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Heaven is a Plate of Tortellini

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If Adam and Eve renounced Heaven for an apple, what would they have given for a plate of tortellini?

© 1531 Lucas Cranach for FXcuisine.com

Muslims, Jews and Christians all agree that the parents of humanity, Adam and Eve, lost their place in the Garden of Eden after Eve was tempted by a snake into eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When they were cast out of heaven, little did they know of the many culinary delights to come on this earth. How can a apple compare to a plate of tortellini?

If we all are locked out of heaven for an apple somebody ate thousand of years ago, I say let's make this earth our own heaven. With a little work there is no limit to the amazing things you can make with what you find under the sun.

These are pumpkin raviolis in the tradition of Cremona, city of Stradivarius and of many sweet-and-savory dishes. First we make the filling because it can wait while the pasta dough cannot. Roast a pumpkin in the oven, peel and scrape 1kg of flesh. Add 100gr crushed amaretti, 100gr grated Parmesan, 100gr raisins and 100gr mostarda, a sort of Northern Italian pickle you can buy in little jars. Season with a little grated nutmeg.

Chop everything together. Do not use a mixer, you want to keep some texture.

Cover and leave in the fridge until ready, if possible overnight or at least one hour.

On our Earth we turn volcanos into instruments of delight. Make a little volcano with about 500gr flour (white flour and a little semolina) and add the eggs.

Beat the eggs.

Amalgamate the eggs with the flour.

When the eggs do not risk running off the volcano any more, cover with the flour on the sides of the volcano. Continue until you start to have a solid mass and add the remaining flour.

Avoid using the little lumps that remain on your fingers as these will puncture your dough.

Stop when you have a solid, smooth ball. You may have to add a little water (teaspoon by teaspon) or some more flour to get the texture right. This very much depends on the size of your eggs, but as a rule of thumb one large eggs requires about 100gr of flour. Wrap in foil and leave to rest in the fridge 30 to 60 minutes.

Use a large rolling pin to flatten the dough with swift front to back movements. You don't want to squeeze the dough by resting on top your rolling pin like an anvil but rather encourage it to expand by stroking it back and forth. If you push too much you'll break it. Of course one could use a pasta machine but since you may not have one I show you how to do it with a rolling pin. Continue until the dough is less than 1mm thick.

Prepare the filling, a glass and a spoon.

With the glass cut circles from the dough. On the picture I cut one out and inverted the glass, you can see the disc of dough covering the glass until you put your finger in it. I wish to stress that my pasta dough is by no means perfect and I would have wanted a smoother and thinner dough, but that's it.

Take a disc of pasta in your hand and add a small spoonful of filling well off center but keeping clear of the edge. Don't try to put too much dough or you'll break the dough and lose the tortellino.

Fold in half.

Now for a hard decision. The tradition of Cremona calls for tortelli (no 'N'), which are exactly this, a disc of dough filled and folded in half. End of story. But I like tortellini better, so that's what I made. join both ends of the tortelli over your little finger like on the picture. Press well to seal the edges off and for the tortellino to keep its shape. You can wet your fingers with water to help.

That's it - your first tortellino. What an emotion! Better than those overhyped Heaven Apples if you ask me.

Continue until you run out of filling...

... or of dough. Use the remains of your pasta sheet and filling by boiling the former and using the latter as a sauce. Italians call this maltagliati 'miscut'.

These tortellini are so good that anything but the most subtle sauce will only ruin the balance of flavors. Melt as much butter as your diet can afford and lightly heat sage leaves.

No frying, no high heat, we merely infuse the fat-soluble flavor of the sage into the butter.

The end is near now. Bring to a fiery boil as much salted water as your largest pot will contain. Delicately - DELICATELY - immerge your tortellini into the water, if possible using a slotted spoon. Boil them for about 1 minute. Remove them with a slotted spoon. Do NOT pour the entire pot down the drain over some sieve or you'll break your tortellini.

Plate the tortellini.

Add some sage butter. I leave the sage leaves otherwise guests wonder where that delicious-taste-I-can't-quite-place is coming from.

You can add a little of your best parmesan, finely grated on top.

If Adam and Eve had known what we eat here on this fine earth, they would have jumped right off Heaven. Not only do we have unlimited apples, but we can make our own heaven on earth with a plate of tortellini.



