Lemon Ricotta Tortelloni
Rich and plump, tortelloni are a type of fresh stuffed pasta, typically filled with ricotta or pumpkin. They’re a staple in Emilia-Romagna, where fresh egg pasta reigns queen and is enjoyed on a daily basis.
You might recognize the name from their litter sister, tortellini. In Italian, the suffix –oni means big while –ini indicates a tiny version of a thing. So it goes without saying that tortelloni are simply bigger and fatter versions of tortellini and you only need a handful to satisfy your appetite.
In Bologna, there is a famous pasta shop called Le Sfogline. There, the women behind the small counter roll out fresh pasta all day long. One of their specialties is tortelloni di ricotta con limone–lemon ricotta tortelloni. Their secret? They add a pinch of lemon zest to the ricotta filling, giving the pasta a subtle brightness.
This type of pasta is best served simply in order to let the fresh pasta and lemon shine through. Here, we’ve paired it with Le Sfogline’s recommendation: a little bit of melted butter, lemon zest, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Lemon Ricotta Tortelloni
Prep time: 90 Minutes
Cook time: 5 Minutes
For the pasta:
360 grams (2 ¾ cups) of 00 flour
4 eggs, at room temperature
For the filling:
1 ¾ cup (1 pound) fresh whole milk ricotta, drained (use the best quality ricotta you can find; drain it using a cheesecloth or you can spread it out on a baking sheet, lined with a kitchen towel, letting it drain for about 30 minutes to an hour)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from about ½ a lemon)
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
To make the pasta:
Prepare the fresh egg pasta dough. (See fresh egg pasta dough recipe.)
To make the filling:
In a medium-sized bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well-incorporated. Make sure there aren’t any large clumps of cheese (if there are, blend in a food processor until smooth). Spoon the filling into a piping bag or sealable plastic bag. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To shape the tortelloni:
After the pasta dough has rested, unwrap and divide it into four quarters using a large chef’s knife or bench scraper. Remove one quarter and wrap up the remaining dough in plastic wrap.
Use a rolling pin to roll out the piece of dough into a rectangle, about a ½-inch thick. Roll the dough through the widest setting on your hand-cranked pasta machine. Roll it through the second widest and then the third widest.
Next, fold the sheet of dough crosswise, like a trifold brochure. Try to make the “brochure” the width of your pasta machine so that it easily rolls through.
Crank the folded dough through the widest setting on your pasta machine once again. Repeat, rolling it through each setting once, all the way through to the thinnest. You should now have a long rectangular sheet of pasta dough.
Cut the sheet of dough into 2½-inch squares (we recommend using an adjustable pasta wheel cutter, which will help you create perfect squares). Discard any remaining dough, or freeze the scraps for soup.
Remove the filling from the fridge. If using a sealable plastic bag, snip one corner so that you squeeze a small amount of filling through it. Pipe a teaspoon size of ricotta filling in the middle of each square.
Fold the square diagonally, into a triangle. Use your fingertips to seal around the filling first. Then, work your fingers towards the edge to seal the rest.
Next, use your index fingers and thumbs to pinch the left and right flaps down. Wrap the flaps around your fingers and gently press the flaps together to seal them to each other.
Set the finished tortelloni aside on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a clean tea towel.
To cook the tortelloni:
Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Salt the water generously.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a wide skillet. Be careful not to let it brown. Add the lemon zest.
Carefully add the tortelloni to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the melted butter sauce. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the tortelloni until coated in the lemon butter sauce.
Serve on warm plates, with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.