Keen to demonstrate his prowess with the pasta machine, Fidget set a cracking pace that demanded a perfectly coordinated operation for success…
Tortelli di zucca – filled pasta with pumpkin
Although home-made pasta is not difficult it does require time and dedication, and the Rowes were determined to team up and make this special occasion dish.
The process is in two parts: the filling and the pasta itself.
Starting with the filling (which you must have ready when your pasta dough is done) you will need: about ½ a large pumpkin or squash (which you will roast in the oven and then use about 300g of the cooked pulp), 40g dry amaretti biscuits crushed, 60g grated parmesan and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. For the fresh pasta dough: 300g white 00 flour, 3 medium eggs, pinch of fine salt, 1 tbsp olive oil (and 1 egg yolk for binding). Plus more olive oil, parmesan, crumbled amaretti and a few sprigs of thyme to serve.
To prepare the filling, wash and cut the pumpkin into pieces, drizzle with olive oil and roast until the pulp is tender. Scoop 300g of the cooked pulp into a large bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the crushed amaretti, the grated parmesan, a little seasoning and the thyme leaves. Mix well, cover and set aside for when the pasta is ready.
To make the fresh pasta, put the flour in a bowl (forming a well in the middle) with the eggs, salt and olive oil. Start by mixing some flour into the egg mix, gradually incorporating the flour to form a pliable ball. Knead for 10 minutes then wrap in cling film and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
When you are ready to roll, cut a piece of the dough and mould a rough rectangle with your fingers so that it can go through the pasta machine. Pass it through 2 or 3 times, folding and stretching it after each time. With the pasta sheet about 2mm thick, cut out your tortelli cases: we used a round cutter 8cm in diameter. Fill with pumpkin mixture – when closing it to create the half-moon shape, leave about ½cm margin all around. Brush a little egg yolk around the edge, fold and press to close (you can create ‘pleats’ with a fork). Leave to rest on a clean surface such as a large tray sprinkled lightly with flour to stop the tortelli sticking. Keep going until you have used up all the mixture. You are likely to have some pasta dough left over, which you can quickly run through the machine to make tagliatelle for another time.
These ingredients yielded 22 large tortelli. So, allowing 7 per person for a main meal, we had some spare to freeze to be used as a starter on another occasion.
Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. Bring the water to the boil, add the salt and then the tortelli. Once they rise to the surface again they should need just a minute or two (if you have kept some pasta trimmings of the same thickness you can drop them in the boiling water at the same time for testing). Drain, add the olive oil, parmesan, crushed amaretti and a few sprigs of thyme to serve.
A little ‘sweet’ – the pumpkin and amaretti give it that edge – delicious and ever so sophisticated.
Perhaps not every day, but when you’re in the mood for a special dish this is a really satisfying option. And if you have willing and helpful sous-chefs it would be child’s play. Just don’t get too competitive with the pasta machine…!