Recently, quite by accident, I came across a package of semolina flour. Plucking it from the shelf I thought, “this is like TOTALLY what people use to make pasta! I must have it!” As I paused to frown at the price tag (I was at Whole Foods after all) an unsmiling woman walking purposefully up the aisle with a cart full of herbs I couldn’t possibly have identified gracefully swiped 4 bags of the yellow flour into her carriage without hardly stopping. “I’m sooo glad this is back in stock! Things were looking pretty grim for a while.” I chimed out, hoping to be overheard and understood as an old-world noodle expert. Unsurprisingly, the woman didn’t turn around and I crept off to check out.
Because I don’t have a machine, I thought it best to try a pasta that would be easy to cut by hand. Thus: tortellini. I read through several pasta dough recipes before trying one out. It was disheartening that many of the recipes I saw didn’t even call for semolina flour but I remained determined to make good of my purchase and subbed it in for the “all purpose.” The first dough was a mess! Too tough to even think about rolling out. I tried again using a flour blend of half semolina and half all purpose flour. Victory!
I filled them with a ricotta cheese mixture including grated Parmesan, nutmeg, smashed pine nuts, chopped parsley and lemon zest. Tasty! These step-by-step instructions for folding tortellini were extremely helpful in my venture. If you’ve never done this before, I’d recommend taking a look because it’s super easy!
In the end, even though they were OUTRAGEOUSLY DELICIOUS I found the filling/dough ratio to be a little off. I should have rolled the dough thinner to get more filling in each bite. I’ll definitely be an old world noodle master once my kitchen is graced with a pasta machine. That will be an amazing day!
Ricotta Tortellini with Spinach, Tomato and Sausage: Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 Links Spicy Chicken Sausage, casings removed, meat shredded
1 C Fresh Spinach Leaves, Rinsed
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1C Cherry Tomatoes
Freshly Grated Parmesan for serving
Tortellini Filling Ingredients:
20oz. Whole-milk Ricotta
2/3 C Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, minced
½ C Parmesan, finely grated
¼ C Pine Nuts, ground with a mortar and pestle or in heavy duty Ziploc bag with a mallet
1 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
Directions: Mash all ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended and smooth. Cover and chill while preparing dough.
Tortellini Dough Ingredients:
1 C All Purpose Flour
1 C Semolina Flour
3 Large Eggs
½ tsp. Fine Sea Salt
1 Large Egg White, beaten
Directions: Place first 4 ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix at low speed until dough pulls away from side of bowl, about 4 minutes. Place on work surface; knead until smooth, adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, 2-3 minutes (dough is fairly stiff). Divide in 4, flatten, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.
*Alternately, if you do not have a stand mixer the dough can be made if you create a well in your flour mixture and add the eggs to the middle. Carefully incorporate the eggs until you have a smooth dough. Divide in 2, flatten, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.
Working with one dough round at a time, run dough through widest setting of a pasta machine. Fold in half; run through machine. Repeat 7 times. Roll through machine without folding, decreasing width setting after each roll, until 1/16″ thick. Transfer to a floured surface.
*Alternately, if you do not have a pasta machine, work with one dough round at a time and roll thin with a rolling pin. Dough should be about the thickness of a dime.
Using a 3″ cookie cutter, cut dough into circles. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoonful of filling into center of each dough. Brush edges lightly with egg white; fold over and press to seal, forming a half-moon shape. Fold and press tips together, moistening with egg white to seal. Transfer to a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill!
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add tortellini. Simmer, stirring gently, until cooked through, 2-3 minutes after they begin to float.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over moderate heat, with a small splash of olive oil and minced garlic, brown the chicken sausage. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until softened (approx 6 minutes.) Add cooked tortellini and spinach and stir until spinach is just wilted. Serve immediately with fresh grated parmesan, salt & pepper.