Green Asparagus Agnolotti with Black Truffle, Morels, and Tarragon

Ezra Duker

Mainland Inn, Harleysville, PA

This dish of delicate agnolotti highlights two of our favorite early-spring offerings: morels and asparagus.


Pasta Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 14 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Asparagus Filling:

  • 5 bunches green asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup fine white polenta
  • 1/2 cup butter, chopped
  • 3/4 mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Morel and White Asparagus Ragú:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 cups butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups (1 pound) fresh morels, washed
  • 1 bunch white asparagus, blanched and shocked, then cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped black truffles
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons black truffle oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives for garnish


To make the pasta, place the flour in a large bowl and create a well in the center. Add the egg yolks, egg, milk, olive oil, and salt to the well. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the flour from the inner walls of the well, breaking the egg yolks in the process. Continue incorporating the flour until the mixture in the well is too stiff to be mixed with the fork. Use your hands to fold in any remaining flour. Form the mass into a ball, then knead it on a floured surface for 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

To make the asparagus filling, preheat the oven to 450ºF. Toss the asparagus in olive oil and spread out on a baking tray. Cook in the oven until tender, about 5 minutes. Quickly transfer the asparagus to a bowl and place in an ice bath to cool rapidly.

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the polenta and cook, whisking frequently, until smooth and extremely thick, approximately 20 minutes. Season with salt and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Set aside and let cool.

In a food processor, combine the asparagus and polenta and purée until smooth. Add the mascarpone, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon juice, and lemon zest and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/3-inch tip. Set aside.

To make the agnolotti, cut off a quarter of the pasta dough and re-wrap the rest in plastic to prevent it from drying out. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is a half of an inch thick, then fold in half. Repeat at least 5 times.

Run the dough through a pasta machine on the widest setting. Continue running the dough through the machine, adjusting to a thinner setting on each pass. The pasta will get longer and thinner as it passes through the machine, but make sure it remains at least 6 inches wide. When you can almost see through the dough, lay it on a floured surface,

Moving across the dough lengthwise, pipe some filling along the center of the sheet, leaving about a half inch on each short end bare. Gently grab the long edge of the sheet that’s farthest away from you and fold it over the filling, lining up the top and bottom edges of the sheet evenly. Press the two edges together to seal. Starting on one short end of the folded sheet, use your index finger to press down on the dough below the filling; the band of filling should be snugly encased within the folded edge of the dough without leaking out. Continue along the entire length of the sheet to fully seal in the filling.

Starting on one end of the sheet again, firmly press down on the hump of pasta that covers the filling, pressing at 1-inch intervals; this creates the individual agnolotti. Continue along the entire length of the dough, pressing down firmly to seal. Use a crimped pastry wheel or knife to trim excess dough from bottom of the sheet, leaving about a quarter of an inch of dough below the filling. Slice through the spots where you pressed down. Transfer the separated agnolotti to a lightly floured surface, making sure that they don’t touch each other.

Repeat the above steps with the remaining three quarters of dough.

Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring it to a boil.

Meanwhile, make the ragú: bring the vegetable stock to a simmer in a medium pot. Lower the heat and slowly whisk the butter into the stock a piece at a time. (Once the butter is incorporated the sauce should be slightly thickened.)

Add the agnolotti to the boiling pot of water and let cook while you continue making the ragú.

Add the morels to the butter sauce and gently cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped truffles and white asparagus and cook until heated through.

At this point, the agnolotti should be slightly al dente and floating on the surface of the water. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the butter sauce. Add half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon juice, truffle oil, and tarragon; gently toss all of the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon some ragú and agnolotti into 6 pasta bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and the chives.


6 servings