So you’ve been seeing my posts and now you’re inspired to make tortellini. You’re stressing about the undertaking but then you keep reading my posts about how easy and good it is! Deep breath. You can do this.
This will take a few tools:
- You’re going to need a pasta machine. OK, well I guess in you’re super skilled you can roll the dough out manually but unless you’re a 70 year old Italian grandmother who has been doing it since you were a wee girl I would say stick with the machine. There are lots of options on the market but my preference is the Imperia Pasta Maker Machine (150).
- You’ll need a round cookie cutter. However if you don’t have one you can cut squares the final shape will just be slightly different.
- A disposable piping bag. You can just use spoons if you want to but I find that really messy and hard to control.
- A food processor. Again if you don’t have one you can do this by hand but it just takes more elbow grease.
- Cookie Sheets, something to place the shaped pasta on that can go into the freezer.
- Parchment paper so the pasta doesn’t stick to the cookie sheets.
- A fry pan large enough to sauté the butternut squash. I like non-stick.
- A saucepan big enough to heat the broth and another big enough to boil your pasta.
- A good sharp chefs knife. Any knife you prefer will work but I like a chefs knife for this recipe.
- Most importantly a digital scale.
If you’re going to be making the parmesan broth as well you will need:
- A 6-quart stockpot, if not larger. (Even better yet would be the Breville Fast Slow Pro. If you think you could get into making your own stocks, soups, rice, cooked grains, beans and more this is a worth while investment that is only about $150.)
- And to make prepping all your veggies easier I love my benriner.
- A fine mesh strainer to strain out all the solids.
- A large bowl to strain the stock into.
Now let’s get shopping.
For the Parmesan Broth from scratch you will need:
- Grapeseed or Olive Oil
- Leeks, about a pound
- Carrots, half a pound
- 1 White Onion
- 1 small carton of Button Mushrooms
- 1 Fennel Head
- A couple ribs of Celery
- Fresh Thyme
- Bay Leaves
If you don’t want to make this from scratch then you will need:
- 2 liters of vegetable broth.
Either way you will still need:
- Parmesan with it’s rind still on
- Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley
For the tortellini:
- 3 Eggs
- About a pound of flour
- Ricotta Cheese (15 ounce tub)
- 1 ½ ounces of Parmesan (with the rind) and more for grading
- 1 ½ ounces of Asiago Cheese
For the Butternut Squash:
- 3 ½ pounds of Butternut Squash
- Two 5-ounce containers Diced Pancetta
- Pomegranate Molasses
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Fresh Thyme (If you’re not making the stock you’ll need to get this for the squash otherwise you should have enough from what you need for the stock.)
OK. I think we’re ready to get cooking!
Start with the stock as this can be done well in advance of making the actual dinner.
- Slice all your veggies finely. Conventional wisdom teaches your to touch chop veggies for stock but I have learned that the more surface area you create the more flavor molecules can get out of the ingredients and flavor your stock. I find this easiest on the benriner but you can do this with a knife just as well.
- OK, now add a couple tablespoons of oil to the pot of your choice, over moderate heat. Allow the oil to get fairly hot but not smoking. Add allyour veggies. Sweat them for about 5 minutes. Just long enough to start to get fragrant.
- Add 2 liters of cold tap water. That’s about 8 ½ cups.
- If done in a stockpot bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes, covered. If doing in the Fast Slow Pro, set to PRESSURE/STOCK and the time to 20 minutes.
- Now strain the stock by placing the fine mesh strainer over the large bowl. Depending on how clean of a stock you are wanting you can also line the strainer with a double layer of wet cheese cloth.
- Rinse out your stock pot. Pour the stock back into the stock pot and add the parmesan rind, garlic, thyme, and bay. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and add the parsley. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain out the solids.
- Let the stock cool if you are making the dinner at a later time. Stock holds up well in the freezer. Just make sure you make it so you know what kind it is and potion the stock out to a meaningful amount. I use 3 ounces of stock per serving. So you can either freeze the stock in ice cube trays and then quickly weigh the cubes into bags that work for what you’re doing. As an example it’s just my husband and I so I would have one bag or Tupperware container that had 6 ounces of stock.
Now to make the tortellini! This is going to be a lot more fun with a group of people but if you have a quite day you want to spend making these that works too.
Start with making the pasta. Yup! You’re going to actually make pasta. EVERYONE should know how to make pasta. It’s nothing more than flour and egg. These are two ingredients you should have on hand all the time anyways.
- Place the bowl of your food processor on the digital scale and zero it out using the “tare” button. Add 350 grams of flour and then your 3 eggs. I use extra-large eggs for everything. Then 1 tablespoon of room temperature water.
- Put the bowl on the base. Add the dough blade. Secure the lid and run just until it all comes together.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s no longer sticky. It should be slightly tacky. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
While the pasta is resting start on the filling.
- In the same food processor as the one you just made your dough in. Swap out the dough blade for the standard “s-blade”. Add your 1 ½ ounces of parmesan, 1 ½ ounces asiago, 10 grams of sage leaves, and 10 grams of thyme leaves and tender ends. Secure the lid and blitz until the mixture resembles coarse sand or tinny pebbles. Add the entire 15 ounce container of ricotta, a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked black pepper. Blitz until well combine. (I happened to have some roasted puréed pumpkin in my fridge so I threw that in as well.)
