Smoked Mozzarella Mezzelune with Braised Onion Sauce


Mezzelune (which means "half-moons" in Italian) is a crescent-shaped stuffed pasta similar to ravioli. They're a relatively simple shape to try that requires little equipment to make at home. Meryl Feinstein of Pasta Social Club fills hers with rosemary and smoked mozzarella. A little semolina flour will give the pasta dough more structure and bite, but feel free to omit it and use the same weight of "00" flour or all-purpose flour. If you can't find smoked mozzarella, another smoked cheese like gouda will work in a pinch. The accompanying thick, rich slow-cooked tomato-and-onion sauce is loosely inspired by a Bolognese classic called il friggione. You'll often find il friggione served with meat, as a side dish, and as an antipasto—but of course it works well with pasta, too.

Smoked Mozzarella Mezzalune with Braised Onion Sauce
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Missie Neville Crawford
Total Time:
3 hrs
8 to 10 servings



  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 ounces), divided

  • 4 medium onions, chopped into 1/2- inch pieces (about 6 cups)

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • ¼ cup tomato paste

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • 3 cups vegetable stock, plus more as needed

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Small pinch of ground cloves (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon high-quality balsamic vinegar (optional)

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste


  • 2 ¼ cups Italian-style 00 flour (about 10 1/2 ounces) or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • .3333 cup semolina flour (about 1 3/4 ounces), Italian-style 00 flour, or all-purpose flour

  • 4 large eggs, beaten

  • Semolina flour or cornmeal, for dusting


  • 1 ½ cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 3 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese,grated (about 3/4 cup)

  • 1 ¾ ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,grated (about 1/3 cup), plus more for serving

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

Additional Ingredients

  • Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish


Make the sauce

  1. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large Dutch oven over medium. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste; stir to coat onions. Cook, stirring constantly, until tomato paste slightly darkens, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine; bring to a simmer over medium. Simmer, undisturbed, 3 minutes. Add stock, bay leaves, and cloves, if using; return to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stir- ring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and mixture reaches a jammy consistency, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. If needed, after about 1 hour, stir in additional stock, 1/2 cup at a time, to prevent burning. Remove and discard bay leaves. Add balsamic vinegar, if using, and remain- ing 2 tablespoons butter; stir until butter melts. Stir in pepper and remaining 1/4 tea- spoon salt; season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from heat.

While sauce cooks, make the pasta

  1. Pulse 00 flour, semolina flour, and eggs in a food processor until shaggy clumps of dough form, about 5 pulses. Transfer dough to a clean work surface. Knead until smooth and firm, about 10 minutes. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature 30 minutes.

While pasta dough rests, make the filling

  1. Pulse ricotta, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth and creamy, about 12 pulses. Season with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Transfer filling to a small bowl or a piping bag with a 1/2-inch hole snipped in the tip. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  2. Dust 2 large baking sheets with semolina flour or cornmeal. Unwrap pasta dough. Cut a one-quarter portion from dough; rewrap remaining dough to prevent it from drying out. Flatten dough portion using heel of your hand to 1/4-inch thickness. Starting with the widest roller setting, pass dough through pasta machine. Fold outer tapered ends of sheet in toward the center like an envelope so that width of pasta sheet is similar to width of pasta roller. Pass pasta sheet through widest set- ting 1 more time. (It should resemble a fairly even rectangle.) Continue rolling pasta through machine, reducing roller width setting 1 notch each time pasta is rolled, until sheet is about 1 millimeter thick. (You will be able to see your hand through the sheet, but it should still be sturdy.)

  3. Place pasta sheet on a work surface lightly dusted with 00 flour. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out pasta rounds. Brush excess flour from pasta scraps, and gather into a ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and set aside. Spoon or pipe 1 tea- spoon filling onto center of each dough round, and flatten slightly using a fingertip. Working with 1 dough round at a time, fold round in half to form a half-moon; seal opposite corners first, then gently press out any air, and seal edges around filling. If dough is too dry to seal, lightly wet edges of half of round with water using your fingertip, and, using your fingers, press firmly to seal and form a mezzeluna. Place on prepared baking sheet in a single layer, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with remain- ing dough and filling, rerolling pasta scraps.

  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high. Salt the water as desired, and gently add half of mezzelune, shaking off any excess semolina first. Gently stir, and cook, undisturbed, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. While pasta cooks, ladle 1/3 cup pasta cooking liquid into sauce in skillet; reheat sauce over low.

  5. Using a slotted spoon or a spider, transfer cooked mezzelune to sauce in skillet; stir gently to coat. Repeat process with remaining mezzelune, adding additional cooking liquid as needed to loosen sauce enough to coat mezzelune. Divide mezzelune evenly among plates. Sprinkle with a generous showering of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garnish with thyme. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead

To prevent cracking, prepare mezzelune through step 6, blanching for just 1 minute. Drain, and let dry 30 minutes. Freeze in a single layer on a semolina- dusted rimmed baking sheet until just solid, about 25 minutes. Transfer to freezer bags, and freeze up to 3 months. To cook from frozen, add 1 to 2 minutes to cook time. Sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.


Find 00 flour at specialty grocery stores or online at

Suggested Pairing

Smoky, dark-fruited Italian red: Terredora Aglianico Campania

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