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Stuffed Pastas - Tortelli, Ravioli & Cappelletti


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#1 eGCI Team

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Posted 29 March 2004 - 12:04 AM

Stuffed Pastas - Part Two: Tortelli, Ravioli & Cappelletti

by Moby Pomerance

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Tortelli di Fava (Tortelli of broad beans, pecorino)

This recipe is based on the wonderful Italian delicacy of taking the first Spring fava or broad beans, and eating them with a good pecorino, a little oil, maybe a squeeze of lemon. If you can’t find young favas, feel free to use regular ones – just blanch them slightly longer until soft, and then pop them out of their skins.

There’s something odd about favas (or broad beans as we call them in the UK). During my “death before eating anything green” phase (founding member, political movement, aged 6), I wouldn't have touched them. Maybe that’s what I’m reacting to now – I can’t get enough. This recipe has converted several people into fava bean fanatics. Sometimes I make twice as much filling, and just leave the rest in the fridge (before I add the egg). It always disappears. People just eat it with a spoon. Favas, good oil, pecorino, and lemon juice. It’s Spring time.

The Filling

2 - 2 1/2 cups fava or broad beans, podded
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup/ 1 handful grated pecorino romano
1-2 tablespoons your best olive oil
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper
mounded tablespoon of ricotta (optional)

The Tortelli (as above)

90g/6 tablespoons good unsalted butter
1 recipe pasta dough
extra parmagiano or pecorino for grating
small bunch fresh sage
semolina for sprinkling

In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the fava beans for 2-4 minutes, depending on the size and age, until soft enough to pierce without much resistance. Reserving half a cup of the blanching water, drain, and run under cold water, or place in bowl of ice-water until cool. Then, one at a time, pop them out of their skins, and set on a paper towel to dry.

Place these in a food processor with the oil, 1-2 tablespoons of the blanching water, and the juice from half a lemon. Blitz, until it starts to become smooth. You might need to scrape down the sides. Add the cheese (and ricotta, if using), and blitz again until smooth. It should have the texture, roughly, of hummus. Taste for seasoning, and adjust. You might want another squeeze of lemon or more cheese if you feel the mixture is a little wet. Add the egg yolk, and whiz until combined.
Transfer to a bowl, and place in the fridge for 20 minutes while you roll out the dough, then proceed as with the tortelli recipe in part one of this course.

Serve with butter, sage, and sprinkle with parmagiano or additional pecorino.


Potbelly Ravioli of potato, arugula (rocket), lemon, pecorino

This is a great style of pasta to serve as a starter, or first course. They’re ridiculously big, but people enjoy them. And you only need one or two per person. Also, they’re a good way to get the kids involved, as there’s nothing really delicate in their construction. And, as with all pasta, almost all mistakes are edible!
(N.B. the Italian word Arucola translates in the US to Arugula, and in the UK to Rocket.)

For the Filling

2 good sized potatoes (idaho, if you’re in the US – desiree or king edward in the UK)
100g/3 1/2oz arugula – cleaned and large stems removed
a little grating of nutmeg
1 handful grated pecorino
1 lemon
1 clove garlic - sliced
2 or 3 tablespoons good olive oil
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk


For the Pasta

1/2 recipe of Fresh Pasta
parmagiano or pecorino to sprinkle
semolina for dusting
90g/6 tablespoons good unsalted butter

Put the potatoes, unpeeled, in a pot of cold water, and bring to the boil. Leave for 20-30 minutes, until soft, and drain. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes, and run through a potato ricer, or mash.

During this, sauté the garlic in the oil on a low/med heat until softened – 2-3 minutes. Add the arugula (rocket) and wilt, stirring until it starts to lose its water. Place a lid on, turn the heat down, and leave for 3-4 minutes. Remove lid, and sauté the mixture until most of the liquid is gone. Season with salt and pepper to taste, a grating of nutmeg, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and remove from heat to cool. If you like, you can place this in a food processor to semi-puree, but I often just roughly chop it on a board.

Combine potato, arugula mixture, pecorino, and stir together. Test for seasoning and adjust. You might like to add a couple of glugs of good olive oil, and/or a squeeze of lemon, for taste. The mixture should be full of flavour. Finally, add the egg yolk, mix it in well, cover, and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Roll out the pasta to the setting appropriate to your machine, and cut into 6 inch lengths.
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Place a large tablespoon amount of filling in the middle of a section, moisten around the edges, and place another section on top.
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Using your hand, make sure there’s no air in the filling; seal well.
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Using a knife, trim the edges to make them square, and proceed to the next one.
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Poach in simmering water for 3-5 minutes (depending on how dry the pasta is). Serve one as a starter, or three or four as a main – sprinkled with parmagiano, black pepper, and melted butter.
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Variations: Instead of arugula, you could add slices of prosciutto, or cooked pancetta.


