Lemon Herb Ricotta Agnolotti

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March 17th last year was day three of our ten day trek on the Torres del Paine circuit. Some of you weren’t with us last year when we took a hiatus to Patagonia, Chile. I made Pisco Sours when we came home. In any case, we had put in 20km that day and looked ahead at a challenging summit early the next morning. Shaun made camp by the lake of Los Perros Glacier, pitching the tent as I propped up my swollen feet against the tree from where I started putting up the hammock and stopped halfway. I draped the hanging portion of the hammock over my face and listened to the moaning and creaking of the glacier, waiting every 15 minutes or so to hear large, school bus sized chunks of ice dislodge and crash into the water below.

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Shaun came over to where I lay comatose and finished my hammock job. I crawled in and tried not to think about food. We had underestimated our calorie needs for the trek and were on a tight ration of freeze-dried meals, oatmeal, and cliff bars for the remaining 100 kilometers. The two books and journal I had brought haunted me. I would have given my left arm to have swapped them for a jar of peanut butter when we left the hostel in Puerto Natales four days prior. I rocked over on my right side in the hammock to survey the area as other hikers limped in for the night. A splattering of white sticks at the base of a tree at the next campsite over came into focus. DEAR GOD, IS THAT SPAGHETTI? With a sudden burst of energy I rolled out of the hammock and motioned for Shaun to join me at the base of the tree. Sure enough. Dried spaghetti exploded across the roots in the dirt as if someone yesterday had been standing there and ripped open the package too quickly. One by one we collected the pasta like a game of pick-up-sticks, careful to keep the larger pieces intact before delicately placing them  in my beanie. We crouched by our tent for an hour brushing off the dirt before boiling a pot of water, cooking it, and adding it to our allotted packet-meal for the night.

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That bizarre, desperate, and humbling moment is everything to me. It is the most mortifying and perfect reminder we often just need one person to be with us in the amber of the moment and bear witness to our existence. Someone to sit with us in the dirt after a long day to sort through the muck and pick up the pieces of our lives and make something good of it. A hug, a look, a gesture that silently says… I hear you, I see you, and I’m right here with you. I’m pretty psyched on the fact that the person who eats spaghetti from the forest floor with me in times of famine is the person I get to call partner and “husband” for the rest of my life. And if we’re lucky enough to have a partner, sibling, parent, or friend who doesn’t back away from the vulnerable, ugly, and often lopsided parts of our journey, we should be bold enough to say thank you loudly and often. There is no work more important, in my opinion, than to accept this love and learn to share it with as many people as we can muster. It is the only work to be done in this lifetime, really. We go through our years busy-ing ourselves with work and pleasure and community, yet despite it all, we still often feel so darn alone. We must reach for one another, constantly.  We have to try and crouch together, we have to try to laugh, to listen, to cry, to bear witness to each other’s lives… they are affirmations to our humanity and our deep and fundamental longing to know and be known. I’m pretty young in the scheme of things and probably don’t know much about much, but this is what I believe: we were put here to hold on and hang in there, together. We’re here to seek each other and support and try our merry best to humble ourselves to the madness that is being alive together at the same time, rolling the dice, getting creative with hands outstretched to make the best of the whole thing.

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Lemon Herb Ricotta Agnolotti

Big hugs to my friend Bre Graziano, Italian food guru through and through, with the creation of this recipe.

  • 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese, homemade or purchased
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chervil
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2-3 tbsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ———
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon semolina flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • —–
  • pea shoots and fresh herbs for garnish
  • olive oil for cooking
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1 stick of butter


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In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, herbs, lemon juice, egg and salt/pepper until thoroughly combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl or clean, flat work surface combine the flour with the salt, nutmeg and the 1 tablespoon of semolina. Create a well in the flour and crack eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth, drizzle with olive oil, then continue with your hands to mix the oil and eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. As Jamie Oliver says “with a bit of work and some love and attention they’ll all bind together to give you one big, smooth lump of dough.” Wrap the dough in plastic and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and cover with plastic wrap while you work with one quarter at a time. Flatten the dough ball and dust with flour. Roll the dough through pasta machine at the widest setting. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter), then run it through the machine at the same setting, folded edge first. Repeat the folding and rolling once more. Roll the dough through at successively narrower settings, two times per setting, until it is thin enough for you to see the outline of your hand through it. Lay the dough out on a work surface lightly dusted with flour and trip the edges so they are straight.

Fill a ziploc bag (or piping bag if you’re fancy like that) with ricotta filling. Pipe filling across the bottom of the pasta sheet in a straight, even line. Pull the bottom edge of the pasta up and over the filling. Seal the agnolotti by carefully molding the pasta over the filling and pressing lightly with your index finger to seal the edge of the dough to the pasta sheet. Set aside, cover with a towel, and continue until you’ve used up your dough. You will probably have filling leftover! Double the dough recipe or use the filling for later. 

