Last summer, our family took a trip to New York City. On our last night in the city, we enjoyed an Italian dinner
at Cellini on East 54th Street.
I ordered a baked pasta called imbustata. The menu described it as oven-baked, envelope-shaped pasta filled with roasted veal, chicken, wild mushrooms and spinach, topped with a combination of mascarpone cheese and fresh tomato sauce.
I’ve come up with an at-home version that is a bit simpler than the restaurant version. The imbustata at the restaurant used house-made pasta sheets to form the envelopes, but I’ve used no-boil lasagna noodles instead.
Simply let the noodles soak in hot water with a touch of olive oil for 20 minutes, until they soften and become pliable.
The filling for the envelopes is a combination of chopped mushrooms, ground chicken, spinach and parmesan cheese. I add mascarpone to give it a little creaminess. You can find mascarpone in the deli specialty cheese case. It can be pricey, but you can substitute cream cheese or ricotta cheese.
The envelopes are baked in a creamy tomato sauce. If you have a favorite marinara recipe, you simply add half and half to that. Alternately, you can pick up a jar of your favorite prepared marinara sauce from the supermarket.
These delicious little pasta parcels bake up in 30 minutes and are elegant enough to serve to company.
Some crusty bread and a big, tossed salad are all you need to complete your menu.
24 no-boil lasagna noodles, about 2 boxes (Barilla brand was used for testing purposes)
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon more for greasing baking sheets
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced, about 1 teaspoon
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 pound ground chicken
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained well
4 ounces mascarpone cheese (ricotta or cream cheese can substitute)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus 1 cup more for baking
3 cups homemade or prepared marinara sauce
1½ cups half and half
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-13-inch glass baking dishes with olive oil and set aside.
Fill a large baking dish with hot water and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Place the lasagna noodles in the water and set aside for 20 minutes.
Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and ground chicken, stirring and breaking up the ground chicken. Cook for five minutes and then add the chopped spinach and cook, stirring, for five minutes more, until chicken is completely cooked.
Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone and parmesan cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Combine the marinara sauce and half and half in a medium bowl, stirring to thoroughly combine. Cover the bottom of each dish with a thin layer of sauce.
Remove the lasagna noodles from water and lay them on paper towels. Take two noodles and place one on top of the other to form
a plus sign. Place about
3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture in the center of the noodles.
Fold the bottom noodle over the filling, and then fold the other noodle over the top to form a square pouch. Place the pouches seam-side down in the prepared baking dishes.
When all of the ravioli are completed, cover them with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes more or until cheese is browned and sauce is bubbly.
Makes 12 imbustata, about 6-8 servings.