One thing I’m still not used to since I’ve become a stay-at-home- mom is never knowing what day of the week it is. They all almost seem the same to me!! I’ll recognize the weekends, but seriously – Monday through Friday – on most days if you ask me what day it is, I will have no idea. I almost missed that today is Friday – which means I almost didn’t post this Cookbook of the Month Recipe!
I thought I’d get ambitious and try to make pasta completely by hand. I don’t have a pasta maker, so I did this completely from scratch. It did take a lot of time, but the end result was totally worth it, even if I need a lot more practice in making it look pretty! This recipe is extremely long (and took a long time to type!) so I’ll get right to the notes of the recipe.
- Right off the bat – I have to admit that I didn’t totally follow the directions for rolling out the pasta. I had a child crying for attention, and my mind couldn’t concentrate on the instructions, so I just rolled the dough out. And it seemed to work. And while it was delicious, I’m sure the pasta itself could have been even better if I would have followed the directions to a T!
- I didn’t end up squeezing any juice out of my squash, because I got distracted and let the squash cook too long. Then I let it cool too long, so it was a bit dried out. Good thing this didn’t ruin the filling, because it was still delicious!
- I made half the recipe, and between my husband and I, we ate about 2/3 of it. I left the last third in the fridge and cooked it up for lunch the next day. I liked it way better when it was fresh. It had dried out quite a bit in the fridge, and even after cooking the pasta longer, it still was a bit hard and chewy.
- Anyone know the difference between tortelli and ravioli? In the book, under the instructions for shaping the tortelli, it just refers you over to tortelli. (And yes – it’s tortelli, not tortellini.)
- I have only included the instructions to do everything by hand, otherwise this recipe would be WAY too long (and I just don’t feel like typing that much!)
We both loved this recipe and I completely thought it was worth the effort. Now I’m going to really lust after a pasta maker, but at least I know that I can do it by hand!
Recipe Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Butternut Squash Tortelli
from Biba’s Taste of Italy
Serves 4 to 6
For the filling
1 medium butternut squash (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt to taste
For the pasta dough
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon coarse salt
For the sauce
3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 to 10 sage leaves, shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt to taste
To prepare the filling, heat the oven to 350F.
Cut the squash lengthwise in half and remove and discard the seeds. Wrap the squash in a sheet of foil, place it on a baking sheet, and bake on the middle rack of the oven until it is tender and can be easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Let it cool slightly.
Scoop out the flesh from the squash and place on a large clean cloth napkin (not a kitchen towel, because the soft squash would stick to the porous cloth). Wrap the napkin around the squash and squeeze out about 1/2 cup of the watery juices*. Place the squash in a bowl and mash it with a spoon. Add the Parmigiano and nutmeg, season with salt, and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two.
Using the flour and eggs, prepare the pasta dough:
Making pasta dough by hand – Mound the flour on a large wooden board or other work surface. With your fingers, make a round well in the center of the flour. Break the eggs into the well. Stir the eggs thoroughly with a fork, then gradually draw the flour, starting with the inside walls of the well, into the eggs, mixing it with the fork, until a soft past begins to form.
With a dough scraper, push all the remaining flour to one side of the board. Scrape off and discard the bits and pieces of dough attached to the board. Add some of the flour you have pushed aside to the dough and begin kneading gently. As you keep incorporating more flour, the dough will become firmer and your kneading will need to become more energetic. Do not add too much flour, though; you may not need it all.
The moment you have a soft, manageable dough, clean the board again and wash your hands. Flour the work surface lightly an begin to knead the dough, pushing it away from you with the palms of your hands and then folding half of the dough back over itself. As you knead, keep turning the dough: push, fold over, and turn. Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, adding a bit more flour is it sticks to the board or your hands.
Press one finger into the center of the dough. If it comes out barely moist, the dough is ready to be rolled out. If the dough is quite sticky, knead it a bit longer, adding more flour. When it is ready, the dough will be compact, pliable, smooth and moist.
If you are going to roll out the dough with a pasta machine, it can be used immediately. If you are going to roll it out with a rolling pin, wrap it first in plastic wrap, and set it aside to rest for about 30 minutes. After that time, the gluten in the dough will have relaxed and it will be easier to roll it out. If the dough is too soft and limp when you remove the plastic wrap, knead it for a minute or so to a firmer consistency.
Roll the dough out:
Rolling out pasta dough by hand – Dust a large wooden board or other work surface very lightly with flour. Flatten the dough out with your hands and, using a long pasta rolling pin, start rolling from the center of the dough out, away from you, toward the edges. Rotate the dough slightly and roll out again from the center toward the edges; don’t push down on the dough as you roll it out. Keep rolling and turning the dough to produce a circular sheet of dough. If the dough sticks to the work surface, roll it loosely around the rolling pin, lift up the rolling pin, and dust the work surface lightly with flour.
Once you have a nice circle of dough, about the size of an individual pizza, roll the far edge of the pasta sheet up around the rolling pin. Hold the dough near you with one hand while, with the palm of the other hand, you push the rolling pin with the rolled dough gently away from you. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat a few more times, keeping the circular shape by rotating the dough a quarter turn each time. If the dough sticks to the board or to the rolling pin, dust the board and the pasta sheet very lightly with flour; don not use to much flour, or the dough will be too dry.
When the circle of dough had doubled in size, starting from the far edge, roll up half of the pasta sheet snugly around the rolling pin. Put the palms of your hands at the center of the rolling pin and gently roll the pin back and forth while stretching the dough outward under your palms; your hand should never remain in the same position, but should move from the center out to the sides in a continuous motion. This action will stretch the dough sideways as well as forward. Keep stretching the dough this way, working as fast as you can, or the pasta will dry out and will be impossible to stretch. While part of the dough is wrapped around the rolling pin, rotate the sheet a quarter turn. Unroll the dough, then starting from the far edge roll up half of the pasta sheet snugly around the rolling pin, and roll and stretch the dough as described above, rotating at as needed. When the sheet of pasta is very thin, almost transparent, it is ready.
The rolled out sheet should be used immediately if you are making stuffed pasta.
Form the tortelli:
Trim a thin sheet of dough as necessary so that it has straight edges and is 5 inches wide. Starting 1 1/4 inches from one end, place 1 tablespoon of filling every 2 1/2 inches down the center of the sheet of dough. Stop when you get halfway down the length of the dough. Fold the empty dough over the filling, aligning the edges, and seal the dough around each mound of filling, pressing out any air pockets with your fingertips. Cut the dough between the filling and into individual ravioli and press the edges to sea.
Cover a large tray with a clean kitchen towel and place the tortelli on it in a single layer, making sure they do not tough each other. The tortelli can be cooked immediately or refrigerated, uncovered, for a few hours, or overnight.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the coarse salt and tortelli, stir once or twice, and cook, until the tortelli are tender but still firm to the bite, 2 to 3 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sage and stir for about 1 minute. Keep warm over low heat.
Turn off the heat under the pasta pot and, with a large skimmer or slotted spoon, scoop up the tortelli, draining the excess water back into the pot, and place in a large heated bowl. Add the sauce, season lightly with salt, and add about half of the Parmigiano. Mix gently and serve at once with the remaining Parmigiano.
*You can take the rung out juices of the squash and cook them over high heat until they are reduced to a dark, golden thick essence that resembles caramel, then cool it slightly and fold it in the squash mixture. It adds sweetness and body to the filling. The only tricky thing is to make sure that the juices are thickened enough so they won’t make the filling watery, but not so thick that they will clump up in the filling.
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