Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

September 22nd, 2009 browsing by day


Val and the Homemade Tortellini

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Val and I have been trying to hook up for various cooking sessions. On our first attempt, we made homemade pasta and on Friday we tried our hand at homemade tortellini stuffed with a lemon ricotta.

Making the fresh pasta was a breeze and the filling turned out nicely, too. Next, was getting the filling into the pasta. This proved to be a little more tricky than first thought. Although we used water to seal the edges, the filling kept oozing out of many of our adorable tortellini. We tried to reseal the best we could and then put them on the grate to dry.

I suggested that we might consider frying these as opposed to boiling them, thus allowing more filling to get out of those precious pasta bundles. Val did just that and reported that they turned out perfectly. Here’s the recipe from our cooking afternoon.

Lemon Ricotta Filled Tortellini

Pasta dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 for egg wash
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cornmeal, for dusting

Lemon Ricotta Filling:

  • 8 oz container of ricotta
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 egg


To make the pasta dough: In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook*, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to mix. Drizzle in 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Sprinkle some flour on work surface, knead and fold the dough until elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

*Alternatively if you don’t have an electric mixer: Combine the flour and salt on a flat work surface; shape into a mound and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the well and lightly beat with a fork. Gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall of the well in a circular motion. Use 1 hand for mixing and the other to protect the outer wall. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Continue as directed above.

Cut the ball of dough in 1/2, cover and reserve the piece you are not immediately using to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with a little flour. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting. Pull and stretch the sheet of dough with the palm of your hand as it emerges from the rollers. Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again, 2 or 3 times. Continue tightening until the machine is at the narrowest setting; the dough should be paper-thin, about 1/8-inch thick (you should be able to see your hand through it.). Dust the sheets of dough with flour as needed.

Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Dust the counter and sheet of dough with flour, lay out the long sheet of pasta, and brush the top surface with the egg wash, which acts as a glue. Drop tablespoons of your favorite filling on 1/2 of the pasta sheet, about 2-inches apart. Fold the other 1/2 over the filling like a blanket. With an espresso cup or fingers, gently press out air pockets around each mound of filling. Use a sharp knife to cut each pillow into squares and crimp the 4 edges with the tins of a fork to make a tight seal. Dust the tortellini and a sheet pan with cornmeal to prevent the pasta from sticking and lay them out to dry slightly while assembling the rest.

Cook the tortellini in plenty of boiling salted water for 4 minutes; they’ll float to the top when ready, so be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Lift the tortellini from water with a large strainer or slotted spoon. Bathe the tortellini in your favorite sauce to lightly coat and serve.

xoxo, Patti