Making delicious filled pasta is easier than you think
Even though finished tortellini are ring-shaped, they start as squares of pasta dough.
Tortellini, small ring-shaped pasta that’s traditionally filled with cheese or meat then served in broth or sauce, are easy to make. To make tortellini from scratch, you’ll need fresh pasta dough, rolled thin (if you need a pasta dough recipe for your tortellini, click here). Once you’ve rolled the pasta dough, cut it into small squares (with about 3-inch sides) using a cookie cutter or a pizza wheel.
Place a small amount of ricotta cheese (about ¼ teaspoon) into the center of each piece of pasta. You can flavor the ricotta with grated Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, or other herbs and spices if you’d like. Once you’ve placed cheese on each piece of pasta, shape the tortellini by brushing a small amount of beaten egg along half the perimeter, folding the square into a triangle, and pressing to seal the edges. Then, wrap the triangle shape into a small loop, pressing the two points of the triangle to seal them and folding the third point over to form the classic tortellini shape.
Click here for our best tortellini recipes.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.
How to make tortellini
Tortellini is a small, ring-shaped filled pasta hailing from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Traditionally, tortellini are filled with minced pork or veal and served in a rich meaty broth. However, they are equally delicious when filled with ricotta and spinach or crab and prawn.
Making and shaping tortellini takes a little practice and they aren’t the quickest of foods to prepare, but the homemade version beats shop-bought varieties hands down and can be frozen, so it's worth making a big batch to have a go-to supper on hand for busier days.
Whatever filling you choose, make sure it’s cool before making the tortellinis and that your pasta is removed from the fridge around 30 minutes before you need it to make it easier to work with. It is also important that the filling is not too wet, as this will make tortellini difficult to shape and may mean they burst in the water.
Traditional Christmassy Tortellini from a Bolognese granny – How to Make Them from Scratch
Making Tortellini from scratch is more than just preparing a filled pasta to be eaten right away. It’s a way to get closer to your friends or loved ones if you decide to spend a few days together preparing hundred of Tortellini, getting prepared for the Christmas dinner. This is what I did with my expat Italian friends in Copenhagen. Thanks to my nice friend Licia, I got to know the secret recipe of her grandma from Bologna… imagine what that means to me, coming from Puglia! As soon as we found the ingredients in a danish well-assorted grocery store (make sure the ingredients are of good quality: this makes a huge difference at the end), we cleared our diary for two days during which we rolled our sleeves up and prepared tons of Tortellini. Two carefree days filled with lots of laughs and lots of little chats, observing the Covid rules though.
INGREDIENTS for 6 servings
For the filling:
- 100 g pork loin
- 100 g Prosciutto Crudo
- 100 g Mortadella from Bologna
- 150 g Parmigiano Reggiano (better if it is aged three years)
- 1 eggs
- ground nutmeg, to taste
- garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves
For the fresh egg pasta:
How to make the filling:
The day-before, in the morning: season the pork loin with garlic, salt and a little pepper (make a few incisions and insert the sliced garlic inside). Cover and leave it for at least 7/8 hours in the fridge.
After that time, slice the pork loin. Put a frying pan (big enough to contain the pork loin in 1 layer) on medium heat. Add two / three knobs of butter in, and let melt it. Then season with two bay leaves, and place the meat in. Cook on both sides for a few minutes. Once cooked, clean up of the aroma and let cool the meat.
Grind finely the meat. Separately, chop the Prosciutto Crudo and the Mortadella. Pour all of them together in a large bowl.
- Prosciutto Crudo
- Pork Meat
Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, salt, the egg, and the freshly grated nutmeg (do not abound with the nutmeg, its taste might dominates the flavour of the other ingredients). Mix everything working with your hands until you get a soft but compact dough. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, covered with a plastic wrap.
How to make the fresh egg pasta:
Pour the flour on a wooden board, make a well in the centre, and break the eggs into it. Using a fork beat the eggs and gradually incorporate the flour from the sides to the centrum until you get a rough dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 -15 min.
If the dough is too sticky, add some flour on the work surface and knead it. Work the dough until obtaining a silky-smooth ball. Cover it with a damp cloth and let rest for about 30 min.
