Pasta of the Week: Tortelli
I love shopping for kitchen gadgets. Last week’s project was to look for a new rolling pin. Much to my surprise, my favorite shops were either sold out of rolling pins or had a very limited stock. This news made me happy because I realize that people are probably making food from scratch.
In this time of advanced technology, smart phones, and hours spent in front of screens, I believe it is good for our souls to use our hands and create the things our grandparents used to make.
So, this week’s pasta dish is a glorious example of this concept; a traditional Italian hand-rolled, stuffed pasta called Tortelli. I learned this technique from my friend Stefania who lives in the Chianti region near Florence. She gives cooking classes and is very passionate about wholesome, healthy food and simple ingredients. In Emilia-Romagna where she was raised, at Christmas time, they make fresh Tortelli stuffed with ricotta, spinach, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Here is the recipe I learned from Stefania. If you find yourself in Florence and are looking for a way to spend an afternoon, take an Italian cooking class with Stefania Fermi at Cooking at Home with Style.
Spinach and Ricotta Tortelli for Christmas
Enjoy these delicious stuffed Tortelli at Christmas or anytime.
Notes to the cook: For instructions on making and rolling fresh pasta dough, please click here.
For Tortelli Pasta
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup cooked spinach, chopped- fresh or frozen – (1/2 lb fresh spinach makes 1/2 cup of cooked spinach)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
5 – 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1. To make pasta dough, dump the flour onto the middle of a large wooden board and make a well in the center. Add the two eggs to the well and mix with a fork while incorporating the flour with the eggs until completely mixed. Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes until it is soft and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes. When ready, roll to 1/16 inch thickness.
2. Cut rolled pasta into 2 1/2 in squares
3. Make the filling: Mix spinach, ricotta, parmesan, basil, lemon zest, and salt until uniform in color.
4. Lay all of your pasta squares out on a floured wooden board.
5. Place 1 teaspoon of filling into the corner of each square.
6. Roll tortelli shape.
7. Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a gentle boil.
8. While waiting for the water to boil, melt butter in a skillet on very low heat. Add sage leaves to melted butter and stir for one minute. Should be just fragrant. Remove from heat.
9. When water begins to boil, carefully drop Tortelli into boiling water one by one. If they get too overcrowded, they might break apart, so cook them in two batches.
10. After about 2 minutes Tortelli will rise to the top. Cook for 2 minutes longer.
11. Using a slotted spoon or small sieve, carefully remove Tortelli, let them drain a bit and then place on a serving platter. Drizzle with butter and sage sauce.
Enjoy this lovely treat. You worked hard and deserve much praise!