My first encounter with Mezzelune with Cavalo Nero & Ricotta was in the town of L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region of Italy. We'd been visiting the town on a LONG day of driving around. It's a beautiful part of Italy, green and remote, with many beautiful villages perched mountainside - a picture-perfect Italy. When we arrived in L'Aquila it was some six years after the devastating earthquakes that struck the region in 2009. We were shocked at the sheer devastation that still rendered most of this once bustling town deserted. The whole town centre was essentially abandoned and most buildings were kept upright by a complex web of scaffolding. It's as if the earthquake had just hit that day.
We wandered around the desolate centre for an hour or so, guided by an insistent Google Maps that was displaying a particular restaurant I'd found 'OPEN NOW'. None of the directions worked - streets were either closed, fenced off or no longer existed. It became an epic search. But I was hungry, so determination ensued.
Eventually, we found the restaurant. Literally the only complete building on the street. Completely unharmed by the quake. An oasis in the scaffolding. Quite bizarre, but a very welcome sight to see. The staff were very happy to seat us, super friendly - most likely thrilled to see anyone who had the determination to find them. No English was spoken, and no menus were forthcoming so we just accepted to eat what we were given.
After a splendid antipasti platter, our pasta dish arrived, a glorious mezzelune pasta (translated as half-moon) stuffed with ricotta and cavolo nero (Tuscan Kale). It came tossed in the reddest tomato sauce I've ever encountered. To say it was delicious would be a huge disservice. It was out of this world!
Red, white & green - a celebration of the Italian flag.
Fresh pasta is always a treat, and when it's so smooth and silky combined with a light, flavoursome stuffing it makes for something very special indeed. The light, fruity sauce tops off this dish - so simple in ingredients, so complex in flavour and texture. Each colour of the Italian flag is represented and each brings something wonderful to the plate.
How to make fresh mezzelune
Making fresh pasta is not as daunting as you might think, and it makes the world of difference to any dish - particularly a stuffed pasta such as mezzelune. Check out my guide how to make fresh egg pasta to refine your pasta making skills.
Mezzelune are probably the easiest stuffed pasta to make at home. They are similar in approach to a pierogi or a Chinese dumpling. The filling is laid in the centre of a flat disc of pasta, then simply folded in half and sealed to create a semi-circle or half-moon. My video recipe below will show you how to create a mezzelune yourself. It's really easy!