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Making pasta: Spinach and ricotta tortellini

March 22, 2011

Feeling adventurous and having purchased some spectacularly cheap ricotta from Fruit and Veg City, I decided to make a spinach and ricotta pasta dish. I played with the idea of cannelloni but after the delicious version I tried at Mezzaluna, decided to go for tortellini.

Unfortunately my pasta machine is still in the UK, but this recipe proves that you don’t need one to make delicious, home made pasta – although it would probably be a little nicer thinner which is more easily achieved with a machine. In fact a rolling pin would probably be better…but a bottle of wine and a strong pair of male arms will suffice (note to self, buy rolling pin!).

Home made spinach and ricotta tortellini in tomato sauce

Makes enough for 2 dinner portions plus 2 light lunches, so roughly 3 full portions.


For the pasta:
250g flour (specific pasta flour if you can get it, but I couldn’t so it was just plain)
3 medium-large eggs (make sure they are FREE RANGE people!!! Or face my wrath)
1 tsp salt.
1 egg to seal tortellini

For the tortellini filling

100g ricotta
2 handfuls of baby spinach or equivalent in chopped, normal spinach – wilted.
25g grated parmesan or equivalent.
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper

For the tomato sauce

1 tin of chopped tomatoes (I actually used equivalent in passata because it needed using!)
1 onion, chopped finely.
2 cloves of garlic
Sprinkle of general dried italian herbs (oregano/basil/thyme/marjoram mix)
A good handful of fresh basil, chopped.
Salt and pepper

(pasta recipe based on Basic pasta dough from Nadine Abensur – The Cranks bible – awesome, awesome book!)

Mix the eggs with the flour and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic – takes around 10 minutes.
Wrap in cling film to stop it drying out and leave for half an hour.
Whilst the pasta is waiting, mix the ricotta with the spinach and parmesan and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper – place in the fridge until the pasta is ready.
Prepare the sauce by chopping and softening the onion and garlic over low heat in a little olive oil. Add the tomatoes and reduce.
Split dough in two for ease of handling and roll out on a flour dusted work surface. Roll in one direction rather than back and forth, turn 90 degrees and repeat until dough is as thin as you can get it. Alternatively, work the dough through a pasta machine.
Cut circles out of the dough (a wine glass is perfect for this – as well as choosing copious amounts of wine over a rolling pin, I’m also too cheap to buy cutters!)
Place 3/4 of a teaspoon of ricotta mix in to the centre of each pasta circle. Fold over into a semi circle and seal the edges with a little egg/squeeze shut. Fold the edges of the semi circle in and wrap around the filling to the typical tortellini shape (see pictures, its quite hard to explain, if all else fails, just leave as semi circles).

The tortellini folded and ready to cook!

Cook the tortellini for 3 minutes in boiling water.
Whilst they are cooking, warm the tomato sauce, add the fresh basil and pour into the bottom of pasta bowls.
Serve the tortellini on top of the tomato sauce – I think we had about 10 per person. Garnish with a little fresh basil and parmesan and accompany with a glass of light pinotage/merlot.

The finished dish - topped with lots of fresh basil and parmesan.


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