If you are using an electric mixer: pour the eggs in the Kitchen aid bowl, equipped with the dough hook. Add the flour and mix until the dough just comes together, for about 20 seconds. Remove the dough and knead by hand for 2 minutes. Let it rest at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.
- pasta sheet
If you roll out the dough by the pasta machine: Cut the dough into 5-6 pieces before processing each piece with a pasta sheet attachment, or with a manual pasta machine.
Take the first piece of dough, dust it lightly with flour and flatten into a rectangular shape, setting the machine at the widest setting (number 1 – My pasta machine goes from number 1 to number 5). Fold the dough in half and run it through the machine again, for three times.
Set the pasta machine at the narrower setting (number 2) and proceed as before. Continue to press the dough until the number 3 setting (which is not the thinner). Repeat the same procedure for each piece of dough.
If you roll out the dough by hand: Dust the dough lightly with flour and with a mattarello -rolling pin, roll out the dough in one sheet of about 1 mm thickness (you should be able to see your hand through the sheet – see the picture above).
How to fold the tortellini: Cut the sheet into 4 x 4 cm squares. Place a small amount of filling in the middle of each one (see the picture). Fold a corner on the opposite one to form a triangle, and with your thumbs seal the edges well pushing out any air bubbles. Then roll Tortellino around your middle finger, press the two corners very tightly to close it, turning the upper edge outwards (watch the video below).
Lay the Tortellini on a floured tray and let them dry in the air.
If you don’t cook the Tortellini right away, freeze them on a tray and transfer to a freezer-safe container once solid. Tortellini will keep for about 3 months. Cook directly from the freezer, increasing the cooking time by a a few minutes.
Cheese Tortellini Recipes and How to Make Tortellini from Scratch
Cheese Tortellini Recipes and How to Make Tortellini from Scratch- Today, I prepare some cheese tortellini recipes. Not only the recipe, but I also give you some ways to make tortellini from scratch. If you have mastered how to make pasta, it is time to make something new like tortellini. For you information, you will know the basics of cooking such as rolling, stuffing, shaping until serving the recipe which contains of tortellini. In the end, you will feel like a pro cooker who achieves new skills in making tortellini from scratch. As we know, tortellini is like pasta wrapper. But, it is more complicated than just pasta. Without further ado, let us go to the main topic firstly.
PUMPKIN PIE POKE CȦKE Prep Time: 25 mins, Cook Time: 25 mins, Refrigerȧtion Time: 18&hellip
Omurice Recipe Omurice, omelet rice, is ketchup fried rice wrapped with a crepe-like thinly fried&hellip
Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe with Italian-Style and Alternative Cheese Vegetarian lasagna recipe is not a secret&hellip
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Tonin says there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to which pasta should go with which sauce, just a few common-sense combinations. "Dishes such as gnocchi can take a heavier sauce like a ragu or sauces made with game or slow-cooked meats. The longer and finer the pasta the lighter the sauce should be – such as clams or alio e olio with spaghetti. The thicker the sauce, the shorter the pasta – a chunky sauce needs a short chunky pasta."
Tonin runs pasta-making masterclasses that have pasta novices soon making simple cut pasta and filled pasta. The thrill of getting your hands dirty and making something delicious to eat from flour, eggs, salt and oil never fades, no matter what your age.
"Nothing should go wrong," says Tonin. "Pasta is very forgiving."
If your dough is too dry, don't add another egg, instead add a little water to help bring it together. Add a little flour to dough that is too wet.
If the dough sticks to the pasta machine and tears, it needs more flour. Turn the handle of the pasta machine in reverse to remove the pasta from the machine. Sprinkle it with flour and try again.
When making the filled tortellini make sure you add only a small amount of filling to each. If the filling is trapped under the edges of the tortellini, it will expand when cooking and the pasta will collapse.
Loosen pasta with flour, place in a sealed container and freeze until needed. Cook pasta straight from the freezer, adding a little extra cooking time.
Tonin says the rule of thumb is to buy a machine with as few plastic components as possible. He says $70 will get you a good, basic machine. Alternatively, some kitchen appliances, such as the KitchenAid, offer pasta-making accessories.