- Spoon you filling into a disposable piping bag. You’ll need to snip off the tip of the bag so there’s about a ¼ inch opening. If you don’t want to do the piping bag spoons will work as well.
Time to make the tortellini!
- To get ready to shape your tortellini set up your work area. First you’re going to need cookie sheets lined with parchment to place the shaped pasta on. Then you need a little bowl with water for your fingers. Lastly you’re going to want to lightly flour your work surface where you’ll be rolling out your dough.
- Unwrap your pasta and lop off about a ¼ of your dough. re-wrap the remaining pasta so it doesn’t dry out as you work. Mash the piece flat by pushing the heel of your hand into the dough on the counter. If your dough is tacky lightly dust with flour.
- Setting your pasta machine to it’s widest setting crank the dough through. Leaving it on the widest setting fold the dough in half and run through again. If it’s feeling sticky dust with flour again. Fold in thirds and rotate so the open end is what you’re feeding into the machine and roll through again… You want to do this because it is the final “kneading” of the dough so you get a smooth pasta. Now, lower by a notch and run through again. If at any point the dough is seeming sticky just lightly dust with flour. After each pass lower the width of the machine and run the dough through again until you’re to the lowest setting. This will be paper thin.
- Lay the dough out flat and cut out your circles or squares depending on what you chose. I do a 3-inch circle cutter. Take any scraps, roll them through again, and cut out more shapes until you have used as much of the dough as you can. Take the tiny remaining amount and add it to the pasta that’s wrapped in plastic and keep covered.
- Now because I like consistency and knowing my tortellini’s are going to close correctly, I lay 4 on my scale at once and pipe on the filling. For a 3 inch circle I have found that 5 grams of filling is all it can handle. Then place them back on the counter and repeat until all of them have filling piped or spooned on to them.
- This is the fun part and where a large group of friends or family can come in handy. Dip you finger into the bowl of water and run it around the outside edge. Fold the pasta in half. If you are doing squares you’ll want to make a triangle. Starting at the top or the point press the pasta closed and work your way to the corners making sure to work as much of the air out as possible as you get to the bottom. Then fold one side in to the center and then fold the opposite side over. Lay your shaped pasta on the parchment lined cookie sheet. These will stick so once they’re down on the parchment don’t plan on moving them until they have frozen.
- Keep doing this process until you have worked through all of the pasta. I found This recipe made 96 tortellinis. I put the left over cheese filling into a container to freeze for future use.
- Once your cookie sheet is full place it in the freezer and let them get hard and set. Then gently pull them off the parchment. Bag in meaningful quantities. I do 8 tortellinis per serving and since it’s just my husband and I they are bagged in 16’s. Then place back in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Whew! You thought this was going to be easy. Well it kinda is because you can make the broth any time. Heck it could be done months ahead. I like to keep my core stocks on hand at all times so when I do dinners like this I am not having to make the stock as well. Then the tortellini are just an afternoon of prep. If you have help you could knock out a ton of these and since you’re freezing them this will give you a tasty dinner in minutes…
One other thing I like to do is take my butternut squash, cut it in half, scoop out the guts, then cut off the skin. Lastly cube it and place it into a large airtight container. This can be done as much as a week in advance. (Before I put it into the container I place the container onto the scale and zero it out. I then fill it with the squash cubes and note the weight in grams. I then take a piece of masking tape and stick it on the lid with the total weight. So for example I have 40 ounces of squash. I know I need to make 8 servings. This means when I cook I weigh out 10 ounces to make a serving for both my husband and I.)
OK, time to make dinner. I worked all day and I want something tasty to eat.
- So I get my stock out of the freezer and pop the 6 ounces into a small saucepan. Turn the burner on medium low and cover.
- Set up another saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. (This is for the pasta.)
- I get my fry pan and add a little oil (grapeseed or EVO) warm the pan over moderate heat and then add 56 grams of pancetta, 6-8 sage leaves, and sauté.Once the pancetta has released most of its fat add the 10 ounces of squash. Give it a good stir and spread out the squash so it’s a single layer. Cover and let cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the frozen tortellini to the boiling water stirring occasionally making sure they don’t stick to the bottom. You’ll know they are done when they float.
- Uncover the squash and give a good stir. You should have some caramelization happening. Add a tablespoon of balsamic, a table spoon of oil, and a teaspoon of the pomegranate molasses. This is all an estimate but you can totally eyeball it if you want. Then give it a good stir. Give it a good pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Stir again. Spread it out to a single layer and layer the heat to about medium or medium low.
- Carefully strain out your tortellini and put them into the bowls you are serving in. Pour in the broth. (I do this on a scale to ensure I get 3 ounces in each bowl.) Then remove the squash from the heat and split between the two bowls. Finish by topping with grated cheese.
This can go even a little smoother if one person is on the pasta and broth and the other is working on the squash. It all goes very quickly.