Growing up, I have fond memories of big holiday dinners with my extended family members on my father’s side – aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles, grandparents and lots of cousins.
Being Italian-American, the holidays always revolved around food. A lot of food. In fact, us cousins would get super frustrated on Christmas Eve because it took so long to eat all the different courses. By time we got to dessert, which usually involved homemade Italian cookies, the adults seemed to take forever to drink their coffee. All we wanted to do was open presents.
The most important part of the Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve (and sometimes Easter, if we were lucky) were the cappelletti. Cappelletti are pasta in the shape of a small hat. The “hat” is usually filled with a combination of meat and cheese. As far back as I can remember we started our holiday meal with cappelletti soup. I think most of us would have been happy to only have cappelletti soup. It is that good. There’s something about the filling in that little hat that gives it such a rich, amazing flavor.
The thing with cappelletti is that they are extremely labor intensive to make. In fact, it seemed that only a few little old Italian ladies would make them around the holidays. They were a hot commodity growing up in the Milford, Massachusetts area, and I have yet to find them outside the area.
At some point, my family realized that it might be good idea to learn how to make the cappelletti ourselves. We couldn’t imagine the holidays without them and who knows how long they’d be available in the local Italian markets. (And, to be honest, we notice the quality of the cappelletti was going down.)
This weekend was the third year in a row my parents and sister made cappelletti. It was my second time helping, and the first time my boys got to pitch in. G, my six year old, got to put the dough through the pasta machine, while my mom cut the pasta into squares. My sister, dad and me put the filling in the middle of the pasta squares and made the little hats. Biz, my almost 3 year old, was content playing with his own piece of dough by our side. It took a few hours, but we ended up with 401 (Biz got to make the last one) cappelletti filled with pork, veal, chicken and romano cheese. Yum!
Is it Thanksgiving yet?