I’ve always wanted to learn how to make tortellini and I recently got a hands on lesson from my friend Giovanni Lugli. Giovanni, who’s from the small town of Carpi in northern Italy, walked me through the entire process using the same basic recipe that his mother uses. In fact, he actually did a video chat with her on a few key issues when we started. Giovanni’s original recipe uses a few things that aren’t as easy to find in the average grocery store (like extra fine milled flour and amaretto cookies), so I’ve modified this version a bit to make it more accessible. There are a number of steps and a few techniques that you may have to practice a bit to master, but the effort is well worth it. The final dish is an amazing combination of pumpkin, ginger, nutmeg and parmesan cheese stuffed pasta tossed in melted butter and fresh sage.
makes 4-6 first course sevings
2 cu All Purpose Flour, plus 2 tablespoons
3 lg Eggs, beaten together
1 cu Canned Pure Pumpkin
1 cu Ground Gingersnap Cookies
1/2 cu Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
3 tbl Unsalted Butter
3-4 lg Sage Leaves, chiffonade
2-3 tbl Additional Grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
Pastry crimper or pizza cutter
Large flat work surface
Prepare pasta by placing flour in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly pour in beaten egg. Run processor until mixture is uniform in color and begins to come together (it may not fully incorporate into a ball). Remove all the ingredients from the processor and combine them into a dough ball. Knead the dough for about 2-3 minutes. Wrap it in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the filling by combining pumpkin, gingersnap crumbs, parmesan cheese and nutmeg in a bowl. (note: to make the crumbs simply run gingersnap cookes through a food processor). For ease of portioning out the filling, transfer the mixture to a sealable plastic bag and cut a 1/4” opening in one of the corners.
After 30 minutes, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and work with only one portion at a time. Keep other portions wrapped in plastic until you’re ready to use them.
Lightly flour your work surface and attach your pasta maker to the counter top alongside (if that’s the style pasta maker that you have). Flatten out the dough to about a 3" x 5" rectangle and, with your pasta maker on the widest setting, run it through. Fold the dough in half, onto itself, and run it through again. Then, reduce the setting by one notch and run the dough through again, drawing it out onto your lightly floured work surface. Don’t fold it this time. As you continue to work the dough through the pasta maker, let the same side touch the floured work surface…the clean side with seal better if it isn’t floured. Continue the process of reducing the setting on the paster maker one notch at a time until you’re reached the second to last setting. That will be your final thickness. Run the dough through a second time on that same setting. The dough should be as wide as your pasta maker rollers and roughly 30” long (or longer).
Lay the dough completely flat on your work surface. Using the crimping tool, square off each end. Add the scraps to the unused dough. Cut a line down the middle lengthwise and then cross cut the dough to form a series of squares (about 2 1/2” wide and tall). Using the filling bag, squeeze about 1 teaspoon onto each square. If your pasta is a bit dry, dip your index finger in water and run a line along two edges. Pull up one corner over the filling to the opposite corner and then seal the sides, forming a triangle. Press the sides together well to be sure the filing is completely sealed inside. The triangle will have a top corner and two side corners. Take one side corner between your thumb and index finger. With your free hand, wrap the other side corner around your finger and on top of the first corner. Squeeze the two corners together and slide the tortellini off your finger and onto your floured board. You can shape it a bit by pushing the filling into the space formed by your finger. Repeat with the remaining squares. Then, repeat the entire process with the remaining dough portions.
At this point, you can cook the tortellini immediately or you can place them on a lightly floured baking sheet and freeze them for about 20 minutes. Then, transfer them to a plastic bag or container and keep them frozen until ready to serve.
To cook the tortellini, bring a large pot of water to a LOW boil. Add a bit of salt and olive oil to the water. Add the tortellini and boil them for about 3 minutes if they are fresh or about 5-6 minutes if they are frozen. While they are cooking, heat the butter in a saucepan over very low heat until just melted and add the sage. Lift the tortellini from the water with a hand strainer. Drain them and place them in either a large bowl or individual serving bowls. Add melted butter and sage. Toss and serve with a bit of parmesan cheese on top.