Making tortelloni (tortellini). The husband has been busy with the pasta machine again, after a long break from it. Here’s his recipe for home-made tortelloni with spinach and ricotta. This required some effort, but turned out to be one of his top five creations to date!
INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)
- 2 cups Tipo ‘00? flour
- 1 cup durum wheat semolina flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt
- half glass of warm water
- 1 egg
- 1 container of Italian Ricotta cheese
- 50 g Parmesan cheese
- small amount (around 100g) of pre-cooked spinach
- sea salt
- black pepper
Pomodoro e Burro Sauce:
- 2 large ripe tomatoes (Italian or vine)
- 3 heaped tbsps of tomato concentrate
- olive oil
- 2 tbsps of fresh butter (not margarine!)
STEP ONE – How to make the pasta:
To make the pasta dough, make a little ‘hill’ of the two types of flour on a work surface. Make an indentation in the top so that it looks like a crater. Pour the olive oil into this, along with a good pinch of sea salt. Crack the egg and pour on top.
Now mix the ingredients together using a fork, starting at the edges of the hill and turning over the mixture. Then add a small amount of warm water to help mix everything into a soft dough.
Next, use your hands to knead and turn the dough. This needs to be done for at least 5 minutes until the mixture forms a smooth pale yellow dough.
Once kneaded, set aside in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. The dough needs to rest but must not be allowed to dry out.
STEP TWO – Tortelloni filling:
The filling is very simple to make. Empty the ricotta into a large bowl, add a handful of grated Parmesan, followed by the spinach. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper, then grate nutmeg into the mixture. Finally, beat the egg together and add. Turn it over thoroughly with a fork.
STEP THREE – Filling and sealing the tortelloni:
Roll the pasta out by pinching off sections of the dough ball (leaving the rest to stay moist under the cloth), using either a pasta machine or rolling pin.
Machine users should roll to the thinnest number, as the pasta thickness effectively doubles when the parcels are made. Once you have your sheets rolled, lay them out on trays or work surfaces well dusted with flour.
Here comes the fun part. Using a round cutter (I improvised with a thin glass Bodum storage jar) of around 7-8 cm in diameter, cut out circles from the sheets and place them on another well dusted surface.
Using a teaspoon, place the filling mixture in the centre of your circle, and with a pastry brush (or finger if you have no choice) brush a little warm water around the edges of the circle. Fold the circle in half to form a semi-circle, pressing the edges together firmly. Dab some water on the sharp corners on the side facing you.
Then lift the pasta and using your finger and thumbs bring the edges (at the widest part) towards each other so that the dampened corners stick together. Now you have a perfect tortelloni! This part gets easier after you’ve made a few. Place the tortelloni on a floured surface and when finished leave them for as long as possible. This way the pasta slowly dries a little, making them easier to handle when boiling. I only waited a hour but this was enough. Overnight is also fine as long as they are kept cool.
STEP FOUR – Making the sauce:
Whilst the pasta is drying off, you can make this super simple sauce that is served with tortelloni in nearly every restaurant in Bologna (see Meloncello review, where we had this). In the north of Italy, butter replaces olive oil in most cooking and this sauce is very rich, but then you’re not going to be making tortelloni every day, are you?
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan on a low heat, followed by the butter (the olive oil will stop the butter browning and burning, which will ruin the flavours). Add the tomato concentrate and stir in. Finely chop the fresh tomatoes and add to the pan, stirring them through. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. After a minute or two, add a little water to the pan to help open up the sauce, then keep stirring it on a low heat until you have a nicely blended tomato sauce with little chunks of fresh tomato.
You can turn the heat off and leave this until you are ready to cook the tortelloni.
STEP FIVE – Boiling the tortelloni:
In a large pan of salted boiling water, add the tortelloni and bring to the boil again. The pasta will start to float. Once the water has boiled again, it only takes 2 minutes to cook through. Lift the tortelloni out of the water with a spoon into a colander or other strainer. Don’t pour out the whole saucepan at once like normal pasta or they will be crushed. The steaming pasta will keep cooking once strained and even in the bowl, so 2-3 minutes is the maximum you should cook them for.
STEP SIX – Serving the tortelloni:
Place six or seven of the tortelloni in a shallow bowl, and spoon over the heated tomato sauce, just enough to cover the top but not to drown them.
Grind some more black pepper, sprinkle Parmesan on top and enjoy the most amazing taste. First you get the sweet butter tomatoes, then the milky ricotta, then the spicy nutmeg aftertaste.
Tip One: Next time I’ll cut squares. Not only does this result in the typical little points like nuns’ hats that Bolognese tortelloni have, but it also means that less pasta is wasted, and more of these delicious parcels can be created!
Tip Two: You can also use this sauce on spaghetti or other dried pasta, add some fresh chopped oregano or marjoram and watch your guests marvel at how a simple tomato sauce can taste so incredible!