Recipe: Basic pasta dough
This recipe is perfect for cut pasta but also works just as well for filled pasta. A more traditional recipe for filled pasta uses the same ingredients but replaces the whole eggs with 12 egg yolks. If you're after a richer, more golden dough, use the recipe with 12 egg yolks. The unused egg whites can be used for meringues, pavlova or egg white omelettes.
Method (same for both types of dough, basic and traditional)
Place your flour on a large board or directly on to your benchtop. Create a volcano-shaped mound with the flour and then make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and add the salt and olive oil. Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs, salt and oil, gradually mixing it into the flour until all the flour and egg is combined. Bring the dough together into a ball with your hands and begin to knead, using the heel of your hand and folding the dough over from each corner.
Knead the dough until it is smooth without any visible traces of flour. This will take a little bit of time and elbow grease. The dough will start to change from a rough texture to a smooth, pliable and velvety dough after about five minutes. When the dough is ready, wrap it in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature, about 10-15 minutes, before using.
When the dough is ready, cut it into four equal pieces. Use a rolling pin to flatten and shape the first piece of dough making sure to create a pointy end. Put the pointy end of the pasta into the pasta machine first.
Pass the dough through the machine at least 2-3 times on each level of thickness, starting with the widest level and moving down to the narrowest. Sprinkle a little flour on each side of the dough to prevent it sticking to the pasta machine. As you move the dough through each level it will begin to take on a smooth, velvety finish. By the last level you should have a long rectangular sheet of pasta. Sprinkle the sheet with flour, set aside, and repeat the process with the remaining dough.
Making the tortelloni
Cut the strips of pasta dough into squares about 8cm x 8cm is easy for beginners to manage. With a pastry brush, moisten the edges of each square of pasta. Using a piping bag or a teaspoon, place a small amount of filling in the centre of the square. Pick up the square of pasta with the filling and place it in the palm of your hand. Bring one corner of the pasta over to its opposite corner to form a triangle. Firmly press the edges of the pasta together all the way around. Carefully trim the edges of the pasta triangle with a pasta cutter or a knife. Then, with the point of the triangle facing you, bring the other two edges together in a circle and press them together to form the tortelloni shape. Place the finished tortelloni on a flour-dusted board and repeat with the remaining pasta and filling.
Ricotta, parmesan and pepper filling
500g of skim milk ricotta
35g of grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 pinches of cracked pepper
Remove the ricotta from its packaging and place in a strainer to remove any extra liquid. Place the ricotta in a large mixing bowl and add the grated Parmesan. Mix with a spoon or your hands until smooth. Add pepper and salt to taste. If not using immediately, cover and place in the fridge.
Cooking the tortelloni
Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to the boil. Place two tsp of salt in the water with about three tablespoons of olive oil. Place your freshly made tortelloni into the boiling water and stir. Continue stirring the water for the first 30 seconds to make sure the tortelloni don't stick to the pot or to each other. Replace the lid and return the water to the boil. Cook the tortelloni for 8-10 minutes. Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking. Remove the pasta from the pot with a slotted spoon and serve with the sauce.
Lemon zest, zucchini and goat's cheese sauce
300g grated zucchini (using the larger of the holes on a grater)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Place a non-stick pan over a high flame and pour four tablespoons of olive oil into the pan. Add a teaspoon of cracked pepper (remember you can always add more seasoning later), two pinches of salt and the garlic. Cook until the garlic is translucent, then add the grated zucchini and cook for about two minutes, stirring all the time. When the zucchini has softened slightly, add the lemon zest, stir through, then remove the pan from the flame. Place the contents of the pan in a serving bowl and then add the goat's cheese and gently combine.
Place four pieces of cooked tortelloni in each dish then add a little sauce. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh oregano or thyme.
Homemade Tortellini? You Can Do It!
2014 is turning out to be the year of fresh pasta. Ever since I took the Pasta Workshop at The Chopping Block, I have been cranking out homemade pasta — literally — every few days. I have a habit of getting obsessed with a new skill or piece of equipment and when that happens my poor family ends up eating the same food for weeks. At least with fresh pasta, they don’t seem to mind.
