Tortelli di Zucca. Pumpkin Tortelli Recipe
My great granny Elsa was famous for her tortelli di zucca. She used to roll the pasta sheet so thin, and it was so elastic, that I remember seeing it falling down the table like a cloth. It would not stretch, not break. She would roll it for hours, until it was all perfectly even.
On the filling though, I have no recollection whatsoever. I was too little to appreciate the complex flavours of these tortelli, but legends have been told about them. Apparently her secret was in the ability to choose the perfect pumpkin, and then balance the flavour with the rest of the ingredients. Unfortunately, she's no longer around for me to investigate and watch every move, and her recipe is lost forever.
I have been attempting these tortelli a few times now, and they are not easy. I mean the procedure is, but the balance of the ingredients is what is hard to get right. Pumpkin and amaretti are sweet, parmesan adds a bit of saltiness, and then you have the apple mustard that should give a hint of spiciness and bring all the other ingredients together.
Of course, if one of the above is not right, then the sweetness takes over. I'm going to try again, and again, until I get the perfect tortello, but until then I would be delighted if you decide to experiment with me :)
Ingredients for 2 people
For the fresh pasta
200g of Pasta Flour
For the filing
500g Pumpkin - I used a Kent pumpkin, also called Japanese or Kabocha. Try pick one that is considered dry-flesh.
5 Amaretti biscuits
50g Grated Parmesan
50g Apple Mostarda
Grated Nutmeg - to taste
Salt - to taste
Freshly Ground Pepper - to taste
2 Fresh Sage Leaves
Parmesan to serve
Preheat the oven at 160°C. Cut the pumpkin in big chunks and place on a roasting tin in the oven for 45min or until tender. Better at lower temperature, for longer, this will avoid any burnt edges.
Meanwhile, make the pasta dough. On a clean surface, make a volcano shape with the flour and crack the eggs inside it. Beat the eggs with the fork, incorporating the flour a little at the time, then when you see lumps forming, continue with your hands until you get a smooth elastic ball. Cover with some cling film, and let rest for at least an hour.
Check the pumpkin, and when tender, remove and let cool. If you see water, then discard it and pat dry the pumpkin. In a blender, purée the pumpkin until smooth.
Crumble the amaretti and add to the pumpkin, together with the grated parmesan and the fruit mustard. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover and set aside.
Start rolling your pasta dough. If you have a machine, then keep going until the second to last setting. Here, I went to the last one and the dough was a little thin, allowing some to break during boiling. The second to last is more than fine.
Use a ravioli cutter (8cm) or a glass and a sharp knife to cut the edge. Cut as many circles to finish the pasta. With a teaspoon, place the mix on the circles, then fold to create a half moon. Press the edges together, make sure you don't leave any bubble of air inside the tortello, and bring the corner to the front to close them together.
Bring abundant water to the boil. In the meantime, in a large pan at low-medium heat, melt the butter with fresh sage leaves. Cook the tortelli until they float to the surface, and then drain and transfer to the pan. Gently toss for a minute, until all tortelli are covered in butter.
Add grated parmesan to taste and serve. Enjoy!
PS. In the recipe I used what I believe is a decent amount of butter. Another story about great granny says that she used to drown the poor tortelli in melted butter, using approximately what I can only imagine is at least 7-10 times what stated above. Choose wisely and proceed with caution!