About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Sliced Pasta Roll with Spinach and Ham Filling | Main | Pizzoccheri »

Scrigno di Venere - Venus' Jewel Case


Also known as Pasta Wrappers Filled with Spinache Fettuccine, Porcini Mushrooms, and Ham. I prefer the more romantic name.

Marcella tells us that these were the most sublime of the 30-40 pastas served at Bologna's famous Al Cantunzein restaurant in the late 1960s. I was taken with her description of the restaurant, so I did an internet search and found this vintage newspaper photo from 1968. As it happens, the dish on the serving tray is Scrigno di Venere!


I anticipated this day, and at the same time dreaded it. It wasn't the multiple pages this single recipe fills in the book. It wasn't the fact that you must make two different fresh pastas and two different sauces before you even begin to assemble the Scrigno di Venere. I quite enjoy and look forward to that kind of challenge.

My dread was knowing that when they came out of the oven, I was going to have to photograph my less than perfectly formed pasta packages. And then, I was going to post that photograph here for all to critique. Pressure.

The exterior of the jewel case is made of a single thin sheet of yellow pasta. Marcella instructed that it must be rolled paper thin - you could easily see through to the stripes of my towel.


Inside the scrigno is fresh spinach fettuccine tossed with the ham and porcini sauce and then drizzled with bechamel. The purses are folded up; secured with toothpicks; and wrapped with a single strand of fettuccine before being baked in a hot oven for a few minutes to brown the edges of the wrapper.


It was tramatic to make that first cut into my Venus' Jewel Case.


But the reward was delicious. We didn't have a wine from Emilia-Romagna on hand to enjoy with this dish, but Verona is only one province away, so we opened a 2002 Masi Campofiorin Ripasso. It pairs exceptionally well with mushrooms and had been hanging around long enough.


Comments (11)

Deborah, I think you have outdone yourself with this! It looks fantastic. Brava!


Deborah, are you sure you're human? I think only a saint could make this dish!! I am beyond impressed! I love the name of the dish, perfetto! I have a jewelry case which bunches up at the top like your pasta case. I would rather your filling be inside than any "jewels" I own. Bellissimaaaaaa!!!!!!!

Deborah- They are beautiful! Just perfect. I thought I'd read every recipe in the cookbook, but somehow I don't remember this one. What a special little bundle to prepare for a loved one.

I remember reading this recipe and wondering 'how come Deborah gets all of the amazing things to try?' LOL

This looks amazing - I can't wait to try it.

Marcella Hazan:

It looks marvelous, Deborah and your step-by-step photographs are excellent. I don't think it is as daunting as it sounds, this dish. It takes patience, a methodical approach, and at the right time it all comes together.

This is the dish that won me Craig Claiborne's friendship forever. Early in our acquaintance, he had begun to come for a quiet tête-à-tête lunch when we could chat about everything, including his troubled love life. One day I made this, and it really turned out perfectly, and he declared it was the best pasta dish he had ever tasted. From then on he was my most loyal supporter.


Love the pics & description of the preparation - with the added bonus of some. historical perspective.

I'll be sure to try this soon, when I want to impress somebody big time.


Deborah, I left you a comment this morning, but it somehow didn't go through.

This looks FABULOUS, and your photos are beautiful!. I can't wait to make this when the temperature gets below 110! Brava! I can almost taste it. You done good!

Thanks, everyone, for you kindness in calling my "baby" beautiful! :grin:

Jerry, why are you complaining? You get the Pan Fried Braciole Filled with Cheese and Ham. (Nov. 6). I love that recipe!

Thank you Marcella, for your kind words. Thank you also, for sharing these little bits of interesting memories our posts are evoking. It makes it all the more rewarding for us.

They are just beautiful, Deborah! You should be proud - even Marcella thought so!

Emily Hamblen:

This is so impressive! :)

Andrea Battellani:

Very good, you did a great job. - Andrea

Deborah responds: Thanks so much Andrea, for the lovely compliment.

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