In a large saucepan, melt butter with lemon juice and olive oil over low-medium heat. Cook agnolotti in batches for 5 minutes at a time, using a spoon to drizzle pasta with hot liquid to cook evenly. Serve immediately with fresh herbs, pea shoots, and a bit of leftover Parmigiano-Reggiano

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  1. Becki @ Bites 'n Brews

    Beautiful story and beautiful outlook on life! The pasta doesn’t look so bad either :)


  2. Sascha

    Wow! Beautiful writing, beautiful photos, beautiful dish. Thank you for sharing.


  3. Julia

    What a lovely springlike pasta dish – and so beuatiful words.


  4. Joanna

    The hiking sounds like an incredible adventure! And the recipe looks deliciousxx


  5. Rachel

    What a beautiful expression of truth. As a nurse, I feel that I am often picking up spaghetti with my patients. Thank you for sharing.


  6. Kathryn

    This is one of my favourite of your posts Kelsey. Picking up spaghetti is such a good metaphor for the messy business of life.


  7. Christina

    Beautifully said, a nice reminder for me this morning. And such gorgeous pasta!


  8. Supal

    This is the most beautiful dish I have seen! The colors are so vibrant! I have been meaning to try something of the ravioli or gnocchi type and so this may be a good idea. xx


  9. Mallory

    Your words, your dishes, your photos….all so lovely. Thanks!


  10. katrina @ warm vanilla sugar

    Your photos are the best. Plain and simple. Love this recipe too :)


  11. dixya

    your words are so beautiful..and there is so much emotion and truth behind this story.


  12. Margarita

    This post resonated with me. Sometimes it takes experiences that completely remove us from our comfort zones for us to realize the importance of little things we take for granted. Life can be crazy and overwhelming, but sometimes all we need to do is look hard and we will see that we already have everything we need, and more.


  13. Lisa @ Simple Pairings

    How lovely. Your posts are so inspiring! Your pasta-making looks effortless and relaxing, and not to mention beautiful. I bet these are wonderful.


  14. Keli

    At any age we can appreciate life’s sweetness and the power of unity. Well said my young friend!
    If we look into each days moments……….life’s teachings and validations are there for us!
    Staying present is life’s hardest Trek~
    The still moments with the pasta dough and your hands is very appreciated this morning with my tea.
    I loved the gentle pressing motion with the ricotta and dough……..then seeing those soft pillows of delight!


  15. Ashley

    Absolutely LOVED this story. One of my favorite posts ever in this beautiful space. And, wow…this recipe. xo


  16. cheri

    What a lovely post. I had a small chuckle about the spaghetti, totally get that. Pasta looks so spring like, love it!


  17. ileana

    Oh, how I love this.


  18. Caitlin

    this was beautiful. thank you for sharing.


  19. kristie

    My husband and I did the same hike three years ago (and many more in Patagonia). We also were under prepared for the weather and the amount of food we would need. I lost ten pounds in a week! We wouldn’t change the experience for anything. What magical scenery.
    Beautiful photos, and beautiful words, as usual.


  20. Jade Sheldon-Burnsed

    Wow! These look incredible. My husband and I had such delicious agnolotti when we were in London this past September. I’ve always been a tad timid to try it at home, but maybe I need to finally give it a shot…


  21. Emily

    Fabulous photography. Homemade fresh pasta is just so much more enjoyable than shop-bought. These little morsels sound delicious.


  22. sara forte

    what a beautiful story. Every time I get frustrated with fam or friends I think of how grateful I am that I have Hugh – that in the muckiness of relationships, he gets me the most. At my worst and most dramatic and also when I cant keep from smiling. And sometimes its not all peachy with him, but I still have “my partner” in whom I am vulnerable and expect the same. It is my greatest gift and responsibility. Thanks for reminding me to hold it a little closer to the chest. People, the doing all this life along side each other… it truly is spectacular. xoxo


  23. shanna mallon

    This was beautiful.


  24. felicia | Dish by Dish

    Just as Sara said in the comment above, having a partner that swings with you, that shows you his vulnerabilities and accepts you for who you are; who’s there when you’re rock bottom or sky-high, it doesn’t matter – all that does is the fact that you’re both taking the same journey, hand-in-hand each step of the way.

    Thanks Kelsey. Your words stun me again.


  25. Sophie

    Love this homage to your Chilean found spaghetti! Great story, beautiful pasta dish. Getting so excited for spring and those pea shoots are only making me jones more! This agnolotti shape looks even simpler than ravioli — must try it myself soon!


