Asparagus & ricotta agnolotti in brown butter

Asparagus & ricotta agnolotti in brown butter

Asparagus & ricotta agnolotti in brown butter, The Pasta Man: The Art of Making Spectacular Pasta – with 40 Recipes by Mateo Zielonka. Photography by India Hobson.

he Pasta Man: The Art of Making Spectacular Pasta – with 40 RecipesThe Pasta Man, Mateo Zielonka, makes the most spectacular, original pasta you’ve ever seen. Striped, spotted, red, purple, green and black, and every shape imaginable, Mateo’s pasta is prettier than a picture.

Now in The Pasta Man, Mateo reveals for the first time how you too can make his incredible creations. With “how to” sections guiding you through every shape and effect, from spots and stripes (using all-natural colouring), lasagne sheets and pappardelle, ravioli pillows, tortellini and other spectacular filled pastas, he then offers 40 delicious recipes with which to hone your new skills. Illustrated with beautiful photography and clear step-by-step instructions, let yourself be guided by a master and make your own pasta a work of art.

The Pasta Man: The Art of Making Spectacular Pasta – with 40 Recipes is available at and

Asparagus & ricotta agnolotti in brown butter

The first asparagus of spring is always so welcome, and I like to eat as much as possible before the short season is over. It’s best to buy it from a greengrocer’s or local farmers’ market if you can or keep an eye out for a roadside stall if you’re lucky enough to live in asparagus country. Mixed with delicate ricotta, the two ingredients really complement one another, while the brown butter brings a nutty flavour to the dish.

400g/14oz classic or rich egg dough (see below)
200g/7oz asparagus, ends trimmed, and stalks peeled
250g/9oz ricotta
50g/2oz Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
45ml/3 tablespoons olive oil
zest of 2 lemons
1 large or 2 small sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped 1 teaspoon salt 60g/21⁄4oz butter

Serves 4

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add salt and blanch the asparagus for 1½–2 minutes, then transfer immediately to a bowl of iced water to help retain its colour. Remove from the water and dry the stems as much as you can.

Cut the tips off the stems and slice them finely lengthways, then set aside.

Roughly chop the remaining asparagus stalks and add to the bowl of a food processor with the ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon zest and rosemary. Season with the salt and a grinding of black pepper. Blend everything together for 1 minute, then transfer to a small bowl and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you don’t have a food processor, simply chop the asparagus finely and combine it with the other ingredients by hand.

Roll, fill and shape your agnolotti following the instructions on page 140.

Place a small saucepan on a medium heat and add the butter. Swirl the pan from time to time to make sure the butter is cooking evenly. Cook until the butter browns and you smell its lovely, nutty flavour, then take off the heat and strain into a large saucepan (this is to avoid any dark brown bits spoiling the texture of the sauce).

Bring a large pan of water to the boil before adding salt, and cook the agnolotti, a few at a time, for 1½–2 minutes.

Add a small ladleful of the pasta cooking water to the brown butter and put it back on a medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the pasta to the sauce and gently combine. Loosen the sauce with more pasta cooking water if necessary, then add the sliced asparagus tips for a final few seconds to warm them through. Serve straight away, scattering more Parmesan on top.


Classic egg dough

This is the classic pasta recipe followed by generations of Italian families, using whole eggs and Italian 00 flour, and it is the best place to start learning how to make fresh pasta. You will end up with a soft yellow dough, ready to shape into ribbons or little parcels. If, when you are kneading the dough, it feels quite stiff and difficult to work, don’t give up. It will become more elastic the more you work it, the structure will improve, and it will soften further in the fridge as the moisture of the egg loosens the dough.

300g/2-1⁄3 cups Italian 00 flour
3 eggs

Makes 400g/14oz, enough to serve 4

Place the flour on a clean work surface or board and shape it into a mound. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into the middle.

Using a fork, break the egg yolks and start to gently whisk them. Draw in the flour a little at a time and continue to combine with the fork.

When everything starts to come together, use your hands to knead the dough for 8–10 minutes until smooth. Use the heel of one hand to push the dough away from you, and use your other hand to turn it 90 degrees after each knead – you will soon develop a lovely rhythm.

When the dough is smooth, form it into a flat disc (this will be much easier to roll out later). Wrap it tightly in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or ideally overnight. Resting makes the structure of the dough smoother and more pliable, so it’s much easier to roll out and shape.

Using a food processor

You can also make pasta dough in a food processor—it’s really quick and easy, though I actually prefer to make it by hand, especially at home. (I like listening to music and kneading to the rhythm of some 80s classics!)

Place the flour in the processor bowl and secure the lid. Start the machine, then pour the eggs into the funnel.

Mix for 30 seconds, until the dough has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.

Tip onto a board or into a bowl and use your hands to bring the mixture together to form a neat disc. Wrap the dough tightly in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and refrigerate, as above.

Rich egg dough

If you want a rich yellow pasta, use more egg yolks. If you’re lucky enough to find eggs that have extra-rich yolks, this will help create a vibrant, sunny colour that looks really appealing. My kind of gold. The additional yolks make the dough more pliable when you are kneading it, and slightly drier when you come to roll it out. Don’t waste the egg whites – use them to make meringue, pavlova or to add to scrambled eggs.

280g/2¼ cups Italian 00 flour
2 eggs, plus 4 egg yolks

Makes 400g/14oz, enough to serve 4

Follow steps 1–4 of the classic egg dough recipe, opposite, adding the extra yolks with the eggs. You can make this by hand or using a food processor.

Recipe reprinted with permission from  Hardie Grant Books.

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