The Tortelloni Project – Tortelloni 101 – final grade B

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Tortelloni is in the same shape of tortellini, but only larger. I gorged on them fervently when I was in Italy.
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They are mostly popular in the Emilia-Romagna Region, and are stuffed with many different combinations; spinach and ricotta, veal and mortadella, pumpkin, or Swiss chard. They are usually served with the traditional ragu, or the way I ate them, with butter and sage leaves (see below photos). –Pumpkin stuffed Tortelloni are served with a gorgonzola sauce…. (note to self: make pumpkin tortelloni with gorgonzola sauce immediately!)
cropped-italy.jpg (pictured here are the tortellini I stalked in Bologna)

The Tortelloni I ate in Italy were homemade by Gio’s grandmother, Pina.  They were light,  feathery and stuffed with ricotta, spinach and a touch of nutmeg.

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While in Italy I became shamelessly addicted to Tortelloni. I have lost family and friends over my addiction and I have no intention of quitting.  Tortelloni will always come before loved ones and I keep a stash of them under my bed.  So there.
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Today I attempted to make them like Pina, ha ha ha. Not a chance. I gave myself an “A” for effort and a “B” for the final project because they were no way as good as the ones Pina made, not even close to the flavor or texture, but I did buy an expensive ricotta at Wholefoods (didn’t make my own this time) and that helped bring their flavor up a notch. Don’t get me wrong, they came out good, and my dinner guests loved them, but when you’ve had the best, how can you possibly compare?
aaaababababtorttaa (These are the Tortelloni I had in Pavullo, oh my God, take me back.)

I am not going to give a straight recipe here because most of you can find a good pasta dough recipe on line. –It is basically eggs, flour and semolina.

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The filling I used today was ricotta and chopped spinach. Make sure you squeeze all the water out of the spinach and then chop it fine. After mixing it with the ricotta add nutmeg. Place the mixture inside a sieve and let it drain for an hour or so, you want the ricotta and spinach mixture to be as dry as possible. That’s all you do for this filling.tort32

The other filling I made was the traditional veal and mortadella found in Bologna. I sautéed ground veal with nutmeg, salt and pepper and finished off with white wine and reduced it. I then ground it in the food processor with chunks of mortadella. I added one egg, a touch of parmesan and mixed, then chilled it.
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The forming of the Tortelloni is a process and is best shown in the following photos.

Roll out the dough thin (not too thin) and cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Place small dabs of your filling inside the center of the square and bring one corner to the other and form a triangle and secure by pinching down firmly. You might need to use a bit of water on the edges if your dough is dry. Bring the two points together as if wrapping it around your finger and pinch. Fold back the point at the top.

They are fun to make, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be whipping them out as quickly as a resident of some beautiful town in the Emilia-Romagna region.

tort28tort24tort17tort271tortatort7atort3atort6atort5atort4atort8atort10atort11tort18tort16Browned butter with sage

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About johncpicardi

Welcome to my blog. I am the author of the novel Oliver Pepper's Pickle and the published plays The Sweepers and Seven Rabbits on a Pole, both plays have been produced off Broadway and around the US. I am a graduate of Johnson & Wales University where I majored in Culinary arts. I have a BA from The University of Massachusetts and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. This blog is about food and food memories and every other fantastic and scrumptious thing to do with it. My appetite and passion for food is large and runs deep, sometimes its indulgent and wild and other times wholesome and simple, often humorous and always immeasurable. I grew up outside of Boston and spent many hours of my childhood in front of the TV watching Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) and Julia Child prepare all kinds of luscious meals that would make my mouth water. Other days I’d follow my mother and two grandmothers around their simple, tidy kitchens as they busily prepared hearty fragrant meals, hand-cut pastas, preserved fruits and vegetables, baked yeasty breads, spicy cookies and frosted lopsided cakes. I was there by their side asking questions and helping where needed and there were plenty of times I was ordered to leave if I was in their way. It was a given that by the time I graduated High School I would be going off to Johnson & Wales University to study Culinary Arts. Those years were fine and good. I loved the hands on creativeness of cooking whether it be the simple lesson of washing a sink full of colorful salad greens, trussing a chicken or peeling a gorgeous carrot or the complicated lessons of making a French Country Pate or Julia Child’s Cassoulet or making Brioche, it all thrilled me and my dream had arrived!
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16 Responses to The Tortelloni Project – Tortelloni 101 – final grade B

  1. I tried tortelloni once but I ended up just doing ravioli instead because I found the process very time consuming. I am totally digging your fillling though, with the mortadella. Yum!

