Fresh pasta: Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Tortelloni

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I bought a pasta machine in Cardiff and I've experimented a few times with different fresh pasta recipes and pasta shapes (whilst figuring out how to fold them!). I particularly like Tortelloni - large, pocket-like pasta shapes filled with a filling of your choice and held together by clever folding. The recipes are not as clear cut: the brighter the pasta, the nicer it is, but that means that you've got to use more egg yolks than seems quite right (one very popular online recipe calls for 11 egg yolks!).

So I opted for a 'middle ground' pasta recipe - Lidia Bastianich's tortelloni pasta recipe.

- 3 cups plain flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons warm milk (as needed)

You should do it the old-fashioned way by making a well with the dry ingredients and slowly mixing the wet ingredients from the middle out. I don't like this method (purely due to the ew egg mixing factor) so I just replicated the process in my mixer. Either way, mix until smooth, take the dough out and knead it until it becomes silky and elastic. Then, cover it in plastic and refrigerate for up to one day.

Once the dough is back at room temperature you can start rolling it. You feed the dough through various thicknesses until you're down to the one you like - we enjoyed pasta rolled to a 'number 4' setting which was about 1.2mm.

To make your tortelloni you need to cut out big rounds from the rolled pasta dough. The last time I made these I found that using a smaller cutter (around 5cm) was too small and didn't take enough filling, so I opted for an 8cm cutter this time. It might sound quite big, but you fold them in half and still create a bit of an edge so it really only takes a heaped teaspoon of filling. 

Spoon in your filling. I made a mozzarella and sundried tomato filling using about 12 sundried tomatoes, a ball of mozzarella, a garlic clove (finely grated) and a pinch of basil with salt and pepper. I also grated in a small cube of parmesan cheese once it was all chopped up. The last time I made these I opted for a butternut and feta with nutmeg filling. Yum.

Fold your pasta into a crescent, pressing down at the edges to keep the filling inside. This reminds me of making perogen!

Finally, pinch the ends together with the bottom sides facing and your tortelloni will take shape. The more they lift up on the edges, the more secure your tortelloni will be.

That's it! Boil up a pot of water, pop your pasta parcels in, and boil for 3 minutes or until they're floating (usually only 3-4 minutes). I made a half-quantity of pasta and that made 20 tortelloni which I served for four people with a side of two large garlic breads. Toss the pasta in a drizzle of olive oil, garnish with chopped basil, and serve.

This pasta recipe was quite a lot better than the first one I tried out (Jamie Oliver's fresh pasta recipe) - I think it was the addition of warmed milk and olive oil that made the dough more pliable and easy to work with for a pasta beginner. 

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