  26. Winnie

    You amaze me.


  27. Becki Explorer

    This is the most inspiring blog post I have read in a very long time. Your reality of truth is so refreshing. I love this post. It’s perfect. Thank you.

    B x


  28. Kimberley

    God damn. I love this. I just cried a little. And someday I would also really like to hear the sound of ice calving from glaciers.


  29. Sini | my blue&white kitchen

    The love shines through your words which are heavy with wisdom. Kelsey, you are amazing. Thank you for writing and sharing your words and thoughts with us.
    Hope to make this gorgeous dish soon and share it with my loved ones.


  30. Jade

    Wow, this recipe leaves my eyes heart-shaped and luminous! It reminds me of my Italian grandma, who would, when we were younger, make the most incredible pasta, gnocchi and lasagna from scratch. I was always fascinated watching her work, making the dough, using her pasta machine. And the result would be heavenly.
    I’m vegan so it’s not one I can reproduce (nothing in the vegan world can replace ricotta), but sitting here taking in these magical pictures does the trick.

    As for the story – ah, such a good one! So exciting, beautiful, enlivening and joyous through and through. What a glorious message to reawaken in our hearts.


  31. Heather

    You brought tears to my eyes. This post is my favorite to come out of this blog, or any ever for that matter. Your words, Shaun’s photos, a friends recipe…our creative outputs are a true testament that the best things we do in life we never do alone, and so yes, I completely agree that cultivating these relationships with our partners, our families, and our dearest friends is the most important work that is to be done. bless you for sharing your gift of words with the world, and always encouraging me to reflect on my own humanity. this space is something i always look forward to reading.


  32. Jacqui

    Your posts always make me want to pump my fist in the air and yell out, YEAH! You know, in a “this-girl-gets-it-right-every-time” kind of way. :)


  33. Trisha

    You’ve beautifully captured something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. This is what marriage, and relationships, are about. Thank you.


  34. I love lists, Friday! – Shutterbean

    […] Lemon Ricotta Herb Agnolotti are simply […]

  35. Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody)

    Beautiful photos as per usual. I can just imagine how wonderful this pasta tastes. I really, really need to get a pasta maker!


  36. Yum, We Love Spring!

    […] Lemon Herb Ricotta Agnolotti . . . absolutely stunning. […]

  37. Alex

    Hmmm, I’m a big pasta eater myself, but I gotta watch my weight. I’m a gluten for punishment though – going around reading these food blogs when I haven’t even had lunch yet myself, but damn does that pasta look good :)


  38. this week’s happiness ii | punctuated with food

    […] This Happyolks post made my heart swell with gratitude for friends, family, and especially my husband who let me lean on them when I’m feeling weak and who are the one who make the good times even better. Kelsey really has a way with words. Plus, lemon herb ricotta agnolotti. […]

  39. Renee

    The third paragraph of this post is breathtaking. Thank you.


  40. Aeron

    Wonderful, as usual, Kelsey – from the story to the pasta!
    We’re in a local B&B tonight, as we take another step in repairing our home that was damaged by three severe storms this past year. It has been a challenge for everyone in our area – and even this lovely B&B has work yet remaining. However, we pull together in our small community, and work is slowly getting completed in every neighborhood and out in the county.
    Your story reminded me that while none of us was prepared for these storms, we’ve found spaghetti on the ground, gathered it lovingly, and have been nourished by it – and by our fellowship. It’s been a long road, but things will be pretty much completed by the fall, and we actually look forward to the remaining work. Repairs completed so far have lifted our spirits and the many meals and talks shared have gotten us where we are: together on the journey.
    Thank you for this wonderful post. A friend owns and runs the B&B and we have been known to cook together here. Thanks to you, we have a new dish to try this weekend. Sounds like fun to me!


  41. Jodi

    all and everything about this post. love, food, living and all the adventures and nourishment in between. beautiful words, Kelsey. spaghettit eater in crime and a master photographer, not a bad catch :) Beautiful photos.


  42. Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is

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  43. Mariela

    Una receta iluminadora… Thank you for the beautiful words, Saludos desde Chile


  44. aida mollenkamp

    Such gorgeous photos and one of my ultimate comfort food favorites!


  45. cynthia

    I think I’m generally a distant (but fervent) admirer of your absolutely stunning blog, but just had to come and tell you what an absolutely incredible inspiration you are. Thanks for sharing this story, for your stunning photos (the process! the entire process! all in photos!) and for this wonderful recipe.


  46. Molly E

    beautiful and meaningful words. Truly it is all about feeling another is with you in this crazy life


  47. k

    Your pieces about loneliness and connection always ring so true. I find myself nodding along and saying yes! She is right! That’s it!


