Freshly made taglierini spinach pasta is tossed with buttered ham and cream, then covered in Béchamel sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and browned in the oven for a delightfully delicious meal. To make perfectly shaped taglierini pasta, you need a pasta-making machine. It is best to cook the pasta a few hours after letting the dough rest for a while. Keep it wrapped in plastic to keep it moist and fresh tasting.
Make the béchamel sauce beforehand so you simply need to pour it over the cooked pasta and ham. Also known as white sauce, béchamel is made with butter and flour and combined with milk. It is one of the most basic mother sauces of French cooking and is also used in many Italian recipes.
To make a simple béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it foams but not brown. Add equal part flour and stir for a minute or two until bubbling. Care should be taken not to brown the sauce. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly add the milk, stirring constantly using a wooden spoon. Return the mixture to the heat and stir the sauce gently until it comes to a boil and thickens, coating the back of the wooden spoon. Stir in Parmesan and salt to flavor the sauce. You can also add a pinch of nutmeg, which is customary in Italy. The thickness of the sauce will depend on the proportion of roux and milk; typically a cup of milk will need about one to three tablespoon each of flour and butter.
A type of egg pasta, taglierini is similar to the more popular tagliatelle but thinner. It comprises of long noodles that look like ribbons. It is typically eaten with truffles or meat roast sauce known as ragu. It also lends well to cream-based sauces, seafood, and vegetable sauces.
Green Pasta Gratin with Ham and Cream
1/4 lb. cooked ham cut into julienne (thin, long slices)
1/2 cup cream
½ lb. green taglierini (see below)
Béchamel sauce (white sauce)
Grated parmesan cheese
2.2 lbs. flour
1/2 lb. spinach blanched and finely ground
3 or 4 eggs (depending on the amount of juice from the spinach)
1 tablespoon water
1. To make the pasta dough, mix the flour and spinach until the ingredients are evenly distributed and there are no clumps. Add the eggs and water. Knead for 10 minutes until you obtain smooth, homogenous dough. Allow the dough to rest for 2 hours in a plastic bag.
2. Using a pasta-making machine, spread the dough with a thickness of about 1/10 inch. Cut into pieces and allow drying. Place the dough into the machine again and cut into taglierini. Spread the taglierini on a cloth and cover with a plastic to keep the pasta moist.
3. In a copper pan, brown the ham with butter. Add the cream and reduce.
4. In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large saucepan with salted water until al dente. Drain.
5. Mix the pasta with the cream and ham and put the whole in an oven-proof dish. Cover with béchamel sauce.
6. Sprinkle grated Parmesan and bake in the oven until an au gratin is obtained.