Here it is a very interesting traditional recipe, typical of the mountain area of Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige regions (more specifically the so called Ladinia), more in particular this is the most common version in the Valle d’Ampezzo area. Because like all the traditional recipes, there are variants (in this case also completely different) changing from village to village.
It’s very interesting first of all because its filling is primarily made with beetroot, which is not really common between Italian filled pasta recipes, and it’s also not a very used ingredient through the country, mostly is used exactly in this part of Italy.
And it’s also interesting because there are poppy seeds, another ingredient that in Italy it’s not used much (while it’s very common in Austria or Hungary, where I am now).
As I said there are different recipes for the casunziei (known also with other local names as casonciei, casanzes, csanzöi, but not to confuse with the casoncelli, the typical filled pasta of Bergamo and Brescia provinces, which are completely different), there are with beetroot, with or without potatoes, with red turnip, in the Valle d’Ampezzo area there are some recipes made with the nowadays rare yellow turnip (called cuderao in the local dialect), with Parmigiano or without, with normal ricotta or with seasoned ricotta, with or without poppy seeds.
I’m gonna show what’s probably the most common recipe, and the poppy seeds add also a nice touch for the eye 🙂 since I’m in Hungary I substituted the ricotta with a local artisanal Orda, which is the local version of the ricotta.
Let’s see what we need.
INGREDIENTS (4 people):
For the pasta:
- 300 g flour (normally just wheat, but I used also a 30% of durum flour, I like it)
- 3 eggs
- some milk, if needed
For the filling:
- 500 g beetroot (already boiled and peeled)
- 100-150 g potato
- 100-125 g ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 30 g butter
- freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, at your taste
- breadcrumbs, what’s needed
- freshly ground black pepper
- some freshly ground nutmeg
For the sauce:
- 70 g butter
- fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds
- freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or some local aged mountain cheese, like Montasio or Piave, or smoked ricotta)
- First of all we start boiling the beetroots and the potato, in water and with their peel. Depending on the size beetroots will be ready in 30-45 minutes.
- During this time prepare the dough: sift the flour, add the 3 eggs (and some milk if needed) and work it hard until smooth and elastic. Then cover it with a plastic wrap and let it rest about 30 minutes.
- When the vegetables are boiled peel them, then take a grater and reduce the beetroots into smaller pieces, like in the photo. Then squeeze the potato in a potato ricer.
- Take a large pan, heat 30 g of butter and then add the beetroots with the potato. Cook until the beetroots get dry (keep it stirred regularly). 5-10 minutes should be enough. Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Let it cool down.
- Put the beetroots in a bowl and add the ricotta, the 2 eggs, the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and the breadcrumbs until you obtain a good texture, like in the photos.
- Now roll out half of the pasta on a floured surface. Usually for this pasta you should do it until it is thin enough to see your hand through (in this way you’ll see the red filling from outside), but I prefer to feel the bite a bit more so I used the manual pasta machine at the second thinnest option. Then cut out discs of about 5-6 cm large. Add the beetroot filling in the middle, close them into a half moon shape and seal the edges by using a fork. Place the casunziei over floured trays.
- When you finished to prepare the casunziei you can start to boil water in a high pot, and take a large pan where you have to melt the butter with sage leaves.
- When the water is boiling, add salt and then drop the casunziei inside. They will be ready in few minutes.
- Drain them and add to the pan. Mix well.
- Serve, sprinkle some poppy seeds and grated cheese at your taste. Enjoy! 🙂
And if it remains some of the filling, keep it in the fridge and the day after you can make for example this very good use of the “leftovers” 🙂 I partially boiled some Paccheri (or you can use some other big pasta types), then I filled them with the beetroot filling, covered with Bechamel sauce (also on the bottom) and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Bake it for about 15 minutes at 200 °C, until crunchy on the top 🙂