Monday, November 18, 2013

Mixed Cheese Tortellini with Red Pepper Pesto

Basic Pasta Recipe:

(Serves 4-6 people)

500 g strong white bread flour
5 large free-range eggs
extra white bread flour, for dusting surface
pinch of fine salt

Making the dough by hand: Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs and fine salt into the middle. Using a fork, break up the eggs, mixing from the centre outwards. Now start to take more and more flour from the outsides working the dough with your hands until it comes together and becomes smooth and elastic. This takes about 2-3 minutes of kneading on a floured surface. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and allow it to rest in the fridge for 60 minutes.

The next step is to role the pasta out with a pasta machine. Remove your dough from the fridge and work it on a floured surface until smooth and pliable again. Divide the dough into manageable portions, three to four balls. Now set the pasta machine on the  widest setting and role one of the pasta balls through once.
Set the pasta machine to the next setting to roll an even thinner sheet. Roll the pasta sheet once. Continue like this until your pasta sheet is about 1 mm thick.

Use a damp cloth to keep the pasta dough from drying out as your are cutting and rolling your pasta sheets.
I generally use a cookie cutter to cut my pasta in round shapes.

Prepare the filling: The filling is very easy to prepare. I like to use some strong cheese like finely grated Parmesan, ricotta, pecorino and even a mature cheddar. Mix the grated cheese in a bowl and add a bunch of freshly chopped basil and salt and pepper. You can be creative with the combination and cheeses, but try to not use too much of one cheese as the flavour can become quite over-powering. A binding cheese that is moist like ricotta, works well to bind the other cheeses together.

Brush the circles of pasta with some egg and place a teaspoon of filling onto the centre of every circle. 

Now fold the pasta circle into a half circle, sealing it well on the edges. Add a little more egg to the sharp points of the half circle and pinch those two points together. Set aside and continue with all your circles.

To cook: Bring a big pot of well salted water to the boil and quickly boil your Tortellini until they float to the top of the water (5-10 minutes). I always taste one just to be sure that they are cooked through.
Drain the Tortellini and while still hot, mix them with a pesto of your choice. Serve with an extra drizzle of good quality olive oil, Parmesan shavings, soft herbs and some freshly ground black pepper.

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