  48. Holly

    Gah, so beautiful and full of wisdom. If we can’t enter into each other’s messes and pains and loneliness, I don’t know what relationships are for. Loved this story.


  49. Leah

    what a touching story and gorgeous pictures. I feel very lucky as well to have found a husband who is my best friend and my complete support system. It is so easy to take it for granted.


  50. Angy

    If I ever were to lose you,
    I’d surely lose myself
    Everything I have found here,
    I’ve not found by myself,
    Try and sometimes you’ll succeed,
    To make this man of me
    All my stolen missing parts
    I’ve no need for anymore

    I believe,
    And I believe ’cause I can see,
    Our future days,
    Days of you and me

    Back when I was feeling broken,
    I focused on a prayer
    You came deep as any ocean
    Did something out there here
    All the complexities and games
    No one wins, but somehow, they still play
    All the missing crooked hearts
    They may die, but in us they live on

    I believe,
    And I believe ’cause I can see,
    Our future days,
    Days of you and me

    When hurricanes and cyclones rage,
    When wind turned dirt to dust,
    When floods they came or tides they raised ever,
    Closer became us

    All the promises at sundown,
    I meant them like the rest,
    All the demons used to come around,
    I’m grateful now they’ve left

    So persistent in my ways,
    Hery angel, I’m here to stay
    No resistance, no alarms, please this is just too good to be gone

    I believe,
    And I believe ’cause I can see,
    Our future days,
    Days of you and me,
    You and me …

    Eddie Vedder


  51. Katie @ Produce On Parade

    Such lovely words. Beautiful, truly! :) I adored this post.


  52. a random selection of objects : leonie wise

    […] watching: this BRILLIANT and HILARIOUS youtube video – Les Beaux Frères – Serviette marvelling: over the climb required to get to the Mt. Huashan tea house making: this seer’s tea by beth from local milk using: the makr ipad app that she writes about in the link above to produce some labels for all the chutneys i’ve been making. now i just need to find a good source for avery labels in nz going: orienteering with my man + a friend at the auckland club’s summer nav series loving: eat here now – an auckland-based eating out guide. it’s a bit light on waiheke content though… might try & change that. listening: to ronna detrick – thanks ever so much to the numinous jane for the introduction reading: kelsey forages for spaghetti, writes about the experience and manages to find words i feel but haven… […]

  53. Ashley

    This is a great tutorial. I love all the pictures, and the recipe is fantastic. Thanks for sharing. A must try,


  54. mj

    beautiful and true


  55. jo / the desert echo

    What a gorgeous story, I love how your words capture the moment perfectly in all its hilarious exhaustion that I myself have felt many times. This pasta dish looks divine and the photos are so moody, elevating the act of making pasta into a graceful dance.


  56. Holly @ The Modern Proper

    lovely and very heartwarming story. This pasta looks delicious and not to difficult! Thank you.


  57. Logan

    I absolutely love your blog. Your writing and photos never fail to cheer me up. I’m in the midst of trying to cook this pasta now (in way over my head) and wanted to check about the salt- you say 2-3 tbsp, we did 2 but it seems like way too much. I wanted to check if that was supposed to be 2-3 tsp?


  58. Kristina

    You are an AMAZING writer. I can’t wait to read each new post. Great recipe as well :)


  59. My New Favorite Things | The Culinary Capers

    […] Lemon Herb Ricotta Agnolotti from Happyolks. Lemon + Pasta = perfection. […]

  60. Becky

    agnolotti is one of my favorite dishes of all time Kelsey!! So glad to find a tried and true recipe for it here. Hope you are doing well. Take care, Becky


  61. Becky

    LOVE the spaghetti story too!!


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  63. Frank

    So beautifully made, thanks for the great tutorial!


  64. To Do List: March 2014 - Aida Mollenkamp

    […] produce is in the market. So, until Spring really, seriously arrives, consider cooking up these Lemon Herb Ricotta Agnolotti for a taste of Spring without the […]

  65. Lottie

    Kelsey. I keep coming back to this post in different seasons and weeks when I need a reminder. Thank you for your incredible writing talent. For me you are a titan of good on the internet. Know your influence is large. Thank you.


  66. Krystina

    Your words make me tear up – every – single – time. Thank you for your generosity, in sharing your thoughts that wake us up. My spirit resounds with so many of your told moments, vulnerabilities, and hopes! There are so many writers, so many bloggers, in the world … and you are one of few that I have saved in my heart as a soul-companion. You inspire me, and remind me of Home.


  67. anne

    love your philosophy of life. wish more people felt the same way, then this world would be a better world. keep up the positive vibes!


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