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    • johncpicardi says:

      I think they are easier than ravioli, once you get the hang of it, you need to drink some wine while you do it.
      John

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      • I have a ravioli cutter that does 12 at a time. When I use the hand cutters or do each by hand, I always end up losing concentration. I see a shiny object and suddenly, it s all over. Wine might help. Or.. it might not. Either way I am sure it will taste good. 😀

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      • johncpicardi says:

        LOL it all taste the same right. LOL

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  2. mitchelljames says:

    When I read your posts, because of the time difference, I am usually at work having a snack or lunch, and it always puts my meal to shame! Beautiful food and pictures – the tortelloni likes to die for! Great stuff 🙂

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  3. Oh my God. I think I might die if I don’t make these today. And I actually have the day off, other than toddler duty. My husband is the main cook here (he’s just so good at it!!), but you make these look very doable (and I’m usually the pasta and pie crust maker here, but I haven’t done either in a shamefully long time). I have spinach and basil in the garden that want me to use them, so I might just try making these with a pesto sauce… My husband will be amazed that I threw something more creative than a tater tot hotdish together… =) I’ll follow your advice to the letter and drink wine while making it.

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    • johncpicardi says:

      This is great! Thank you for writing back and I wish you luck, they are fun to make! take photos and let me know how you make out! John 🙂

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      • Dear John, I flaked out. I’m making pesto and homemade bread today. Toddler didn’t want me to take the time for pretty pasta today (most time consuming part being driving 20 min one way to the nearest store with ricotta – I am in the middle of nowhere here). I will pick up ricotta and try to make your luscious recipe before the week is up. I will share with you the results. Thank you – you inspired me to make something delicious with what I had available tonight and my husband will be pleased.

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      • johncpicardi says:

        Don’t worry you’ll get it to it 🙂 let me now! J

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  4. Awesome … now who is the ambitious pasta maker/! lol They do look like a lot of work and I would give you an A+ for effortl! Since I didn’t taste them I can’t grade you on that but they look wonderful – both fillings sound delicious. One of my favorite fillings for ravioli is butternut squash drizzled with brown butter sage … mmmmm so good! I made pasta this weekend too … something I’ve never made or tasted before … I’ll try to get it posted this week.

    BTW, I like your new profile pic! Have a great day John P the pasta maker. 🙂

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    • johncpicardi says:

      Well thank you! — I want to make pasta stuffed with pumpkin next, I will wait until the fall. I am looking forward to your new post. I have to admit while making the tortelloni I was thinking “I wonder what the pasta princess is going to think of this” ….haha hahah I was really! —They were fun to make…. I wonder if I can get the same pumpkin here like they had in Italy they were a deeper orange almost reddish…hmmmm I think I know of a place… John

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  5. Oh, God. I’ve had pumpkin stuffed ravioli, and they are my favorite. But I have never — never ever — had pumpkin tortelloni/tortellini/ravioli in gorgonzola sauce. I need a moment. LOL It all looks fabu. I have got to stop coming over here.

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    • johncpicardi says:

      Oh please, you have to come back, you’d be missed! LOL moderation Is key… not that I would know what that means…

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  6. competentkitchen says:

    I have never tried to make tortellini before and this just inspired me to do so (that’s what I can do with that 25lb bag of flour). I honestly don’t care for the store ricotta but I have never tried the real stuff in Italy. Maybe someday. I also need to try to make my own but I think we lack the correct breed of cows to make this? I always have to add things to ricotta to make the flavor and texture better. I like sharp cheddar, fontina, goat’s milk gouda, parmesan, and mozzarella. I also hate buying the pre-shredded options of cheeses. I guess it makes sense if you are making a cheese sauce since many brands use corn starch to coat the cheese (No starch needed!). I much prefer to buy the blocks and shred it up myself. Have you tried making these with a combination of cheeses to add to the overall flavor? If you would or did, what types would you prefer to add?

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    • johncpicardi says:

      I only made them with ricotta and parmesan before… I think I would use fontina if I had to chose one. They are pretty fun to make. If you make your own ricotta you have to use whole milk. And I would guess the cows are better in Italy, everything is better in Italy… LOL thanks for coming by an come again! John

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