After posting a photo of my homemade Mandilli (Handkerchief) Pasta, with Ricotta, Pesto and Spicy Red Sauce, I received a lot of requests for the recipe. So after switching a few things around on my blogging calendar, here it is.
This dish is all about the love for delicate fresh pasta, warm tomato sauce, liquoricey basil and cheese. It’s also very easy to make and if you don’t have time to make everything from scratch, it’s easy to use already made ingredients. It even makes a great make-ahead dish.
Mandilli (Handkerchief) Pasta, with Ricotta, Pesto and Spicy Red Sauce is sexy enough for date night or family night. The delicate thin sheets of fresh pasta folded with creamy whole mix ricotta and pesto laid in a spicy red sauce are perfect for anytime. I could eat a plate right now!
While I highly recommend making this dish from scratch, if you’re short on time you can use already made fresh or dried pasta sheets, a jar of red sauce and pesto, as well as already grated or slices of mozzarella cheese. Making Mandilli (Handkerchief) Pasta, with Ricotta, Pesto and Spicy Red Sauce homemade takes around an hour to produce a finished dish, whereas the shortcut methods, about 35 minutes.
As a make-ahead dish, you can assemble the pasta and lay in the red sauce, covering the pan with foil and refrigerating until ready to bake up to two days ahead. Then bake as instructed straight from the fridge. Baking time will extend five to 10 minutes.
Another way you can save time is by making a few batches pasta sauce and pesto ahead of time and freeze in required amounts for the dish. Take out what you need when making and you’re all set to go.
Make everyone feel loved with a hot dish of Mandilli (Handkerchief) Pasta, with Ricotta, Pesto and Spicy Red Sauce paired with a side salad and glass of red wine.
Mandilli, Handkerchief Pasta, with Ricotta, Pesto and Spicy Red Sauce
A beautiful delicate homemade pasta dough filled with ricotta cheese and pesto layered over Spicy Red Sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese. Shortcut alerts and gluten free option in recipe notes.
30 to 35 minutes
Add flour to a mixing bowl, forming a well in the center.
Pour olive oil, eggs, salt and pepper into the well. Gently draw the flour into the liquids, bringing the dough together.
Continue to knead the dough and add more flour as needed if the pasta is too wet. Or if still too dry add a little water until holding together. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
Form pasta dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest on the counter or in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To roll pasta, use a pasta machine or a rolling pin.
Divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll out until dough is slightly see through, around 1/16" thick and sheets are around 12" x 12". Follow your pasta machine directions for rolling if using. If using rolling pin, flour large flat surface and roll each piece of dough out.
Lightly flour each pasta sheet and gently fold and set aside under a slightly damp towel while you finish rolling out the rest of the sheets.
Spicy Red Sauce
While pasta dough is resting, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Add onions and carrots, cooking for about 3 to 4 minutes before tossing in the spices, garlic and roasted red pepper. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the pureed tomatoes to the pan and simmer sauce until reaching desired thickness.
Season with salt and pepper.
Using a blender or food processor, spinach, basil, nuts, cheese, garlic and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pulse to blend.
Add lemon juice and more olive oil until reaching desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Coat a large casserole dish with olive oil.
Pour 2 to 3 cups of Spicy Pasta Sauce in the bottom of the pan. Set pan to the side while you fill the pasta.
On a flat surface, cut each pasta sheet in half.
Spread each pasta sheet half with 1 tablespoon of pesto, followed by 2 to 3 tablespoons of ricotta cheese evenly spread on one side of each half. Fold the other half of the sheet over the ricotta.
Place the filled and folded pasta sheet in the prepared pan, starting at the top.
Continue layering each filled pasta sheet in the pan, overlapping about half way up the last sheet.
Once you filled all your pasta sheets or used up the ricotta cheese, place slices of the fresh mozzarella spaced randomly around the pan.
Cover pan with foil and pop into the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until pasta is bubbly.
Remove foil and turn oven to broil. When cheese to golden brown, remove pan from oven and allow to rest about 5 minutes before serving.
Shortcut Alerts: You can use already made pasta sheets, including gluten free sheets (cook if not using fresh sheets), pasta sauce, pesto and grated mozzarella for a faster dish.
The recipe also good with homemade ricotta cheese if you have time to make it.