How to make… Tortellini

Apparently inspired by the image of Venus’s navel, Tortellini are  a ring-shaped stuffed pasta.

Although they can be a little time consuming to make, they are really not difficult and are well worth the effort, especially for entertaining.

Tortellini look great, can be stuffed with a variety of fillings, served in a broth or a pasta sauce.  What’s more, they freeze well and once you get into a rhythm can be turned out quite quickly.

When it comes to size, it’s really up to you.  I’ve had success with small squares of pasta 4-5cm across, but these take forever to create and don’t accept very much filling.  I much prefer using 7cm squares, which is half the width if a sheet of pasta coming off my pasta roller.

A 7 cm square of pasta takes around a half teaspoon of stuffing and is easy to seal, making around 40-50 tortellini from 200g of pasta dough, enough for a course for 2-4 people, dependent upon situation

I prefer not to roll the pasta dough out to the thinnest setting – it’s just too easy to puncture. Using the next setting up is fine, and fresh tortellini rolled to this setting take around 5-6 minutes to cook

How to make Tortellini:

  • Start by rolling out your pasta to the required thickness in small batches.  If you’re using 200g of pasta dough, only roll out half ad leave the rest in the fridge or by the time you’re ready to stuff the last lot, they’ll have dried out and will crack
  • Lay a sheet of pasta on a board and with a sharp knife square off the ends.  Cut down the pasta into squares (I’d recommend about 7 cm, or half the width of the sheet)
  • Use some egg wash and a pastry brush to paint 2 edges of each pasta square, ready for sealing
  • In the centre of each square, add the filling of your choice (about half a teaspoon is fine for 7 cm squares of pasta)
  • Take one corner of the square and fold over to the corner diagonally opposite and pinch together
  • Working from this corner down to the fold, pinch together the edges taking care to squeeze out all of the air
  • Repeat with the other side.  If you have too much filling, it should squeeze out of the bottom corner – this is OK as long as you complete the seal
  • Once properly sealed, you’re ready to make your ‘ring’.  Put your forefinger on top of the parcel over the fold and bring the 2 corners together over your finger.  Squeeze together between thumb & forefinger
  • Voila!  Your first tortellini.  Set aside on a floured board and repeat with remaining pasta

Important things to note:-

  • If your pasta is too sticky, it will be difficult to pinch the edges together to make a good seal as tha pasta would rather stick to your fingers that the egg wash.  Err on the dry side
  • Make the tortellini in small batches and keep them in the fridge to prevent drying out
  • To prevent the finished tortellini from sticking together, sprinkle with cornmeal/semolina or flour
  • Your priority is to get all of the air out of the parcel to prevent them from exploding when cooked
  • Once you think you’ve finished, check all of the tortellini again.  You’ll probably find one or 2 seals which haven’t quite worked
  • Tortellini can be cooked directly in a broth, and although this may make the broth go cloudy, it won’t matter so much of the tortellinis split or aren’t sealed properly (there’s nothing worse than finding your tortellini full of warm water and no filling…)
  • The pasta doesn’t need too much cooking – always use fillings which have already been cooked and just need eating through
  • Be wary of fillings which are coarse or have sharp lumps (e.g., nuts) which may puncture the pasta
  • Need some ideas for fillings?  Try these!

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