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Filled Pasta Sheets

In this recipe from Chef Thomas Keller, sheets of fresh pasta are filled with a savory mixture of ground lamb, sautéed spinach and leeks, and pecorino romano cheese, then steamed until tender. Serve them alongside Chef Keller’s Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb (see related recipe at left).

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus 2 Tbs. melted butter for brushing
  • 12 oz. baby spinach
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 leeks, white and light green portions, rinsed well and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 lb. ground lamb
  • 1/2 tsp. espelette pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
  • 2 Tbs. dried currants
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 10 oz. fresh pasta sheets, store-bought or homemade (see related recipe at left)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a strainer set over a bowl and press on the spinach with the back of a spoon to remove the excess liquid. Let the spinach cool slightly, then transfer to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat and melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ground lamb and espelette pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are very soft and the lamb is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the flour and stir until combined. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture looks pasty, about 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts, currants and milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese. Add the egg yolks and mix until well incorporated. Let stand until the filling is just warm.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the pasta sheets into 8 rectangles, each 3 inches wide and 8 inches long, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Divide the filling evenly among the rectangles, using about 1/2 cup filling for each one. Spread the filling evenly onto each rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the long sides and a 1-inch border on one of the short ends. Working from the other short end, gently roll up each pasta rectangle, allowing the side with the border to form the bottom seam.

Fill the base of a 5-quart 2-tier steamer with 2 inches of water, cover with the lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Brush the steamer inserts with some of the melted butter. Place 4 filled pasta sheets in each insert, taking care not to let them touch. Stack the inserts onto the base and cover the top insert with the lid. Steam until the pasta is tender, about 12 minutes, rotating the position of the inserts halfway through to ensure even cooking.

Gently transfer the filled pasta sheets to individual plates. Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Recipe by Chef Thomas Keller, The French Laundry.