Shaping Tortellini (Plus an Early Spring Recipe)

Cook, How-To, In Season, Learn, Sicily, Spring, Tips & Techniques

Stuffed pasta shapes run the gamut, as last week’s primer proved. For example, Italians enjoy both tortellini and tortelloni; the latter is simply a larger version of the tiny, more familiar former shape.


Tortelloni can be round, square or triangular. The dough is cut into squares or circles, and then filled and folded in the same “little hat” fashion as tortellini. Learn to shape the pastas using the step-by-step guide below, then scroll down for a perfect recipe to try with spring’s first asparagus.


Cut the pasta into squares
Place a pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface and cut it into 2-inch squares. Lay the squares on a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet, spacing them apart so they don’t touch.
Fill the pasta squares
Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each square. Dip a pastry brush in cool water and lightly brush around the filling; this acts as a glue that keeps the filling tightly sealed inside the pasta.
Fold into triangles
Fold a corner of the dough over the filling to enclose it and form a triangle shape. If the edges of the pasta don’t touch, remove a little of the filling.
Seal the triangles
Using your fingers, mold the dough around the filling to eliminate any air pockets (these could cause the tortellini to burst). Press the edges of dough together firmly to seal.
Bring the points together
Bring the 2 opposite points of the triangle together to form a circle and pinch the points together to seal.
Curl back the top point
For a decorative look, use your fingers to curl back the third point slightly so that each piece resembles a peaked cap. Place the tortellini in a single layer, not touching, on a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet.


Goat Cheese Tortelloni with Asparagus


The asparagus in this recipe should be cooked until fully tender to meld with the silky cream sauce.


For the filling:

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/2 lb. fresh goat cheese

2 large egg yolks

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grana padano or aged Asiago cheese

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper


1 recipe egg pasta


For the sauce:

1 lb. asparagus, tough ends removed

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

2 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Kosher salt for cooking pasta

Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving


To make the filling, place the ricotta in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours to drain off as much excess moisture as possible. Discard the liquid and transfer the ricotta to a bowl. Add the goat cheese and egg yolks and mix well. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover and refrigerate.


Make the pasta dough as directed to yield 1 pound, cut into quarters, and roll out 2 quarters. Cut the dough sheets into 3-inch squares and assemble the tortelloni as directed above.


To make the sauce, in a frying pan, combine the asparagus with water to cover and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cut into 2-inch lengths. In a frying pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the cream and goat cheese, and season with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring, until heated through and the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat; cover to keep warm.


In a large pot, bring 5 quarts water to a rapid boil. Meanwhile, smear a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a warmed large, shallow serving bowl. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt to the boiling water and gently drop in half of the tortelloni, then cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil, uncover and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat as needed to prevent the tortelloni from knocking against one another. The total cooking time should be 3 to 5 minutes. Test a tortellono for doneness, then lift out the tortelloni with a large slotted spoon, allowing a little of the water to cling to them, and transfer to the serving bowl. Pour half of the sauce evenly over them and cover the bowl to keep warm. Cook the remaining tortelloni and top with the remaining sauce. Serve right away. Pass the additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table. Serves 4 to 6.



6 comments about “Shaping Tortellini (Plus an Early Spring Recipe)

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