Candy-Striped Caramelle & Mezzalune

For the egg pasta dough...

400 grams (~3 cups) '00' flour

50 grams (~⅓ cup) semola flour

255 grams egg (about 4 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks)

For the beet pasta dough...

400 grams (~3 cups) '00' flour

50 grams (~⅓ cup) semola flour

150 grams red beets (~1 large or 2 medium beets)

2 whole eggs

Cut the stems off of the beets to just expose the interior and coat in salt and olive oil. Place cut-side down in a deep pan (for a small batch, a loaf tin works well) and add a small amount of water to the bottom. Cover with foil, prick a few holes in the top, and roast at 400°F until very tender and easily pierced with a knife, ~45 minutes - 1 hour. Cool slightly, remove the skins, and rough chop. Once completely cooled and all steam has evaporated, blend the beets with the eggs until very smooth. Incorporate 255 grams of that mixture (add a little water if needed) into the flour using your preferred dough method.

For the filling…

2 cups whole milk ricotta

½ cup goat cheese (optional)

1 lemon

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Line a plate or tray with paper towels. Drain any water off of the ricotta and transfer it to the plate, spreading it out slightly. Top with more paper towels to absorb any excess liquid (it should be as firm as possible). In a food processor, pulse the cheese(s) with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of high-quality olive oil until thick, smooth, and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pulse again. Transfer to a bowl or piping bag; refrigerate until ready to use.

Time to laminate...

Roll out a portion of each dough into a thin sheet, roughly the same length (setting 7 on my KitchenAid). Cut the beetroot dough into strips of desired width and gently place them on top of the egg dough at your preferred intervals (if the egg dough is dry, spray with a small amount of water). Press the strips lightly into the egg dough to make sure they're in place and trim the edges so no overhang remains. Lightly dust both sides of the sheet with flour and move the machine back to setting 4. Roll the sheet through, then repeat on 5 and 6 (any thinner and the seams may split when cooked).

To shape the caramelle...

Cut the laminated sheet into rectangles, slightly wider than they are tall; if desired, cut the left and right ends with a toothed cutter. Add a small amount of filling to the bottom center of each rectangle (less is more; too much filling and it'll leak out the sides!). Fold the bottom edge up and over the filling to about the mid-point, then fold it over again--like you would roll a candy--so the filling is fully encased. With your two pointer fingers, press down firmly on the sides of the filling to seal. At the point where the filling begins on each side, pinch the ends together to form the dimpled "tails" of the caramelle and fan them out to finish the candy-like look.

To shape the mezzalune...

Cut out circles of desired size and add enough filling to the center so that the pasta is well-filled but a solid rim of dough remains to prevent leakage. Fold the pasta in half around the filling and pinch at the top to seal, then firmly pinch each side closed while also making sure to press out any air pockets. If the dough is dry, use a bit of water to help seal the mezzalune closed.

Finishing touches…

Melt a few tablespoons of salted butter in a pan over medium heat, swirling occasionally to prevent the butter from separating. Begin cooking the pasta in well-salted water; when they're almost ready (note that the pinched ends will take a bit longer to cook), add a couple of spoonfuls of pasta water to the butter and swirl vigorously to emulsify. Transfer the pasta directly to the butter sauce and continue to move the pan to coat the pasta for about a minute. Serve immediately, topped with shaved pecorino and high-quality balsamic vinegar or a balsamic reduction, or with fresh mint and parmigiano. Enjoy!

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