Monday, September 15, 2014

Spinach, Ricotta, Roasted Garlic Tortelloni

Ok, I will admit that making homemade stuffed pasta takes work. But the theme of September's blog posts seems to be commitment; once you unwrap and begin to roll out that fresh pasta dough, you are committed to making yourself some pasta. And pasta for those you love...if there are leftovers. ;) I promise you this filling is very worth all of the work. The flavor combination is inspired by a slice of pizza from a late night Brooklyn pizzeria I used to visit after a night dancing with friends. The place is so good the line is out the door, regardless of the hour; people will line up for this pizza at 2pm the same as at 2am. They would serve this popular slice which was covered in chopped spinach, dotted with whole cloves of roasted garlic and heavy with large, rich dollops of ricotta. The combination was amazing. I haven't had a slice in half a decade and I am still craving it as I write this post. What to do when I get out to Brooklyn about once every 2 years? Well, I can stuff some homemade pasta with the same ingredients and smother them in a homemade marinara sauce to bring some of the magic to my own kitchen.

I used Chef Chiarello's recipe for pappardelle pasta dough, found here, although I tweaked it by adding an extra 1/3 cup of each flour. The dough was wetter, but also more forgiving than other doughs I've tried. We decided to split the dough in half and use half of it to make capellini, which was lovely with a garlic, olive oil, italian sausage and broccolini sauce. The other half made nearly 3 dozen 3.5" tortellonis, so if you use the whole pasta dough for tortellonis it should yield almost 6 dozen. That is hours and hours of pasta shaping. As it was it took me 3 hours to make 35 tortelloni.

Homemade stuffed pasta is not incredibly difficult to make, so much as it is time consuming. One thing to keep in mind when making tortelloni: dust everything with ample flour; I set my finished ones on a wax paper lined sheet tray dusted with plenty of both ap flour and semolina flour. Also, if you'd like to make your own sauteed, chopped spinach, start with 8 ounces baby spinach and wilt in a pan with about 1 Tablespoon olive oil for about 8 minutes, then allow to cool before wrapping in cheese cloth and squeezing moisture out (as much as possible).

I served mine with a homemade marinara.

Spinach, Ricotta and Roasted Garlic Stuffed Tortelloni

12 ounces pasta dough, rolled down to the 3 thickness setting on a pasta roller and cut into 3.5" circles, using a pint glass or other wide-mouth glass
8 ounces chopped baby spinach
5 ounces dry ricotta (try to get the kind with less whey)
Paste of 1 small head of roasted garlic
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Mix together ricotta, spinach, roasted garlic paste, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
2. Form tortelloni: set 1/2 Teaspoon ricotta mixture in center of 3.5" circle. Then wipe the edges with water, to help them stick. Bring top and bottom of circle up together and join. Press the edges around the filling, so that the filling forms a bump in an otherwise half moon shape. Set the half moon on the table so the rounded edge is facing toward the top of your pastry board. Gently tug on the corners of each edge to stretch them out a little. Brush water on the inside of one corner and the outside of the other and join over the lump made by the filling. Press together well, then roll the extra edge of pasta down over the back of the lump (this might be clearer in the picture). Once all tortellonis are formed bring a pot of water to boil and salt it well. Cook the tortelloni to desired doneness. I cooked mine for about 7 or 8 minutes and they were just slightly al dente.
3. Serve in broth or topped with your favorite sauce.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

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