A simple recipe to prepare them the traditional way
The crowned jewel of Modenese tables is undoubtedly the tortellini, a fresh stuffed pasta. But there’s another ubiquitous traditional pasta in homes, trattorias, and restaurants in the Modena area, tortelloni. This traditional recipe will guide you step by step how in the preparation of pumpkin-filled tortelloni, served with a drizzle of traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena. Pumpkin, a fruit from the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes zucchinis, cucumbers, watermelons, and melons, is typical of the cold season, light, super versatile, and rich in fibre. A simple and tasty variation of this same recipe replaces pumpkin with a filling of ricotta cheese and spinach.
TORTELLONI, A BIT OF HISTORY
Tortelloni, or tortelli, are a stuffed pasta dish born out of necessity: it seems that they were served in the Lombard Padania region in the 1100s to repurpose leftovers from the table and avoid wasting anything. The ancestor of the preparation we know today likely appeared around the 1300s in the Bologna area. What is certain is that the original recipe carries the scent of medieval culture and is a perfect synthesis of the art of pasta and pies making. It was indeed a thin sheet of dough, made with soft wheat flour and eggs, then cut into small pieces, each closed with a savoury filling (meat, cold cuts, cheeses), or sweet (jams, mustards, raisins, candied fruit, cookies). Tortelli were cooked in two different ways: boiled in water or broth, served with cheese and spices, or fried and sweetened with sugar and honey. In any case, wherever you go, you find tortelli: each region carries forward its tradition, based on typical products and handed-down stories; the filling, accompaniment, and even the shape may change. Here in Maranello, we make tortelloni in a triangle shape, filled with pumpkin or the ricotta cheese and spinach variant, served with simple butter or a good meat ragù sauce. Now we’ll tell you how to prepare the dough and filling according to the tradition of our “rezdore.”
TORTELLONI MODENESE: THE RECIPE OF OUR REZDORE
Ingredients for the pasta dough for 4/6 people
- 300g All-Purpose Flour
- 3 Egg Yolks (1 for every 100g of flour)
Spread the flour on the work surface in a classic vulcano shape. Pour the eggs into the centre and knead with your hands until the dough is soft and smooth. Let it rest at room temperature in a covered bowl for at least an hour before proceeding to roll it out. For the first roll-out, use a wooden rolling pin until you reach a thickness of about half a centimetre. Then cut strips of the appropriate size for your pasta-thinning machine. The first pass through the machine should be at a thickness of 1 to 3. Then proceed with at least one more thinning pass until you reach the desired thickness. Now cut the pasta in squares with sides of about 6 cm. Continue rolling out the dough on the counter and cutting strips, then squares until you have no more dough left. Add a spoonful of the desired filling, fold into a triangle, and fold the triangle to close it.
Ideally, not too much time should pass between preparation and cooking, only a few hours. In any case, you can store the tortelloni for a day or two in the refrigerator, making sure to flour them well and prevent them from sticking together or to the container you place them in.
Ingredients for pumpkin filling for 4/6 people
- 500g pumpkin
- 50g Parmigiano Reggiano
- Salt to taste
- Nutmeg to taste
Wash and cut the pumpkin into lozenges. Bake in a static oven for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. The pulp should easily lift with a spoon. Transfer to a bowl and knead with the addition of Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.
Ingredients for ricotta cheese and spinach filling for 4/6 people
- 300g cow’s milk ricotta
- 400g spinach (net of waste)
- 5-6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Salt to taste
- Parsley to taste
- Nutmeg to taste
Clean and wash the spinach. Sauté in a pan for about five minutes, then squeeze to remove excess water. Put it back on the heat with a knob of butter, parsley, and salt for another five minutes. Let it cool and mix, adding and incorporating ricotta, grated Parmigiano, and nutmeg.
Cooking and Dressing
Lower the tortelloni into boiling water, a few at a time, and gently stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for a few minutes (6 to 10). Gently lift with a perforated spoon and, after draining them well, place them directly on the plate: about 10 tortelloni, a good portion. Add the desired dressing: butter melted and sautéed with a bit of sage, and a generous spoonful of Parmigiano Reggiano; in the case of pumpkin-filled tortelloni, they will be delicious also accompanied by a rich meat ragù.
Finally, don’t forget to bring a good bottle of Lambrusco wine to the table, a perfect combination of quality and tradition.