Some flavors evoke positive thoughts related to people who loved us.
Cappelletti di Magro makes me think of Adua.
She and her home tailoring lab are among the fond memories of my childhood and adult life.
Cappelletti of Romagna
Cappelletti is a stuffed pasta typical of Romagna. The name literally means “little-hats”.
You can find cappelletti filled with meat and Parmigiano, ricotta and vegetables, or just ricotta and, at least, fish. When cappelletti is without meat, they are called cappelletti di Magro (no meat).
In Italy, people ate lean following the precepts of the Catholic religion. Today everyone eats as they like. But on some occasions, the tradition of abstaining from meat consumption remains; for instance, on Christmas Eve.
At home, for lunch on the 24th, we always ate lean, for example, cappelletti or spaghetti Bolognese (which exist and are with tuna).
Adua, the queen of dresses
I used to accompany Mother to try on dresses that Adua sewed for her.
The small apartment consisted of an entrance hall, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room used as a laboratory filled with fabrics, threads, and fashion magazines.
In front of a wall mirror was a large rug. I remember I used to sit in a corner to observe Mom’s dress fittings.
In her lab, I did not notice the passing of hours. It was a suspended time, and everything that happened seemed noteworthy.
At one point, I became a protagonist of the wonder of having a dress or coat sewn on. Adua was patient and kind but outspoken, too much so for some. She always apologized for having cold hands.
And my turn to try on and chat also began. There was always a small gift waiting for me: cookies, trays of fresh pasta, the amaro Cento Erbe, made with many fresh herbs. At that time, I was about 20 years old, already living alone in Bologna, and those gifts were especially welcome.
When I started working at the university, commuting between Bologna and Forli, visits from Adua became less frequent, and I lost sight of her. She would ask Mom for news of me, and I would return the greetings.
A few years later, Mom said that Adua was alone and that her relatives did not invite her even at Christmas.
I had been married for a few months. Meeting my husband was the happy meeting of two families who began to be Christmas Eve and many other events together.
Without hesitation, I proposed to Guido to invite Adua. It was the first of many years together.
My fish cappelletti
At that time, I did not have time to cook. Mostly I used to cook on the occasion of an event.
Organizing and cooking the Christmas Eve dinner became my task. Every year, to this day, I would study a different menu.
I remembered that Adua loved the fish cappelletti that her mom used to make for her when she was a child for Christmas Eve dinner.
I thought fish cappelletti would be a perfect welcome.
And since I did not make pasta dough like today, I prepared the filling and went home asking for help to make cappelletti.
Today, as then, I serve cappelletti di magro (no-meat), with a fish filling, in a simple but fragrant vegetable broth where I add, before serving, chopped chives instead of Parmigiano. But you can also serve them with butter and Parmesan.
Above all, I remember Adua’s happiness. Her smile accompanied the announcement of the fish cappelletti. It is a smile I can never forget.
Adua has passed away. I keep the recipe and the last bottle of Amaro Cento Erbe with the handwritten label and a black silk shawl. I cried when I learned her relatives threw away her things, including the recipe notebook.
Still today, I see you surrounded by needles, threads, fabric, and laughter.
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You can replace the ricotta cheese with a boiled potato.
You should get about 36 cappelletti, enough for 4 people.
Fish cappelletti of Romagna
List of the Ingredients
flour 00, 200 g
normal eggs, 2
white fish fillets such as sea bass, sea bream or sea bass, 250 g
drained ricotta cheese, 120 g
grated Parmigiano, 30 g
dried oregano to taste
grated lemon zest to taste
olive oil and salt to taste
water, 2 liters
small onion, 1
white celery stalk with leaf, 1
4 bay leaves
2 juniper berries
a few saffron pistils
salt to taste
Chives to taste
Boil fish fillets in unsalted boiling water.
Clean and slice shallots, and cook gently with olive oil.
In a bowl, combine the stuffing ingredients and reduce to a cream with an immersion blender.
On a cutting board or a bowl, combine eggs and flour and knead until the mixture is elastic and firm. Wrap in plastic wrap or cover with a tea towel and let rest, out of the refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry thinly and cut out squares about 4 cm on a side.
In the post about the traditional pasta dough of Emilia, you will find suggestions and tips that may come in handy.
In the center of each square of pasta dough, put some filling. Close by forming a triangle, adhere edges, and join ends.
In a pot, combine the broth ingredients. Bring to a boil, then low the heat, and cook the broth for 30-40 minutes over medium-low heat.
Cook the cappelletti in the strained vegetable broth and sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.
You can find a post on the blog dedicated to vegetable broth.