Tortelli con la coda
Tortelli filled with ricotta and spinach are made throughout Emilia-Romagna and are formed into different shapes according to where you happen to be in the region.
Here in Piacenza, I have to say, tortelli con la coda – literally tortelli with the tail – is arguably the most eye-catching variation. But I live here, so I might be biased.
This dish is for when you have a little extra time on a Saturday and you want to make something really special. It takes a little practice to get right, admittedly, but persevere and your guests are sure to be impressed!
Recipe by Mario Matassa.
➤ SERVES 4
➤ PREPARATION 40 minutes
➤ COOKING 15 minutes
FOR THE PASTA:
- 500g plain flour
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 50ml olive oil
- pinch of salt
FOR THE FILLING
- 50g baby spinach leaves
- 200g ricotta
- 100g grana or parmesan
- sprinkling of nutmeg
- To make the filling, lightly blanch the spinach leaves, drain and dry well with kitchen roll. Add the ricotta and parmesan, a good pinch of nutmeg and salt and mix everything together. Place in the fridge while you make the pasta.
- Place the flour on a large work surface and make a well in the middle. Break the eggs into the well, add the oil and a tsp of salt and with a fork beat together the mixture, gradually drawing in a little flour. As you draw the flour into the beaten eggs, mix them together and the mixture will begin to thicken to a consistency that allows you to use your hands to knead everything together. Knead until you have a smooth consistency. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- After resting, if using a pasta machine (which is by far the easiest way) cut off a peach-sized ball of dough and begin feeding it through the largest setting of the pasta machine. Fold the pasta sheet onto itself and feed through again. Keep repeating this step until the dough feels smooth and silky. Don’t despair if the dough seems crumbly and dry – just keep feeding it through the machine and eventually it will come together. Sprinkle over a little flour before each rolling. Once you are happy that the sheet of pasta is silky and smooth, lower the width setting and feed the pasta sheet through again. Keep lowering the width setting until you reach the thinnest setting.
- If you are rolling the dough by hand, make sure that you have a large enough work surface before you begin. Start rolling and continue until the dough is approximately 1mm in thickness. Working with one sheet of pasta at a time, use a pasta cutter to cut 5-6cm squares. Place half a teaspoon of filling centrally on each square. Place the square on the palm of your left hand and with your right hand starting at one end, with index finger and thumb bring the two ends of pasta together, pinching to seal. Work your way down, bringing one end of the pasta to join with the next until you reach the tail. It takes a little practice but persevere. (And even if it does fail, you can always make simple ravioli squares and try again another day!)
- To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil. Drop the pasta into the water. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. To serve, simply toss the pasta in a light basil pesto or melted butter with sage. Serve with extra parmesan cheese for sprinkling.
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