Fresh tortellini starts with great homemade pasta. This is a step-by-step guide to making the perfect dough.
Fresh pasta, when it’s right, it’s soft and just melts in your mouth. It is really not as difficult to make as it seems and when you’re done, you feel proud that you made something from scratch that the Italians have been doing for centuries.
Firstly, the dough is just 2 ingredients, eggs and flour. You start with a mound of flour and you make a well for the eggs.
Then using a fork, start to beat the eggs incorporating a little flour with each movement.
While the egg is still in liquid form, with your other hand, keep the outsides of the flour mound in tact so the eggs don’t run out.
When the egg is no longer liquid, you can start using your hands to mix. Start to knead the dough using the palm of your hand. You don’t have to use all of the flour if the dough doesn’t need it, use only enough flour so the dough is not sticky.
Continue kneading the dough for about 3 minutes until the dough is smooth, this kneading is important to ensure soft pasta.
When the dough has been kneaded for 3 minutes it should be soft and smooth, cover well with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
After the dough has rested, cut off a 1/4 piece and shape into a rectangle with your hands. With your pasta machine on the largest setting (usually 1), run the dough through 2 or 3 times. Turn to the next narrowest setting and repeat. As the dough gets longer, help the dough out of the bottom of the machine and spread out so it doesn’t stick to itself. Repeat this process until you’re at the narrowest setting and the dough is thin enough to see your fingers through. Lay the dough out on a floured surface and using a 3 to 4 inch cookie cutter, cut out circles and lay out on a floured surface.
Using the egg wash, brush the half of the round nearest to you. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon of the ricotta mixture into the center. Fold the edge closest to you over the filling to meet the other side, press to seal the edge. Take the left and right corners and twist them around to meet each other, stick them together using a dab of egg wash with your finger. You just made your first tortellino (that’s what you call 1 tortellini).
Ingredients (makes 1 pound of pasta and 32 tortellini) print recipe
For the dough
- 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 4 extra large eggs, room temperature
For the filling
- 8 oz fresh ricotta
- 1 extra large egg
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Small pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
For the dough
- On a clean work surface, make a mound with the flour and create a well in the middle and add the eggs.
- Using a fork, beat the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour from the inner rim of the mound, making sure the mound stays intact with the other hand.
- The dough will start to come together and once there is no more liquid use your hands to start kneading the dough with the palm of your hands.
- Do not force the dough to take all the flour, just until the dough comes together and is not too sticky to handle.
- If the dough does take all the flour and is still too sticky, add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Continue to knead for 3 minutes, the kneading is what makes the dough nice and light.
- Once the dough is nice and soft and smooth, wrap it in plastic wrap, making sure it is well wrapped so no areas of the dough dry out.
- Set aside for 20 minutes to rest.
For the filling
- In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients until well incorporated. Set aside.
To roll out the pasta dough
- Dust your work surface with flour.
- Cut a 1/4 piece of the dough, keep the unused portion of the dough well covered until ready to use. Flatten the piece of dough with your hands into a small rectangle in preparation for passing through a pasta machine.
- With your pasta machine on the widest setting (usually 1), pass the dough through 2 or 3 times, guiding with your hands as it comes out, keeping it flat.
- If the dough gets sticky, dust with flour.
- Reduce the setting by 1 number and pass the dough through 2 or 3 times.
- Repeat until you reach the narrowest setting and the dough is thin, so you can see your fingers through it.
- Lay the dough out on your floured work surface.
- Using a 3-4 inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles and set off to the side on a floured surface.
- Brush half of the edges of the rounds closest to you with the egg wash.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of the ricotta mixture to the center of each.
- Fold the egg wash half of the circle over the ricotta to meet the other side.
- Bring the corners around to the bottom to meet and stick them together using egg wash.
- On an empty shelf of your freezer, spread out parchment paper and put the tortellini in a single layer, without touching and freeze for 1 hour. This makes them easy to handle and they wont stick together.
- Transfer the tortellini to a freezer bag or container and either store them in the freezer, or if you are using them right away, cook in simmering water until they float to the top, about 5-7 minutes and serve with marinara sauce (recipe).