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Tortelli di Zucca alla Mantovani

Tortelli di Zucca are the pride of the Christmas Eve table in Mantua,


Tortelli Filling

1 pound Acorn squash or pumpkin

1/4 cup crushed amaretti cookies

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

4 tablespoons quince jam

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Tortelli Dough

4 large eggs

3 cups unbleached, all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt


Butter and Sage Sauce  (for 2 dozen tortelli)

1 stick butter

4 or 5 fresh whole sage leaves

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese



To make the filling... preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut the squash or pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and discard. Place the halves cut side down in a small baking dish, add ½ cup water, and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 35 minutes or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Let cool. With a spoon, scoop out the pulp and place in a colander; let it drain for 45 minutes.

Transfer the squash to a bowl and mash it well. Add the amaretti cookies, breadcrumbs, egg, jam, nutmeg, salt, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the pasta... combine the flour with the salt and mound it on a work surface. Make a hole in the center of the flour and break the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork. Then, using the fork, gradually incorporate the flour from the inside walls of the flour. When the dough becomes too firm to mix with the fork, knead it with your hands, incorporating just enough of the flour to make a soft but not sticky dough. You may not need all the flour. Brush the excess flour aside and knead the dough (adding additional flour as necessary) until smooth. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Knead the dough again for about 4 minutes and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered. Roll each piece out to the thinnest setting on a pasta machine, or roll it out with a rolling pin on a floured surface to a thickness of 1/8 inch.

Cut the dough into  3 inch squares. Place a generous teaspoon of the filling in the center of each rectangle, fold the rectangles in half o make a triangle shape. Pinch the edges well to seal in the filling and place the triangles on a floured towel. Gather the dough scraps into a ball and reroll them to make more tortelli.

To cook... bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook two dozen tortelli at a time, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they rise to the surface. Drain them carefully with a slotted spoon and place them on a lint free cotton towel lined baking sheet.

Melt the butter in a medium size saute pan; add the sage and press on the leaves to release their flavor; add the tortelli and gently toss until well coated with the sauce and hot. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle them with the cheese. Serve immediately.

To freeze... arrange the tortelli in a single layer on floured baking sheets, cover with foil, and freeze until hard. Transfer them to plastic bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Do not defrost them before boiling (they will take a little longer to cook).



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