A large platter of home-made filled pasta, such as ravioli, tortelli and cannelloni, is always on offer at the Italian Christmas table. Any pasta that is home-made requires that extra amount of labour in the kitchen, and Christmas is the perfect occasion to show your love for friends and family by treating them with the fruits of your work. Or, you can share the load and create a beeline of helpers to roll, fill and shape these delectable nuggets. If the idea of making your own pasta still scares you, you can use store bough egg wanton wrappers. I won’t judge! You will need about 60 squares. Tortelli with roasted pumpkin and cinnamon, topped with crushed amaretti cookies have been on my family Christmas eve table for as long as I can remember. Yes, this is a laborious dish to prepare, so make sure you are armed with plenty of love, dedication and, most importantly, Christmas spirit!
For the dough (serves 4-6)
400 gr (3- 1/2 cups) of 00 flour
a pinch of salt
For the filling
500 gr (1 pound) of pumpkin (skin on), cut up into chunks
4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, skin on
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
salt and pepper for seasoning
3-4 sage leaves
100 gr (1 cup) of breadcrumbs
50 gr (1/2 cup) of grated parmesan
For the sauce
120 gr (1/2 cup) of butter
8-10 sage leaves
a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
8-10 crunchy amaretti cookies (from Italian delis)
(You can make the filling up to 1-2 days as head and keep it in the fridge)
1. Preheat the oven to 200 C, 390 F
2. Place the cut up pumpkin in an oven tray lined with baking paper, season with oil, cinnamon, salt and pepper, scatter the garlic and the sage leaves and bake for 45-50 minutes or until soft
3. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh, squeeze the garlic out of its skin and pulse in a food processor until smooth. Add the breadcrumbs, the parmesan, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. At this point I always like to add a little extra cinnamon, but it it entirely up to you to do so or not.
4. Rest the filling in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
To make the dough:
1. Place eggs, flour and salt in a food processor fitted with blades and pulse for 10-12 times or until the mixture resemble wet sand.
2. Tip the mixture onto a floured surface, press it together with your hands and knead it for a few minutes or until smooth
3. Cover the dough with plastic film and rest for 30 minutes to relax the gluten
4. Cut the rested dough into quarters. Work with one piece at a time and keep the rest wrapped in plastic film to prevent it from drying out. Flatten the piece of dough with the palm of your hand, then pass it through the machine’s widest setting three or four times, folding the dough into three each time. Continue passing the dough, each time through a thinner setting, until you get to the second-last setting or the sheet is roughly 2.5 mm thick
5. Dust your working bench with semolina, lay the long sheets of pasta onto it then dot them half way through with one teaspoon of the filling. Make sure to leave about 3 cm between each dollop.
6. Brush around filling with water to moisten. Fold sheet over; press down to seal.
7. Press around each mound to get rid of air bubbles (or the tortelli may burst when you cook them)
8. Cut into 4×4 cm squares with a pastry wheel. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
9. Lay the tortelli onto a platter dusted with semolina and try not to over lap them
10. You can cook the Tortelli straight away or freeze them for up to two weeks.
To assemble the dish
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil
2. In the meantime, brown the butter with sage and a pinch of salt in a large heavy-based pan until the butter is a pale caramel color and the sage is crispy
3. Cook the Tortelli for 2-3 minutes or until ready and still nicely al dente
4. Using a slotted spoon, lift them from the water and drop them onto the brown butter pan and sautee for 2-3 minutes or until all the torelli are nicely coated and slightly caramelized. Season them with freshly ground black pepper
5. Arrange the tortelli onto a large serving platter and top them with the fried sage and the crushed amaretti cookies. Serve hot!
Silvia’s Cucina is on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram
Silvia’s Cucina the cookbook is now available in stores and online!