Cappelletti in Brodo (Small hats in broth)

This dish, traditionally part of a New Year’s Eve, or Christmas Eve feast, is often the precursor to a Bollito Misto (less charmingly translated as ‘Mixed Boil’). The brodo, or broth, used in the recipe is made from the different meats, poultry, calf’s tongue, and cotechino (a kind of sausage), which are then served afterwards as part of a multi-course meal. As a quick alternative, you can use good home-made chicken broth. (Of course you could use shop-bought; but after going to all that trouble to make the tortellini, why would you want to?)

Warning: This dish is best made by a family with many small fingers! As you get more experience, you’ll be able to do more. Also, if you wanted to take this in a slightly different direction, instead of chicken, you could use some pork shoulder or belly, or turkey. Don’t be too worried about removing fat – we’re making a farce or stuffing here, so any negligible fat will equal flavour!

The Filling:
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100g / 3 1/2oz sliced prosciutto (or prosciutto hock, chopped roughly)
100g / 3 1/2 oz mortadella
150g / 5 oz chicken breast or thigh (deboned, skin removed)
30g / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter.
Half a medium onion, chopped fine
1 cup/handful grated parmagiano (to taste)
125ml / 1/2 cup of white wine
1 egg
salt and pepper
Nutmeg (grated fresh – optional)

The Cappelletti:
1 quantity fresh pasta
3 litres/quarts chicken broth
1 cup semolina flour for dusting
Parmagiano for sprinkling

Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces. Heat a sauté pan over a medium flame. Add the butter, and when the foam begins to subside, add the chicken and onion. Sauté, stirring regularly, until the chicken is cooked through, and the onion is softened. Raise the heat, add the wine, and deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits on the bottom until the wine has almost evaporated. Remove pan from heat.
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Cut the mortadella and prosciutto into small pieces approximately the same size, and place in the bowl of a food processor. When cool, add the chicken mixture, and process until relatively smooth. Add half the cheese, and process again.
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Taste – now is the time to adjust the seasoning. You can always add more cheese if it’s not salty enough. Add the egg, and pulse until blended. Add a few gratings of nutmeg if you like. Remove the stuffing to a bowl, cover, and place in the fridge for twenty minutes.
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Roll the pasta out to the thinnest setting (Imperia – or No. 8 on the Atlas). It is easier to work with one sheet of pasta at a time, as you need it to be flexible. If it starts to dry out, a little drop of water on each cappelletti will help it to seal.

Using a knife or roller, cut each sheet into approximately 1 1/2” squares.
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Using a couple of spoons, place a small nub of filling on each square (I do 10 or 15 at a time).
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Take each square of pasta, and fold it in two, pressing the opposite corners together (making a triangle). Then take the two corners along the long edge, and press them together. Finally, take the remaining corner, and bend it back.
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When you finish one sheet of pasta, roll out the next one and continue.
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Alternatively, marry a good man or woman, have plenty of children, and train them to do it while you drink a glass of wine and grow a moustache.

NOTE: Don't lay these on a floured tray. As you're cooking them in broth, the extra flour will - as Adam Balic points out - turn into wall-paper paste. Best to use them soonish after making them. If you want you can par-boil them for a minute, then quickly rinse them under cold water, drain well, and drizzle with a little oil to finish cooking later. These should hold for a few hours.

To Cook: Place the chicken stock in a pot onto boil. Season to taste. Add the cappelletti, lower heat, 5-10 minutes, depending on how dry they are.
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When cooked, ladle some broth and cappelletti into a bowl, sprinkle with a little parmagiano, and serve.
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Variations: Instead of the Cappelletti, use a circular cutter, and make classic Tortellini. To some, this pasta has mythic origins. In Bologna they are sometimes referred to as umbillichi sacri or “sacred navels,” after the story of Venus staying at the Inn. Apparently the inn-keeper, so entranced with her beauty, spied through the key hole but could only see her navel. Wasting no time, he raced downstairs and created this pasta.
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Serve with a thick ragu; or add to a béchamel/cheese sauce, sprinkle with parmagiano, and bake in the oven. Or just boil,
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and serve with a spicy tomato sauce -
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Ask your questions about this course here.

Part three of this course, which covers pansotti, tortelloni and raviolo will be published Wednesday March 31.