Pumpkin tortelli with pistachio nuts, amaretti biscuits, Parmigiano Reggiano & burnt butter
Recipe from Nino Zoccali's cookbook, Pasta Artigiana
Serves 6 (makes approximately 36 tortelli)
300 g (10½ oz) butternut pumpkin (squash)
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
150 g (5½ oz) fresh ricotta cheese
25 g (1 oz) mustard fruits, deseeded (see Note)
40 g (1½ oz) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra, to serve
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
600 g (1 lb, 5 oz)) fresh egg pasta dough (see below)
fine semolina, for dusting
150 g (5½ oz) salted butler, chopped
50 pistachio nuts, roasted and roughly crushed
2 amaretti biscuits, crushed to medium-fine breadcrumb size (these are very sweet biscuits and should be used according to personal taste)
Preheat the oven to 130°C (250°F/Gas 1).
Peel, deseed and dice the pumpkin into approximately 3 cm (1¼ inch) pieces. Place on a baking tray with the garlic and cover tightly with foil. Roast the pumpkin for 45 minutes and then uncovered for another 30-45 minutes, or until tender. Strain the liquid away and refrigerate until cool.
Remove the pumpkin from the refrigerator and squeeze out any excess liquid. Put the pumpkin in a food processor with the peeled roasted garlic, ricotta cheese, mustard fruits, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sea salt and black pepper and pulse to combine.
Roll the pasta dough sheets to less than 1 mm or 1/32 inch thickness. Cut the pasta into squares that are approximately 9 x 9 cm (3½ x 3½ inches) in size. Place a heaped teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the centre of each of the pasta squares and then fold into a triangle, making sure to press out any air. Press down on the edges so that the pasta completely seals the filling. This is quite a wet dough so pressing alone should bind the two sheets of pasta together. If it is a hot day and the pasta is drying quickly, use a pastry brush and brush a little water onto the edges of the squares before folding. This will help them stick together.
Quickly fold down the tip of the top of the triangle and roll the other two edges of the triangle together (I use my little finger as a mould for this) to form little hats. Dust with the fine semolina and place on trays lined with non-stick baking paper until ready to use. They should be made as close to serving time as possible, although they can be stored in an airtight container and frozen for later use.
Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until it becomes golden brown in colour. Set aside.
To serve, simply cook the tortelli in abundant salted boiling water until they rise to the surface. Drain and serve with the extra Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and the burnt butter sauce. Finish with a sprinkling of the crushed pistachio nuts and amaretti biscuits.
Note: this is an Italian product in which fruit is preserved in a heavy syrup that is flavoured with mustard.
Fresh egg pasta dough - Makes approximately 600 g (1 lb, 5 oz)
330 g (11½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra, for kneading
70 g (2½ oz) fine semolina
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 x 60 g (2¼ oz) free range or organic eggs
Combine the flour, semolina and sea salt and place on a work surface or large wooden board. The flour should form a peaked mound. With your hand, make a hole in the top of the mound so that it resembles a volcano. This hole needs to be big enough to be able to 'house' the eggs. Break the eggs into the hole. With your hand or with a fork, gently beat the eggs, then slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mixture. I do this by moving my hand in a circular motion, slowly incorporating the flour from the inside wall of the mound. Don't worry if the dough looks like a mess. This is normal.
Once fully combined, knead a little more flour into the dough if it feels a little wet and sticky. Set the dough aside and clean the work space. Dust some fresh flour onto the work surface and continue kneading the dough for another 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Next, roll the pasta to the desired thickness and cut into the desired shape.