  • #1
  • Comment by lele
These are tortelloni, there is a big difference between tortellini and tortelloni.I'm italian from the city of tortellini and Pavarotti (Modena). Tortellini are made with meat, parmesan and ham then boiled in broth of hen. Ravioli are another kind of dish!
  • #2
  • Comment by maria lorenzo
I love this article and the recipe include!Congratullations! It´s very precise, educational and...delicious!HAVE A NICE 2008!
  • #3
  • Answered by fx
Thank you Maria and have a great 2008 too!
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
Indeed lele, in Italian tortellini, tortelloni and tortelli are three different things, like I explained in my article. But in English the word is tortellini even when not cooked in broth Bologna-style. Only fine people such as me and you would have understood if I had titled the article "Heaven is a plate of tortelloni". Thanks for your visit and valid point anyway!
  • #5
  • Comment by lele
ok Francois,I belive your blog is so good!ciaoo
  • #6
  • Comment by J
Great photos!  Very helpful!! Looks like a great recipe...will try it for sure.  I even liked how you added historical artwork and a story about Adam & Eve.  Clever and creative!  But did you know that that Garden of Eden was on earth...and it was the Garden of Eden they lived in and were kicked out of not heaven?  There were a couple of other details you mentioned that weren't right on too.  It's a fascinating story about humanity with lots of insights into how we live and make choices even today.  You should check it out...I think you'd be interested in seeing how the story really goes!!  It's a pretty popular story, so if you are going to use it in a public forum, you might want to be sure you are familiar with it, that's all.  Just a tip!Thanks for the recipe!
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
Thanks J, I had forgotten most about the Garden of Eden, being absorbed by my heavenly plate of tortellinis! What would be the best source for the real deal about Eden?
  • #8
  • Comment by Catherine
FX, you really must be pretty absorbed in that plate of tortellinis. The best source would be, well, the Bible. ;)
Wow those are just gorgeous. Tortelloni or tortellini, I don't care what they are called. They are one of my most favorite pastas and now I can't wait to try making them myself. I've never made fresh pasta before and I really want to try!
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
Elise good luck for your first fresh pasta, it is much easier than people think and once you start you'll never stop! A small pasta machine makes it really easy but all you need is a rolling pin and the proper moves. Don't crush the pasta under the rolling pin but rather stretch it gradually with many quick moves. Good luck!
Thank you for this fabulously illustrated and helpful explanation! I just started making pasta and absolutely love it, now I must try this recipe.
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
Astrid, thanks for visiting! You should have no trouble at all making your own pasta after having made inverted puff pastry like Pierre Hermé. It's simple and enjoyable, and yields results way above anything you can buy in a shop. I recommend you buy one of these little pasta machines, I've seen some on the top floor at Globus in Zurich. Doing it entirely by hand takes ages to give really good results, I'm sure you'll try but you might be disappointed, whereas the pasta machine makes smooth, silk-like pasta sheets.
Thanks for your response! I do have a pasta machine (attachment to my Kitchenaid), and love it. But not sure I have your patience with the shaping (now if it were dessert, that would be another story altogether).
I just recently discovered your blog, and am very impressed. Loved the post on the inside view of Coop's baking facilities. Wow!
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
Astrid, the shaping is the fun part, it's great to do with other people and not boring at all. Once I invited 5 people and we all made these tortellinis together, they were very pleased!
  • #15
  • Comment by Mami
I know this is an old one, but this is how I found fxcusine.  Having just returned from Bologna with a newly acquired pasta machine, I was so keen to make many types of pasta.  Especially pumpkin tortellini with butter, sage and parmesan - indeed what a heavenly dish!  Thank you for sharing this recipe :)
  • FX's answer→ Yes those pumpkin raviolis must be my favorites too!

  • #17
  • Comment by Damiano
Bell'articolo, però la città di origine dei tortelli di zucca non è Cremona ma la mia Mantova, la ricetta classica non prevede l'uvetta e la mostarda dev'essere quella di mele cotogne.
La forma in genere è rettangolare (tipo ravioli) ma in alcune parti della provincia si usa la forma a tortellino o addirittura a caramella. Oltre che col burro fuso vengono conditi col sugo di pomodoro o perfino con un ragù di salamella.
Scusa la pedanteria ma sai che noi Italiani a queste cose ci teniamo :)
  • FX's answer→ Beh, tieni ragione Damiano, e lo so che in Italia le ricette di tradizioni sono particolarissime, però è anche vero che in Italia c'è una variazione della misma ricetta ogni 30 kilometri con un nome differente. Credo che la ricetta che ho usato qui l'aveveva trovata in un libro delle edizioni Slow Food, di stretta obedianza "Slow" anche loro. Mi dica cosa devo visitare a Mantova, mi piacerebbe vedere questa bella tua città un di!

  • #19
  • Comment by Surya Mary Sam
Thanks for sharing this recipe. These pictures look amazing and brought back memories of our Italian trip. I found Italy such a warm and friendly place and loved the cuisine. In our part of the world, getting these ingredients is quite difficult, but I would still love to try this recipe, maybe using some alternative ingredients for the filling. Thanks again.
  • #20
  • Comment by cici
I tried this recipe since it looks so delicious. But I'm sorry to say: it's too sweet for our taste (I followed the recipe strictly). Actually I found quite a few recipes here, although extremely eye-appealing, are a bit too heavy and sweet for most Europeans (I'm not, but I lived in Switzerland and my close friends are all Europeans). The preparations for most Italian dishes also seem to be over-complicated, which really doesn't fit in the general principle of Italian cooking (best ingredients + simple cooking).

For pumpkin ravioli recipes, I would strongly recommend the one from Marcella's book which tastes much lighter and balanced.  The sweetness is perfectly complemented by a good amount of Parmiggiano and a pair of Amaretti, together with the freshness impart from chopped parsley.
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Great stuff!

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