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Bottoncini (Semola Dumplings) with Pecorino Toscano PDO with Chianti-soaked pigeon ragu


Ingredients for 4 people

For the pasta:

  • 1 pound (500 grams) durum wheat semolina,
  • about 300 ml water,
  • 1 pinch of salt.

For the filling:

  • 2 cups (250 g) of Pecorino Toscano DOP,
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water.

For the sauce:

  • 2 pigeons,
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar,
  • 1 cup Chianti (or still red wine),
  • 4 tablespoons chopped carrot,
  • onion,
  • celery,
  • 10 fresh rosemary sprigs,
  • 1 small clove garlic,
  • juniper berries,
  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,
  • 1/3 cup (100 ml) fresh cream,
  • salt and black pepper.


In a bowl put the durum wheat flour and half of the water provided and begin to mix, then add the water a little at a time until the dough is smooth, firm and elastic, put in a bowl,
cover and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Now make the filling.
Grate the cheese, add 2 tablespoons of water and begin to knead it. Add more water to very little once more and mixing until a paste like sugar dough.
Now roll out the dough on a lightly-floured work surface, until it is about 1/16 inch (2 mm) thick and then cut some 8-cm wide strips with a knife.
Shape the pecorino dough into some balls a bit bigger than a chickpea and place it on the lower half of the pastry dough, keeping them 4 cm apart, and then fold the dough until  you’re able to cover the filling, and while you press on the dough to close it, make sure to expel all the air (otherwise they’ll fill with air when they cook).

Shape your dumplings with a 3-cm wide round cookie cutter and let them dry on a lightly-floured working surface or on a drying rack if you have it. While the dough is drying, make the meat sauce. Cut the pigeon in pieces. Put them in a pot with half a cup of white vinegar, cover, and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, drain and let them cool, then remove the bones and remove the skin and chop up the pigeon meat with a knife.

Pour some oil in a pan, and as soon as it’s hot, add your finely-chopped rosemary and a garlic clove with a toothpick inserted in it, that way you can take it out sooner. Now add the pigeon meat and the juniper berries to the pan and let them brown and add some wine. Raise the heat to high for one minute, then continue to cook for 15 minutes. Remove the garlic and the juniper. Salt and pepper.
Add some cream and as soon as all of the ingredients have meld together, turn off the heat. Add two teaspoons of salt to a big pot of boiling water and then add your bottoncini.

Cook the pasta al dente, drain it, reserving two tablespoons of the cooking liquid in a glass, and then pour it into the pan with the meat sauce. Add two tablespoons of the cooking water. Cook the pasta with the meat sauce for two minutes just so the flavors of the meat sauce meld with the pasta.

Simona Lelli from blog Farine Fiori e Fili
Read the origina recipe on

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