti is plump and evenly stuffed.

Filling and Sealing the Agnolotti

After preparing your flavorful butternut squash and goat cheese filling, it's time to encase it within the delicate pasta dough. Ensure each agnolotti is sealed tightly to prevent the filling from leaking out during cooking. Pinch the edges firmly, creating a secure envelope around the savory center.

Begin by pinching and cutting the dough to form individual agnolotti. Press down on the ends to seal the tube, then pinch along the length to segment the filling. Each pocket should be about one inch long. After shaping, trim any excess dough and set it aside for the next batch.

Arrange the finished agnolotti on a flour-dusted sheet pan. Here's a simple guide to ensure consistency:

  • Pinch the ends of the dough tube to seal.

  • Segment the filling by pinching at one-inch intervals.

  • Roll each agnolotti forward to reinforce the shape.

  • Trim the dough and save the excess for later use.

As you work, place the agnolotti on a sheet pan to begin drying. With practice, the process will become a rhythmic dance of pinching, rolling, and trimming, transforming you into a veritable pasta artisan.

Shaping and Cooking Agnolotti

Step-by-Step Shaping Guide

Shaping agnolotti is an art that improves with practice. Begin by dividing your pasta dough into four to six pieces, keeping the unused portions wrapped to prevent drying. With one section at a time, lay a sheet of dough flat and prepare to add the filling.

  • Prep your filling in a piping bag, ensuring there are no air bubbles. Snip the end when ready.

  • Place small scoops of filling onto the dough, spaced about an inch apart.

  • Gently lay another sheet of dough on top, stretching it if necessary to cover the filling.

  • Press around each scoop to seal the dough, then cut into individual pieces with a pizza cutter.

  • Use a fork to crimp the edges, ensuring each agnolotti is sealed.

Once you've mastered the basics, you can move more swiftly, rolling the pasta cutter away from you to seal and shape the agnolotti into their characteristic pillows. The key is to seal them tightly to prevent any filling from escaping during cooking.

Boiling to Perfection

Once your agnolotti are meticulously filled and sealed, it's time to cook them to perfection. Start by bringing a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil. This ensures that your pasta has enough room to move freely, preventing them from sticking together or to the bottom of the pot.

Gently place the agnolotti into the water and reduce the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. This gentle handling is crucial to avoid breaking the delicate pasta. Stir the agnolotti occasionally to ensure even cooking and to keep them from clumping.

The cooking time is essential; agnolotti should be boiled for 4-6 minutes, depending on their size and the thickness of the dough. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the pasta from the water, ensuring each piece remains intact for a beautiful presentation on the plate.

Transferring to Pan Sauce

Once your agnolotti are boiled to al dente perfection, it's time to give them a final flavor boost by transferring them to a pan sauce. Gently stir the agnolotti over medium-low heat to ensure they are evenly coated with the sauce. This step is crucial for achieving that restaurant-quality glaze and melding the flavors together.

The key to a perfect pan sauce is balance. Add the grated parmesan cheese and stir until it melts into a creamy consistency. If needed, a splash of pasta water can be introduced to adjust the sauce's thickness.

Finish by incorporating fresh herbs like parsley for a burst of color and flavor. Serve the agnolotti immediately, topped with additional parmesan and, if desired, a sprinkle of crispy prosciutto for a delightful contrast in textures.

Serving Your Agnolotti

Simple Butter and Parmesan Sauce

After crafting your Homemade Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Agnolotti, the perfect accompaniment is a simple yet elegant butter and parmesan sauce. This sauce enhances the delicate flavors of the agnolotti without overpowering them.

To create this sauce, start by melting unsalted butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Once melted, add freshly grated parmesan cheese and stir gently. The key to a smooth sauce is to stir continuously as the cheese melts, preventing any clumps. If necessary, a splash of reserved pasta water can be added to achieve the desired consistency.

The sauce should coat the agnolotti lightly, creating a harmonious balance with the filling.

