If Grandma were a dish, she would have been home made pasta, tortelli, actually!
Since I was young, Grandma used to make homemade fresh pasta on holidays. She would herself in her kitchen and she would came out later with a wooden tray, lined with paper and dusted with semolina flour. The tray was always crammed with ricotta and spinach tortelli. I know, it’s strange, but when I remember those moments, the most lively detail is the tray: enormous, sturdy, made by my granddad Biagio, a master with wood works.
The most popular Tuscan tortelli are those from Maremma, made with a filling of ricotta cheese and spinach, sometimes with a hint of marjoram, with wide edges of pasta all around the soft heart. This is what my friend from Follonica, Claudia, calls marciapiede, a sidewalk.
Grandma has always used spinach and nutmeg, they taste like Sunday, a table set with the best cutlery, dinner service, and cloth napkins.
Here’s my family recipe for spinach and ricotta tortelli
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For the fresh pasta
- 100 g of 00 flour, or all-purpose flour
- 100 g of semolina flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of salt
For the filling
- 300 g of fresh spinach, thoroughly rinsed
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 150 g of well drained sheep ricotta
- 2 tablespoon of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- ¼ teaspoon of grated nutmeg
Make fresh pasta
- Sift the semolina flour with the all-purpose flour, place it on a wooden board and make a well in the centre. Break the eggs in the centre of the flour, add a pinch of salt and pour in the extra virgin olive oil. Mix the flours and the eggs with a fork, then start kneading the dough, until the dough is soft, elastic and it doesn’t stick to your fingers anymore. You’ll need about 10 minutes.
- Let it rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature, wrapped in cling film or covered with a bowl.
Now make the filling
- Collect the throughly rinsed spinach in a pan without draining them too much.
- Cover with a lid and cook on medium low flame until they are wilted.
- Drain and let cool, then squeeze out all excess liquid. You will have about 150 grams of cooked spinach.
- Chop the spinach with a knife then transfer to a pan with 1 garlic clove and a small about of olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the spinach has dried out and is well flavoured.
- Next put the spinach in a bowl and combine with the ricotta. Add the grated Parmigiano and grated nutmeg. Adjust for salt.
Now make the tortelli.
- After the resting time, roll out the dough: you can use a classic rolling-pin or the pasta maker. The most important thing, either you’re using the rolling-pin or the pasta maker, is to keep rolling and flipping and rolling and flipping until you get a dough that is paper-thin. If you use the pasta machine, I usually reach the one stop before the last to have my perfect thickness for ravioli.
- Make a thin wide sheet of pasta and lay it on a lightly floured wooden board.
- Dollop the filling onto the pasta sheet an inch apart - a teaspoon would do.
- Lay the filling on the top part of the sheet, then fold it on the bottom part, flipping the filling. With two fingers press the pasta in between the filling to seal the pasta and then press it on the lower side too, trying to remove as much air as possible.
- Now comes the cutting. Use a scalloped pasta wheel to cut the tortelli: first cut the bottom part of all the long sheet, removing the excess pasta, then cut the tortelli in between.
- Last thing, use a fork, on the flat side, not the prongs, to seal again the three sealed sides of the tortelli. You’ll get a cute shape of a pillow!
- Repeat to finish pasta and filling, arranging the tortelli side by side, not overlapping, on a floured board.
- Cook for just a few minutes on a large pot of boiling salted water, drain and season with your favourite sauce: brown butter and sage, but also a quick tomato sauce.
My favourite seasoning for ravioli is the classic one, brown butter and sage, the most simple you can imagine: fresh pasta and such a delicate filling speak for themselves. Melt a knob of butter in a small pan with some sage leaves until they get crisp. Pour the brown butter and the sage leaves over the ravioli, sprinkle with a lot of grated Parmigiano and serve hot.
Though, I have to admit that I also like to dress them with a rich and garlicky tomato sauce.