I’m not usually one to go all-in for Valentine’s Day, but right now I’m savoring every chance I get to celebrate with loved ones. This dish is not only beautiful to look at, but it’s also a perfect project to share with those you care about most—both in the joy of eating it and the fun of making it. And although it might feel like springtime is a little too far away, the combination of fresh herbs, creamy cheeses, and bright Meyer lemon will instantly transport you to warmer climes.
A few notes:
Don’t like beets? No problem. The beets are just for color, and don’t impart much (if any) flavor.
Can't find Meyer lemons? Regular lemons will work great, too.
New to filled pasta? The plate will pop no matter the shape, so don’t hesitate to opt for something simpler like mezzelune (half-moons), triangoli, or ravioli.
Want to prep ahead? The beet purée can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days (or the freezer longer term); the filling can be made up to 2 days ahead; and the cappelletti can be assembled and frozen so they’re ready to cook when the time is right. —Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
- Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 2 to 4
- For the beet purée & the pasta dough
large or 2 medium red beets
(1 tablespoon) extra-virgin olive oil
(2 cups) ‘00’ flour or all-purpose flour
(¼ cup) semolina flour (optional; if unavailable, substitute with ‘00’ or all-purpose)
eggs (about 2 eggs)
(⅓ cup) beet purée
- For the filling & for finishing
(about 3 cups, or 1 large bunch) flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
(about ½ cup, or 1 large handful) fresh mint, leaves only
(1 cup) whole milk ricotta
(¼ cup) mild goat cheese (optional)
(¼ cup) finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 to 2
Meyer lemons (see Author Notes)
grams (2 tablespoons) pine nuts
(½ cup) butter
fresh mint leaves and finely grated Pecorino, for garnish (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
Roast the beets
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the stems and roots off of the beet(s) and coat in olive oil. Place the beet(s) cut-side down in a deep baking dish—a loaf tin works well—and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by ¼ inch.
Cover with foil, prick a few holes in the top, and roast until the beets are very tender (a little overcooked is perfect!) and easily pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check the beet(s) halfway through; if the bottom of the baking dish looks very dry, add a bit more water. While the beets roast, make the filling.
Make the filling
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the parsley and mint, and cook briefly until wilted and vibrant in color, about 20 seconds. Drain immediately and run the greens under cold water to stop the cooking.
When the greens are cool, wring out as much water as possible and pat dry. Then roughly chop.
Add the cheeses and greens to a food processor, as well as some finely grated zest from one of the Meyer lemons. Pulse to combine, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice. Pulse again until thick and creamy.
Transfer the filling to a bowl or piping bag and refrigerate until ready to use. The filling can be made up to two days in advance and kept in an air-tight container.
Make the pasta dough
When the beets are still warm but cool enough to handle, remove the skins with a paper towel—they should peel off easily—then roughly chop.
Transfer the beets to a blender and purée until very smooth. (If needed, add just enough water so the blender will run smoothly.) Set aside 70 grams (⅓ cup) of the purée. Any leftovers can be frozen in an air-tight container and defrosted for future use.
Make the pasta dough by hand according to the “well” method (see my master pasta dough tutorial that teaches you how: https://food52.com/recipes/83340-semolina-pasta-dough-recipe).
Alternatively, add the flour(s), eggs, and beet purée to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the liquids are evenly distributed and beads of dough form. The mixture should come together easily when pressed. If it’s a little dry, add a teaspoon or two more purée.
Transfer the dough to a flat, ideally wooden surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and firm.
Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (or up to an hour or two).
Shape the cappelletti
Line a baking sheet with semolina flour, cornmeal, or a dry dish towel and keep it nearby. Cut off a quarter of the dough and re-wrap the remainder immediately.
If you have a pasta machine: Flatten the dough with the heel of your hand until it’s about ¼-inch thick. Set your pasta machine to its thickest setting and roll the dough through once—it will be tapered at the ends. Fold the ends into the center like an envelope so the width of the pasta sheet is similar in width to the pasta roller. Line up the widths and roll the dough through the thickest setting once more so the result is an even rectangle.
Continue rolling the pasta sheet through the machine once on each progressive setting until you can see your hand through it but it’s still sturdy (a bit like leather), about setting 7 on a Marcato Atlas 150 manual roller or KitchenAid attachment. If the dough is at all sticky going through the machine, dust it with a light layer of ‘00’ or all-purpose flour on both sides.
If you're rolling by hand: Roll the portion of dough with a rolling pin into as thin a sheet as possible—it’s a workout! While you’re aiming for about a millimeter thick, don’t stress and do the best you can.
Once you have a long, thin sheet of pasta, lay it on a wooden surface and trim the ends of any uneven areas, then ball up the scraps and wrap them in plastic to rehydrate. If you don’t have a wooden surface, dust a little flour on the bottom of the pasta sheet and your countertop to prevent sticking.
Using a 2½-inch cookie cutter or sturdy glass, cut as many circles as you can out of the pasta sheet. Ball up the scraps and add them to your wrapped pile.
Spoon or pipe about a teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle, leaving a generous rim of dough around it. If the dough is dry, add a small amount of water with your finger to the edges of the circles.
Fold each circle into a half-moon, meeting opposite curves first and then gently pressing out any air around the filling on each side. Once the filling is encased, go back over the edges with your fingers and press firmly to seal.
Position the half-moon so the curved edge is facing downward. Then make a generous indentation in the center of the filling pocket with your finger (it’ll look like a smile).
Bring the two points of the half-moon around in a circular motion toward the top, overlap them slightly, and pinch firmly to seal (see process images above). You should have a little gap in the center and the cappelletti should stand up on their own.
Place each finished piece on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
Note: To store the cappelletti for future use, freeze them on the baking sheet until mostly solid, about 25 minutes. Then transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag—they’ll last for up to a couple of months. When you’re ready to cook them, boil straight from frozen.
Finish the dish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Peel 2 or 3 long strips of zest from one of the Meyer lemons using a vegetable peeler (make sure to avoid as much of the bitter white pith as you can). Then thinly slice each strip lengthwise into thin strands.
Add the pine nuts to a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until they’re golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes—keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn!
Add half of the thinly sliced lemon zest to the skillet and stir constantly for about 30 seconds. Then add the butter and stir until melted. If you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt, too. Remove from the heat.
Salt the pasta water well, then add the cappelletti, making sure to dust off any semolina flour or cornmeal. Stir the pasta briefly so it doesn’t stick.
Cook the cappelletti until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes, tasting for doneness. Some color will seep out during the boiling process, but they’ll still be very vibrant after the short cook time. (The longer the pasta cooks, the more the color will fade.)
While the cappelletti cook, return the butter to medium heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cappelletti to the butter and toss gently to coat. Keeping the pan moving, cook the pasta in the butter for a minute to meld the flavors.
Divide the pasta among plates. Drizzle with more of the butter sauce and top with the pine nuts, fresh mint leaves, a bit more of the thinly sliced lemon zest, and Pecorino cheese, if desired.