Having gotten papardelle and fettucine under my belt, I wanted to try my hand at a filled pasta. I am having a small dinner party for my husband’s birthday this weekend, so I somewhat rashly decided to make tortellini in brodo for the first course as an excuse to make homemade tortellini.
I’m sure you are all familiar with the filled pasta, mostly tortellini and ravioli, available in refrigerated cases at the grocery store. One such brand of fresh pasta that I like is Giovanni Rana. Most of us top tortellini with some kind of sauce or use it in pasta salad. Delicious uses all. But in Italy, tortellini is only ever eaten in soup.
Tortellini in brodo means tortellini in broth and is the traditional way to eat these small pasta rings. It’s a popular dish in Northern Italy around the holidays and through the winter. It will be the perfect first course for my dinner party because the main course is going to be boeuf à la ficelle, which is an old French dish of beef tenderloin poached in a rich beef bouillon. The bouillon is then typically served as a first course. So, since I was making beef bouillon from scratch anyway for my boeuf à la ficelle, I might as well make some tortellini to serve in it, right?
I know that this must seem a like an insane amount of work, and I won’t lie to you: homemade tortellini is labor-intensive. But it does have some saving graces. One, you can divide the work into pieces and two, it can be done ahead of time. I made my pasta dough one day and refrigerated it. The next day, I made the filling, rolled out the pasta dough and made the tortellini. Now they are sitting in the refrigerator waiting until the dinner party to be cooked in boiling broth.
Homemade tortellini is also a fun project and one that you could do with friends or your kids. Invite your friends over for a tortellini-making party! With many hands, stuffing the pasta would go quickly and everyone could bring home tortellini for their freezer.
In other words, I’m not suggesting that you make homemade tortellini for Tuesday night dinner. But I am saying that it is a worthwhile and fun DIY kitchen project for when you have a few hours to devote to it. It is not hard, just time-consuming. And the results will not disappoint. The chewy bite of the homemade pasta dough and the ability to customize a filling to your taste and have it be truly fresh will leave you swooning. I loved how I could really taste the fresh herbs and creamy ricotta in these tortellini.
That being said, it is important to use the best possible ingredients for the tortellini. Seek out really fresh ricotta from your cheesemonger. (Or if you’re really nuts, make it yourself. Even I didn’t go that far, bu now I kind of wish I had.) You can use part-skim cheeses if you want to cut down on the fat and calories but the taste will not be as transcendent.
Turn the ravioli maker over and tap the edge against a firm surface such as your work table. The ravioli should fall out of the maker.
Examine each ravioli to be sure it is properly sealed around the edges.
Place the ravioli in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Do not throw the ravioli together in a bowl. It will stick together.
At this point, if you want to freeze the ravioli for later, place the entire cookie sheet into the freezer. Once the ravioli has frozen, you can remove the pasta and put them into bags.
How to Make Cappelletti (and Tortellini)
I’ve been making a lot of Nonni’s traditional recipes lately. This weekend, I sat myself down and made cappelletti, the little hat-shaped tortellini from the Marche region of Italy where that part of my family is from. Since cappelletti in chicken broth (cappelletti en brodo) are a Christmas tradition, I thought this would be a good time to fill the freezer and update the original recipe I posted a few years ago.
Cappelletti are little bite-sized pasta dumplings filled with pork and Parmesan cheese (though regional versions vary). Traditionally, they are served in chicken soup rather than with sauce. However, tradition doesn’t have to trump imagination all the time. You can sauce them and fill them with all sorts of things. You can make them large, like ravioli, and stuff them with a roasted pumpkin puree and serve them with browned butter and sage. You can fill them with ricotta and garlicky mustard greens and top them with red sauce. Or, you could fashion some kind of celery root filling and dress them with a mushroom cream sauce. Like, perhaps, in the spring when your mushroom logs sprout their first flush! Or in the late summer/fall when the hen-of-the-woods come out. I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud. Or maybe you could fill them with the mushrooms themselves! My point is cappelletti are versatile and delicious.
As far as I can tell, the only difference between cappelletti and tortellini (if there’s any at all) is that tortellini tend to have more pronounced holes in the middle and the corners point up like crowns. On the other hand, cappelletti (which means “little hats” in Italian) have almost no holes and the brims of the hats are low like peasant caps. They’re both made basically the same way. Here’s the technique:
Mix up the dough, knead it, and roll it out into thin sheets with a pasta machine. (The recipe goes into more detail on this part.)
