This pasta with courgettes and courgette flowers in a spinach basket was one of the dishes of the year: we made it for the two of us (Angie and Nico) but also for a table of friends, and every time it was a resounding success. The recipe comes from La Cucina Italiana Magazine (May 2011) that I read on the train returning from my trips to Bologna.
A spring dish then, quite elaborate (you will have to carve out some time to do it, or take advantage of the baskets of spinach the day before), with delicate notes of courgettes, courgette flowers and lemon. It’s very beautiful to present and it’s one of those dishes, as our friend Monica (restaurateur’s daughter, editor’s note) says, that leaves your mouth clean.

Here is the “how to do” for tagliolini with courgettes and flowers in a spinach basket.

Ingredients for 8 people:

  • 500 g egg tagliolini
  • 00 g of courgettes (the Roman ones)
  • 8 sticks of scamorza cheese(250 gr)
  • 200 g flour
  • 80 g Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 8 courgette flowers
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 lemon
  • parsley to taste
  • butter, oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste.

For the spinach baskets

  • 100 g spinach
  • 350 ml of milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 cereal bowls of the same shape and size to shape the baskets
  • butter, oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste.

Let’s start with the spinach baskets (you can make in advance and store in a cool, dry place)

Take the spinach and blanch it for 2 minutes. Let them drain and put them in the blender with the milk until you get a nice green and smooth mixture. Pour everything into a bowl and add the eggs and flour and mix everything with the whisk and you will obtain a creamy mixture.

At this point, heat a fairly large pan (or use a crepe iron) with a small piece of butter and pour in a little of the mixture to obtain a soft and elastic crepe. Don’t make it too thin, it must have its own consistency to then serve as a “basket”.

At this point, hang a cereal bowl, place it upside down and place the crepe on the bottom. Cover it with another bowl of similar size and cut the edges with scissors (the same procedure as when cutting children’s hair with “the bowl”). Bake the double bowls at 180°C for 5 minutes, then remove the top bowl and bake for another 5 minutes. At this point the crepes will have formed and will be solid and crunchy enough to stand up on their own (if they aren’t, leave them in the oven a little longer). Here are the baskets for your guests.

Pasta and seasoning

Finely chop the parsley, shallot and lemon peel and set aside.

Wash and clean the courgettes, grate them coarsely with a grater and brown them for 5-8 minutes (they will remain a little raw) in a large pan in which you had previously browned the shallots. Salt, pepper, add nutmeg if you like, and add the chopped parsley.

Clean the courgette flowers, remove the internal stem, and insert a stick of smoked cheese inside each of them. Brown them in butter until they become soft and keep them warm.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork with 50 g of lemon juice, the grated lemon zest, the parmesan, 60 g of water, salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

Boil the tagliolini in plenty of salted water and keep them AL DENTE (reserve a little of the cooking water), drain them in the pan with the courgettes and sauté them for less than 1 minute. Pour the sauce with the egg yolks and lemon and season everything, mixing well.

Roll the seasoned tagliolini into a nest, using a broth ladle, and arrange on the basket of spinach. Decorate with a sprig of parsley and a stuffed courgette flower each.

A truly delicious and well-presented dish, fresh and spring-like…

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