Tortelli: 5 things you didn’t know about this stuffed pasta

Tortelli: 5 things you didn’t know about this stuffed pasta

Mamma mia!

Text: Rachel Chan

Image: Mandarin Oriental Singapore

It’s time to arm yourself with a rolling pin for some wholesome Italian goodness

Picking your pasta in the supermarket can be a feat. With a plethora of choices from spaghetti to linguine, penne to fettuccine... you name it, they have it. While its shapes are different, pre-packaged pasta usually tends to taste similar, due to the absence of eggs and the fact that they're all dried at a low temperature for several days until all the moisture has evaporated. Fresh pasta, on the other hand, is healthier and more delicate. If you're looking to impress your dinner crew, the best way to go about it is to make your own. 

We put our skills to the test with Dolce Vita's Chef de Cuisine Marco Manocchio at Mandarin Oriental Singapore for a flour-filled session with tortelli, a type of stuffed pasta with cheese from Bologna. Here's five facts you probably didn't know about tortelli and how you can carefully craft a perfect hearty bowl, the authentic Italian way.
homemade tortelli mandarin oritental singapore

1. It originated from Bologna... and resembles a body part
According to a legend, the Roman goddess of love, Venus, stayed in a tavern one night in Castelfranco Emilia. The tavern's host spied on her through a keyhole on her door and caught a flash of her navel, which captivated him so much that he immediately went to the kitchen and created its shape from a sheet of pasta. 

2. It's a widely celebrated dish
With so much history to its name, the small town of Castelfranco Emilia commemorates the tortelli by holding an annual celebration, Sagra di San Nicola, which celebrates the Tortellino Festival every second week of September. The townspeople take this festival very seriously, where they would dress up and renact the day the tortelli was created. What's more? The Bologna Chamber of Commerce has safely kept an official recipe for posterity since the 1970s, called 'Tortellini di Bologna'.

 3. Tortelli vs ravioli
Don't beat yourself up about not knowing the difference, because the two only vary in shape — the tortelli is curved while the ravioli is flat. There are also two other sizes for the tortelli — tortellini, which is the smaller version, and tortelloni, the bigger version.

4. It's usually saved for special occasions
Back in the day, Italians only ate tortelli during Christmas, weddings and Easter due to its expensive ingredients such as parmesan cheese and prosciutto cheese.

5. Tortelli isn't served with sauces 
Walk into almost any restaurant and you can expect to find tortelli topped with all kinds of sauces. However, Italians are quite strict when it comes to this and would use a broth instead, especially one made of veal.

homemade tortelli italian food

If you'd like to bring a piece of Italy home with you, try this tortelli recipe from Dolce Vita with its original filling and ingredients flown from different parts of Italy.

Note: Take the dough out of the chiller for an hour before making the tortelli, as it will be easier to stretch it out. If you'd like the tortelli to appear shinier after cooking, just coat the dough with some vinegar. Keep in mind that dough with egg yolk will be harder to stretch out. Chef Manocchio mentioned that the benefits of making your own tortelli are that not only will the filling ingredients be fresher, they can be changed up to however you'd like, and you can always opt for healthier ones instead.

Pasta dough: Here's what you need

300g Egg Yolk
300g Plain Flour
200g Semolina Flour

Pasta dough: How to make it

1. Add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix it well.
2. Keep the dough in the chiller overnight.
3. Sprinkle some flour onto the dough and roll it out until the thickness becomes translucent.
4. Cut the dough into circles according to the amount you would like to eat.

Tortelli filling: Here's what you need

50g Butter
50g Flour
70g Milk
20g Parmesan
50g Ricotta Cheese
50g Spinach
Salt, Pepper and Nutmeg according to taste

Tortelli filling: How to make it

1. Melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook for two minutes.
2. Add in the milk and stir it until it comes to a béchamel sauce consistency.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and season it according to taste.
4. Coat the each circle of dough with water to make it stick.
5. Using a piping bag, squeeze an appropriate amount of filling onto the dough.
6. Fold the dough into a semicircle before it turns dry, and then fold it into a curved shape, giving it a good press until all the sides are stuck to each other to prevent the filling from spilling out.
7. Cook the tortelli in boiling water for two to three minutes, or until it rises to the top. Serve with the sauce of your choice.

For more pasta goodness from Chef de Cuisine Marco Manocchio, visit Dolce Vita at Mandarin Oriental Singapore.