Zucca or pumpkin, combined with parmesan cheese and amaretti cookies are used as the filling for this unique recipe that comes from Northern Italy, and has always been one of my favorites. This is a wonderful recipe to make in the fall when winter squash can be found everywhere, and is particularly suited for entertaining since you can prepare most of the recipe ahead of time and then just cook the pasta, and add the sauce and toppings before serving.
Tortelli, used in this recipe, are basically a square shaped stuffed pasta, like ravioli. I cannot always find fresh cooking (pie) pumpkins in my grocery stores, but I found butternut squash works out just as well. Canned pumpkin should be an adequate substitution, but I always try to use fresh ingredients if possible. To cook your squash, cut in half and roast covered at 350 degrees F. until tender. Scoop out the seeds and throw away. Spoon the flesh into a sieve and let drain for 20 to 30 minutes to remove excess liquids. You will only need two cups of squash for this recipe so store the remainder in the refrigerator for another use. The simple sauce is comprised of sweet butter and fresh sage leaves, and all that is needed when serving is a sprinkling of crushed amaretti cookies, chopped hazelnuts, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
I have made my tortelli by hand in the past but recently came across this form I found works really well. Once the dough has been rolled to the desired thickness simply lay one strip across the form and use the press to create indentations for the filling. Spoon a teaspoon of filling into each indentation, then layer on another strip of dough. By using a small roller across the form you create perfectly even tortelli. See photos below!
Pasta Squares Filled And Cut
Pasta Ready To Be Cooked
Ingredients For Sauce And Topping
Deborah Mele 2011
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
- 3 Extra Large Eggs
- 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 2 Cups Cooked Butternut Squash
- 4 Amaretti Cookies
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- Dash of Cinnamon
- 1 Egg
- Salt & Pepper
- 3 oz. Sweet Butter
- 4 Large Fresh Sage Leaves- Finely Shredded
- Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Toasted Hazelnuts (See Note Below)
- 3 Amaretti Cookies, Crumbled
- Place the flour into a mound with a crater in the center and break the eggs into the hole you created one by one using a fork to mix the eggs into the flour mixture.
- Once the dough begins to come together, use your hands and knead the dough for a couple of minutes until smooth.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit while you prepare the filling.
- Cook the onions in the butter until translucent.
- Crush the amaretti cookies in a food processor, then add the squash, onions, egg, honey, cinnamon, and parmesan cheese, and just pulse until completely mixed.
- Season with a little salt and pepper, and store in the refrigerator until needed.
- Break off about one third of the dough and either roll by hand or use a pasta roller and roll the dough until it is almost thin enough to see through. (I use a roller attachment on my Kitchen Aid table mixer and roll the dough to the second last width of the roller.)
- Cut the sheets in usable lengths about 12 inches long, and place on a pasta form if using.
- Use the press to create indentations, and then drop small spoonfuls of the filling into each indentation created being careful not to overfill the spaces.
- Use a pastry brush and brush the edges with water.
- Place another strip of thin dough on top of the filled layer and press out air pockets with your fingers.
- Use a small rolling pin and roll over the form to create cuts between the tortelli.
- Carefully remove the filled pasta pillows from the form and place on a lightly floured surface.
- If making by hand, lay a strip of thin pasta on a lightly floured surface and drop spoonfuls of the filling evenly spaced about every three inches along the side closest to you.
- Dampen the dough around the filling with water, then fold the dough over and seal each mound, pressing out the air with your fingertips as you go.
- Cut between the filling, and press the edges lightly to seal.
- Place the cut pasta pillows on a lightly floured tray until ready to use.
- Melt the butter with the sage leaves until it begins to brown, and keep warm over low heat while you cook the pasta.
- Cook the filled pasta in boiling, salted water for about 6 minutes or just until al dente.
- Remove from the water with a slotted spoon.
- Toss the pasta lightly with the warm sage-perfumed butter, and serve with a dusting of grated Parmesan, a sprinkling of crushed amaretti and chopped hazelnuts.
Note: If you want to make the pasta ahead, sprinkle lightly with flour, and spread out on a towel lined basket and store in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. To toast hazelnuts, lay them out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Place the nuts in a clean towel and rub to remove the skins. Chop and set aside until needed.