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Ligurian Pansotti with Walnut Pesto

Pansotti are a traditional overstuffed ravioli filled with a variety of sweet and spicy greens (at least three kinds), marjoram and ricotta cheese, and tossed with a walnut pesto. Chef Charles Draghi of Marcuccios in Boston has added scallops to the filling for texture and flavor, to bring out the sweetness of the walnuts and the greenness of the herbs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 oz. fresh sea scallops
  • 4 cups mixed greens, such as Swiss chard, spinach
      and arugula, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. fresh pasta sheets, rolled very thin
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 fresh basil sprigs, plus 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
      leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts, plus toasted shelled walnut
      halves for garnish
  • 2 Tbs. roasted garlic paste

Directions:

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the scallops, greens and marjoram and sauté, stirring, until the scallops are medium-rare, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate, 15 to 30 minutes.

When the scallops and the greens are cool, mince and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta, nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir until blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

With a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut the pasta sheets to make about 50 rounds. Fill the center of a round with 1 tsp. of the scallop mixture and brush the edges of the pasta lightly with water. Fold into a half moonshaped purse and press the open edge to seal. Repeat to make about 50 pansotti. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet, dust tops with flour and refrigerate until ready to cook.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the basil sprigs and stir until they are submerged and sizzling. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature. Remove and discard the basil sprigs.

In a blender or food processor, combine the walnuts, basil-flavored olive oil and roasted garilc paste and process into a smooth, creamy sauce.

Bring a large pot two-thirds full of salted water to a boil. Add the pansotti and cook until they float, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and transfer the pansotti to a large bowl. Add the walnut pesto and toss gently to coat. Divide the pansotti among 4 warmed individual bowls. Garnish with the walnut halves and basil. Serves 4.
Charles Draghi, Chef and Food Writer,