Cut dough into 2-inch squares with a pizza cutter or floured paring knife. They don’t have to be perfect.
Place ½ teaspoon of filling in the center.
Fold the dough over the filling triangularly, corner to corner, and seal (you may need to wet a finger in water and run it along the bottom edge of the dough to get it to stick together).
Then bring the two pointy corners on the folded side together, pressing one end on top of the other to seal. For tortellini, you wrap those two ends around a finger before sealing so it retains more of a ring shape (the remaining corner tends to flip up in the process). That’s it!
But doesn’t it get tiresome after you've made the first eight dozen? You bet. At that point, though, it becomes almost therapeutically mindless. It’s a good way to pass a rainy (or snowy) afternoon while the soup is bubbling away. Kids love to play with the pasta machine. It’s also a fun (and cheap) date-night activity if you’re lame. You get 12-15 single meals out of it, which then take all of five minutes to cook right out of the freezer during the week. Plus, you can really stretch a pound of meat that way!
Nonni used to make cappelletti by hand one thousand at a time. I’m not exaggerating. Me, I made a measly 150 in as many minutes. I figure she had an extra 50 years to get better at it, though. If you’re new to pasta-making, here’s a great tutorial. Everyone should try it once. It’s play dough for adults. If you don’t have a pasta machine, just ask a neighbor. People have all kinds of stuff they never use!
You’ll need some good chicken soup to serve these in. Best to make it ahead of time. Nonni’s version is here. You can also make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate it. It’s actually easier to handle chilled. If you find yourself with a little extra pasta dough left over, roll it out, cut it into ribbons slightly thinner than ½-inch, and freeze them for future fettuccine. If you have leftover filling, which I doubt you will, make an omelet.
1½ Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground pork
½ cup breadcrumbs
¾ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff—NOT from a canister)
Salt and pepper
3 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
For the filling, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Brown pork until cooked through. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute or two. Mix in breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mixture should be thick enough to hold together. If too wet, add more breadcrumbs and/or cheese. Let cool in refrigerator while making dough.
On a board or in a large bowl, add flour and make a well in the middle. Crack eggs into the center and beat with a fork, gradually scraping in the flour from the perimeter to incorporate. When it gets too thick to stir, turn out onto floured board and knead. Depending on the flour, your eggs, and the humidity, you may not need all the flour, or you may need more. Wash and dry your hands so the dough doesn’t stick. Knead 10-15 minutes. Put in a lightly oiled bowl and cover to keep from drying out. Let rest for a half hour.
Set up a pasta machine with rollers open to the widest setting. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces and keep covered. Flour the rollers of the pasta machine. Take one piece of pasta, flatten it with your hands, and run it through the machine at its widest setting (1 on the side knob of my Imperia). Fold dough into thirds to make a square-ish shape and run it through again. Repeat several times (this reactivates the gluten to give the dough more stiffness). Decrease the space between the rollers by one and run the pasta through one time. From now on, don’t fold. Continue decreasing the space between rollers and running the dough through once until you reach the thinnest setting (6 on my machine) or the pasta is so thin, you can almost see your fingers through it.
Working quickly, place rolled-out pasta on lightly floured surface and cut into 2-inch squares using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Place ½ teaspoon of filling in the center of a square and fold into a triangle, corner to corner, pressing on the edges to seal (moisten edges with a finger dipped in water if they don’t adhere). Bring the two pointy corners toward each other, overlapping slightly, and press to join. They should sit flat like the little hats they are. Lay them in a single layer on a rimmed, floured cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap while filling the rest of the pasta squares. Repeat until all the pasta is used. Freeze the pans of completed cappelletti as soon as they are filled. Once the pasta is frozen, you can transfer them to plastic freezer bags. Makes 125-150.
To serve, bring chicken soup to a boil. Add frozen cappelletti (don’t defrost them). Let soup come back up to a boil, then turn down heat to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Serving size is about 10 cappelletti, though my dad would heartily, heartily disagree with that figure.