Well, it took me a while to decide to go back home and find something to do...of course there is plenty to do, yet, I wanted to stay outside, so I took the opportunity to collect my first ricotta delivery of the season from Tom Calver of Westcombe dairy and have a cuppa at Sam's Kitchen in Bath. I procrastinated further and met friends I had not seen all summer long, having spent 5 weeks in Italy, but now I am back in the kitchen and looking forward to making tortelloni with the ricotta and some of the wonderfully scented dried porcini mushrooms (boletus family) that a friend gave me back in Italy.
Mauro and his daughter Selena could find mushrooms even if there were none for miles around...it must be something in the DNA that allows them to feel the mushrooms even before they manage to see them as they are hiding among the leaves and the ferns in the woods. It is a pity I cannot post online the smell of porcini, you would immediately picture a dish of steaming tagliatelle in a rifugio up in the Dolomites! As the porcini are dried, you need to soak them for at least 15 minutes in hot water, or a couple of hours in cold water. Frankly I prefer using cold water, unless I am pressed for time.
Parsley from the garden and Parmesan cheese complete the filling. Be cautious with your Parmesan, especially if it is aged, as the flavour can be quite overpowering and will cover up any other taste. Some people would also add one egg, but as Tom's ricotta has the perfect texture, I prefer not to. Of course, if you can only find ricotta in supermarkets, do add one egg, as it will help holding the filling together during cooking.
Serves 4-6 (depending on appetite and on what comes next)
2 eggs pasta dough with added saffron powder
60g dried porcini mushrooms (soaked weight)
50g parmesan, grated
1tbsp parsley, finely chopped
black pepper & salt (and a tiny bit of nutmeg if wanted)
10-15 sage leaves
Make the pasta dough following the recipe. Today I had very large eggs, about 72g each, so I had to use 110g of pasta flour per egg, and possibly I could have added a bit more as the dough was a bit on the soft side of things, which may seem a good thing to begin with, until is starts sticking to the rolling pin and the tagliere. Leave the dough to rest. In the meantime prepare the filling by chopping finely the soaked porcini and parsley and grating the Parmesan. Add to the ricotta into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, mix well and leave. You could do this several hours before you fill the tortelloni.
Once the filling is ready and the pasta dough has relaxed, roll out onto a work surface until it reaches the desired thickness (which for tortelloni should not be too thin). If you need to, finish off rolling using a pasta machine. For more details on how to roll your pasta dough, you can refer to the general recipe of pasta on the website. Using a knife cut squares of approximately 7cm x 7cm and fill them with ricotta. Do not be tempted to overfill or you'll regret it later on when you start closing the squares to make tortelloni. You can alternatively make triangular ravioli, by simply folding the square overlapping the opposite corners.
Now that you have the tortelloni ready, you can cook them in plenty boiling salted water until they surface and season them using melted butter where you have fried the sage leaves until crunchy. Do not throw the leaves away as they crate a delicious texture contrast in the mouth, and they also are incredibly tasty.
Accompany this dish with a nice Merlot or Chianti.