When my boyfriend and I first started dating, he took me to an Italian restaurant named Paganelli’s. It was famous for its risotto and house-cured prosciutto, but it was a dish that received little fanfare that kept my boyfriend and I coming back: the strozzapreti. Now, I say “was” because the restaurant closed about a year ago and at that time it became imperative that my boyfriend and I learn how to hand-form our beloved strozzapreti. We clock some serious time perfecting our technique and today’s Strozzapreti with Sausage Meatballs and Kale is the result of this concerted effort.
Paganelli’s did not serve their strozzapreti with kale or meatballs or the leftover almond pesto they found in their claustrophobic fridge. My Strozzapreti with Sausage Meatballs and Kale is merely a suggestion. Strozzapreti is by no means a one sauce pasta shape. It has the potential for numerous applications and it’s WAY easier to form than farfalle. Symmetry is not important; relative size is not important; perfection of any kind is not important. The rougher and more rustic the strozzapreti looks the better. Essentially, if you have a crippling fear of failure (boy, am I right there with you), strozzapreti is the ideal short pasta to try your hand at. You can’t lose!
The sausage meatballs found in this dish harken back to my sausage-making days. And by “days” I mean day. Sausage-making is, like, hard and stuff. But shoutout to Sanagan’s Meat Locker for supplying me with intestines when no one else would. Anyway, the one aspect of sausage-making I have carried on doing is spicing my own meat. The sausage I make never makes it into a casing but it is hand-seasoned with red pepper flakes, fennel seed (so important), and orange zest (so so important). And when you’re not going through the trouble of packing the meat into casings, I feel a meatball shape is your best alternative. Seriously, hold on to this recipe just for the sausage meatballs, they are unbelievably good. I realize I’m patting myself on the back as I say this, but it is indeed the truth.
I am a bitter, sauteed green fiend, so kale is a natural companion for me. I like to think the addition of kale to this dish balances out the relatively evil properties of egg yolk heavy homemade pasta and those less-than-innocent sausage meatballs. But I have no evidence to support this. What I can say is the kale’s bitter flavor profile adds a refreshing element to the otherwise rich dish. The contrast of the kale’s texture also brings something extraordinary and unexpected to this bowl of pasta.
As the weather turns more dismal, you need this bowl of comfort in your life. Whip up Strozzapreti with Sausage Meatballs and Kale on a stormy Sunday for maximum coziness.
- 12 oz semolina flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1.5 lbs ground pork
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 large bunch of kale, washed, stalks removed and roughly chopped
- 1 batch Basic Pasta
- 1 batch Sausage Meatballs
- 1 cup button mushrooms, quartered
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup almond pesto
- Grated Parmesan Cheese for Serving
- Place salt and semolina in a large mixing-bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the center.
- Crack the eggs into the center of the well. Add the olive oil and water to the center as well.
- Using your hands, push the flour towards the well and slowly integrate the eggs into the flour. Mix until a dough starts to form.
- Knead the dough for about seven minutes, then form into a ball.
- Place a clean dish cloth over the dough and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- When the 30 minutes has elapsed, divide the dough into four quarters. Dust each quarter with extra semolina and form into thin discs.
- Using a pasta maker, roll each disc into thin (number 4 setting on my pasta maker) sheets. Dust with additional semolina.
- Fold each pasta sheet like a letter, then using a pizza cutter, slice the sheets into fours. Unfold each strip and twist it between your thumb and your forefinger. Pull 2-inch pieces from the strip and pinch off the end. Keep twisting and pulling until you reach the end of the strip.
- Dust finished Strozzapreti with additional semolina and set aside until ready to use.
- In a large bowl combine all meatball ingredients. Use your hands to ensure each ingredient is equally dispersed and well integrated.
- Form the meat mixture into mini meatballs. About 1 to 1.5-inches in circumference.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the strozzapreti. Cook the strozzapreti for 5-6 minutes before draining. Toss the cooked strozzapreti in some olive oil and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in an enamel-lined cast iron skillet. Add the meatballs to the pan in an even layer. Cook meatballs until well browned and cooked through. About 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the meatballs from the pan and place on a plate. Set aside.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté until browned and softened. About five minutes.
- Add the kale and sauté until the greens have significantly reduced in volume. Pour in the white wine and allow to cook off slightly.
- Add the meatballs, the strozzapreti and the pesto to the pan and toss to combine. Cook until everything is heated through.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
- Serve with wine and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.