1 pound brussels sprouts
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1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 large egg
½ cup whole-milk ricotta
¼ cup grated pecorino-Romano cheese
Semolina flour, for the work surface
1 recipe (18 ounces) Basic Pasta Dough (see related recipe)
¾ cup brown butter (see note)
2 large artichoke bottoms, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices (optional; see NOTES)
8 medium sage leaves
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (see note)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the agnolotti: Trim ¼ inch from the stem end of the brussels sprouts. Pull off and reserve 5 or 6 outer leaves from each sprout (enough to total 2 cups, packed). Cut the sprouts in half lengthwise and place them in an ovenproof dish with the oil, salt and pepper, stirring to coat. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 10 minutes, until the sprouts are soft and nicely browned. Allow them to cool.
Transfer the sprouts to the bowl of a food processor along with the garlic and egg. Puree until smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the puree to a medium bowl and stir in the cheeses. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Have ready a small bowl of water and a rimmed baking sheet liberally sprinkled with semolina. Working with ¼ of the pasta dough at a time, use the pasta machine to roll the dough into a sheet, preferably to setting 2. You should end up with a dough sheet about 22 inches long and 5 inches wide. Generously sprinkle semolina over the work surface beneath the pasta sheet so the dough doesn't stick.
Imagine the pasta sheet divided in half all the way down its length (into two sections 22 inches long and 2½ inches wide). Place generous teaspoons of the filling (about the size of a grape) along the length of the pasta on one side of the dividing line, spacing them about 1½ inches apart. Use your fingertips or a pastry brush to moisten the pasta with water along the edge of the sheet next to the filling and in the spaces between the balls of filling. Fold the empty half of the sheet over the filling so that the top edge just about meets the bottom edge. Gently press with your fingertips in between and all around each ball of filling, making sure there are no air pockets around the filling.
Use a crimped pasta wheel to cut around each ball of filling to make a half-moon shape, with the folded edge forming the straight part of the half-moon. Use your fingers to crimp together the rounded edge of each piece, then press the tines of a fork around that edge to seal it. Place the finished agnolotti on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat to use all of the dough and filling.
To prepare the artichokes: Fill a medium bowl with cool water and the juice of half a lemon. Remove the stems from the artichokes. Use a bread knife to slice through the leaves 1 inch from the bottom of the artichoke and discard them. Dip the bottom in the lemon water. Use a sharp paring knife to cut around the base of the artichoke to remove the leaves. Remove any greenish parts from the artichoke and any tough outer skin until you see only the white flesh of the bottom. Use the tip of the knife to cut the cone of fuzzy choke from the center; discard it. Plunge the bottoms in the lemon water throughout the process to keep them from turning brown. Cut the bottoms into ½-inch-thick slices and return them to the water.
Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Drain the artichoke slices, add them to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain the slices in a colander and rinse them with cool water.
To make brown butter: Place 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) of unsalted butter in a large microwave-safe glass bowl, cover it with film wrap and cook on HIGH for 5 to 7 minutes, until the butter is dark brown and you can see specks of toasted milk solids throughout. The bowl will be quite hot; remove it carefully from the oven and allow it to cool. The yield is about ¾ cup.
To cook agnolotti: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add plenty of salt. (The water should taste like the sea.) Add the agnolotti and cook for 7-9 minutes, until they are tender but their edges are still slightly al dente.
A few minutes before the pasta is ready, combine the brown butter, artichoke slices, reserved brussels sprout leaves, pepper, sage and pine nuts in a large skillet. Season with salt to taste. Heat over medium heat for 2 minutes, until the sprout leaves begin to wilt.
Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Turn off the heat and stir the agnolotti to coat them evenly. Serve immediately, garnished with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Cook's note:Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for several minutes, stirring often, until they are lightly browned and fragrant.
Use good-quality whole-milk ricotta, preferably straight from the producer. Pecans or hazelnuts can be a nice substitute for the pine nuts. These agnolotti are also delicious served in a simple tomato sauce. The agnolotti can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. The brown butter can be made 2 days in advance.
From David Hagedorn, inspired by a recipe for carrot ravioli from "The Glorious Pasta of Italy" by Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, 2011)