Once the sauce reaches a silky texture, incorporate the agnolotti into the skillet, ensuring each piece is evenly coated. For a final touch, sprinkle with additional parmesan and minced fresh parsley. Serve immediately to savor the full symphony of flavors.

Adding Crispy Pancetta for Texture

The addition of crispy pancetta elevates the texture and flavor profile of your agnolotti. Cook the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium heat until it reaches a bright red color and a crispy texture, flipping as necessary. Once done, transfer it to a paper towel to drain any excess fat.

The contrast between the soft, pillowy agnolotti and the crunchy pancetta creates a delightful sensory experience that is both satisfying and gourmet.

To ensure even cooking and perfect crispiness, follow these simple steps:

  • Preheat your skillet before adding the pancetta.

  • Lay the pancetta flat and avoid overcrowding the pan.

  • Cook in batches if necessary to maintain the quality of crispiness.

Incorporating pancetta not only adds a savory crunch but also infuses the dish with a rich, meaty flavor that complements the butternut squash and goat cheese filling. It's a simple yet impactful way to add depth to your agnolotti.

Presentation and Pairing Suggestions

The final flourish to your agnolotti comes with thoughtful presentation and pairing. A well-set table enhances the dining experience, creating an inviting atmosphere for your guests. Consider the following suggestions to elevate your agnolotti service:

  • Use simple, elegant dishware that complements the shape and color of the agnolotti.

  • Pair with a wine that complements the filling; for instance, a light Chardonnay pairs well with cheese agnolotti, while a Pinot Grigio is excellent with seafood variants.

  • Garnish with fresh herbs or edible flowers for a touch of color and freshness.

When it comes to beverages, the right choice can accentuate the flavors of your dish. A crisp white wine or a light-bodied red can bring out the subtleties of the pasta's filling and sauce.

Remember, the goal is to create a harmonious dining experience that delights all the senses. From the visual appeal of the dish to the taste and aroma of the paired wine, every element should work together seamlessly.


Mastering the art of making agnolotti may seem daunting at first, but with patience and practice, it becomes a rewarding culinary adventure. Remember to seal each agnolotti tightly to prevent the filling from leaking and to cook them gently to preserve their delicate shape. Whether you choose to serve them with a simple butter and parmesan sauce or get creative with your own variations, the end result is a delicious testament to your efforts. Embrace the process, have fun with it, and soon you'll be making these delightful pasta pillows with the finesse of a 'pasta granny'. Bon appétit!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Agnolotti?

Agnolotti is a type of stuffed pasta, traditionally folded and cut into little pillow-shaped squares or rectangles. It can have various shapes with edges that are pinched together, and it's known for having a little flap of dough that is excellent for picking up sauces.

How do I ensure the Agnolotti filling doesn't leak out?

After cutting the agnolotti, give each one a quick check to make sure everything is sealed tightly. Pinch the cut edges and the little flap to ensure they are sealed in place. Place them on a flour-dusted sheet pan to dry while you continue making the rest.

How long should I cook the Agnolotti?

Cook the agnolotti in a large pot of generously salted boiling water for about 3-4 minutes, or until they start to float. Test one for doneness by cutting or biting in half, but be cautious as it will be hot.

What's the best way to serve Agnolotti?

Serve the agnolotti gently in a simple sauce of butter and parmesan cheese, and for added texture and flavor, sprinkle with crispy pancetta. The simplicity of the sauce complements the rich filling of the pasta.

Can I use the Agnolotti dough and filling for other pasta types?

Yes, the same dough and filling for agnolotti can be used to make ravioli or other stuffed pasta shapes. Agnolotti may be faster to make and result in a larger quantity with less waste.

Is it difficult to shape Agnolotti?

Shaping agnolotti may seem challenging at first, but it gets easier with practice. If it's your first time, remember that it's okay if they look a little wonky, and focus on having fun with the process.

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