Sunday, October 15, 2006

How to make Tortellini – Save the Rhinos

Tortellini, joyous little bites of flavor, are a favorite meal even for the most finicky of kids and adults alike. In all my years in Italy I have yet to find someone who does not like Tortellini. They may not like the way they are served but they always like Tortellini. For the novice cook Tortellini are intimidating, that is until they make them once or twice. How are Tortellini made?

They are simply fresh pasta, cut into disks, filled with just about anything, and folded tightly. In Italy you can find hundreds of types of freshly prepared and industrial tortellini but the best are the ones you make at home. They take a little time and patience, each Tortellino must be folded by hand; do not buy the Tortellini at home machines, they do not work. It takes one person about 35 minutes to make enough Tortellini for a family of four.

Last night we watched a show about young elephants going into must 10 years before their natural time. The show revealed that they were part of a group of young elephants transferred to a new park in an effort to control the population in a larger reserve. These elephants took on many unnatural habits like killing rhinoceros just because they were in the elephant’s water hole. This violent behavior is very unusual for elephants. To make a long story short, these young elephants had been separated from the herds and did not have the advantage of the family support groups. To resolve the problem they brought in older elephants from the established parks and in a short period of time the young ones hooked up with their older counterparts and left their violent ways.

Folding Tortellini with your kids or partner may be a great way to spend a little time together and teach them the things they need to know about life. I know, video games, television and the Internet may seem more interesting but, over time, cooking as a family can have significant benefits and may keep your little elephant from killing some rhinoceros just because they are standing in the same hallway.


400 g Fresh Pasta (4 eggs)
400 g Filling (there are numerous fillings like Tortellini in Brodo)


Roll the pasta very thin. You should be able to see through the pasta and if the consistency is correct the pasta will not break when folded. If the pasta breaks then use slightly thicker setting on the pasta roller. I have found that 90% of the time I can use 7 sometimes when the pasta is too wet or too dry I have to use 6.

The dryer the filling the better, Parmesan cheese will help if the filling if it is very wet. Most recipes will say to use water or egg wash on one part of the fold to help close the Tortellino. I usually do this even though properly prepared pasta will hold without the egg wash.

Cut one 12 inch long sheet of pasta into 3 inch disks. It should make between 7-9 disks.
Roll ½ teaspoon of filling into a tight ball and place in the center of the disk. Brush egg-wash or water on the outer edge of ½ of the disk.

Fold the pasta over the filling creating a semicircle. The top edge should be about ¼ inch inside the lower edge.

Fold the excess pasta around the semicircle down over the filling to create a pyramid.

Fold the outside edges toward the center. The Tortellino will take the shape of a B2 Bomber.

Brush the area covering the filling with water or egg wash and fold to the center the side edges and press.

Place the finished Tortellino on a floured baking pan. If prepared several hours before hand place in the refrigerator.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can feed kids any amount of new veg if served in a meal of tortellini. This weekend everyone ate spinach and declared it delicious, even though spinach had previously been a 'yuck' food.

2:02 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Golly In the name of Tortellini I have gotten my kids hooked on so many different veggies! I love spinach also but I remember the way my mother cooked it, it was stringy, bitter, and slimey. I think it has to do with whether or not the spinach is fresh and the way it is prepared. Think about it, Popeye always opened spinach in a can...

When the ingredients are fresh and prepared according to traditional recipes I cannot think of vegetables I do not like.

Think about the difference between canned green beans and fresh snap beans or how about peas, I do not even cook the frozen ones and the canned I cannot touch but give me a plate of fresh peas, lightly steamed, oh baby....

3:00 PM

Blogger a.c.t. said...

I've never tried making them but I keep promising to do so soon. I like the pictures (are they your hands?), it makes it look very simple. My favourite fillings are spinach and ricotta, parma ham or sausage. Which filling do you think is best and simplest for a first attempt?

6:46 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

ACT The hands are Raffaella, I take the photos.

With the Spinach Ricotta filling you should be careful about the dampness. If the filling is too wet it will make the process much more difficult.

For "first timers" I would go with the meat mix until you get a feel for the consistency of the mix.

Over the next months, in line with the season, I will be publishing numerous Tortellini, Ravioli and Cannelloni recipes.

7:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the recipes.
BTW, your comment on the elephants reminded me of a story in the paper about lions hunting elephants for the first time in recorded history.

2:37 PM

Blogger AY said...

Italian cuisine is so similar to Chinese cuisine (Marco Polo?).

Anyhow, looks so yummy!

5:14 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Lexcen I guess it is more than just humans who need someone older, with a bit more experience to teach us to mellow out.

AY Most probable that many different dishes were exchanged over the years. Many do not know that Ginger is widely used in Northeastern Italy although it is not indigenous.

5:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I make a similar dish that was handed down from my Great Grandmother. we use ground pork, ground beef, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg in a chicken broth. I make these only on very special occasions. Birthdays, christmas and give as christmas gifts. I love this tradition and have carried it on to my family.

10:08 AM


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