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    Tortelli Di Zucca Al Burro

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    Tortelli Di Zucca Al Burro

    Pumpkin-filled ravioli, very light and delicate, sauced with sage-infused butter, just as they make them in Emilia Romagna, the fertile region to the south of the Veneto and the north of Tuscany. The area - dairy-country famous for the excellence of its pork products as well as its parmesan and balsamic vinegar from Modena - has a reputation for keeping the most sumptuous table in all Italy. The inclusion of amaretti gives the filling a slightly crunchy texture, while the mostarda di Cremona (a curiously medieval preparation of fruits in a clear syrup spiced with mustard seeds) adds both heat and sweetness. The mostarda can be replaced with one tablespoon of crystallised peel, one tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of grain-mustard. Pumpkin is the traditional filling, but nutty little acorn squash is even better.

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients

    • 300g bread flour
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • fine-ground semolina for dusting
    • The stuffing
    • 500g pumpkin or squash, skinned, deseeded and cubed
    • 2 tablespoons mostarda di Cremona
    • 2-3 amaretti biscuits, crushed
    • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
    • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
    • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
    • 2 tablespoons parmesan, freshly grated
    • To serve
    • Parmesan for grating
    • 75g unsalted butter
    • 3-4 sage leaves

    Method

    1. Make the pasta first. Mix the flour and salt together in a roomy bowl. Crack the eggs into a well in the middle, adding the oil. Work the flour together in a circular movement with your hand, adding enough water to create a softish dough; if you need to dry it out a little, dust your hands with a little more flour. Knead the dough thoroughly - it is best to allow yourself at least 10 minutes for this task - until it is perfectly smooth and elastic. Lightly oil the dough ball (use the palm of your hand, moistened with a little oil - very sensual), drop it into a plastic bag and leave to rest for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
    2. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. Roast the pumpkin or squash on a baking tray for about 30 minutes, until the flesh is perfectly tender.
    3. Skin and process or mash to a purée. Place to one side to cool, while you roll the pasta.
    4. Divide the pasta dough in half, form each piece into a ball and dust with semolina before rolling out into two strips equal in length and width, and thin enough to read a newspaper through (the thinner the pasta, the lighter the tortelli). Alternatively, feed the dough through a pasta-roller, gradually decreasing the settings until you achieve the desired transparency.
    5. Mix the puréed squash with the mustard (chop the fruit small and include a little of the syrup), and work in the remaining stuffing ingredients. Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture about 8cm apart on one of the pasta sheets. Brush between the piles with a little water, cover with the remaining sheet, and press between the little mounds to seal. If you have a lot of stuffing left over, you haven't rolled the pasta thinly enough - better luck next time. Cut with a pastry wheel or a sharp knife to give about 2 dozen plump little pillows.
    6. Bring to the boil a large pan of well-salted water - Italians usually add the salt with a flourish once the water has boiled, which creates an impressive display of bubbles. Slip in the tortelli in small batches, as many as will cover the surface. Allow them just 2-3 minutes - they will bob to the surface as soon as they're done. Remove from the pan with a draining spoon and place into a warm dish trickled with a little oil.
    7. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan and then add the sage. Continue to heat until the butter sizzles and turns golden, but don't let it brown. Drizzle the tortelli with the hot butter and serve. Extra parmesan can be added at the table if desired.

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