Tortellini from Scratch…You Won’t Be Sorry…

Let me begin by saying I am NOT a pasta expert. AT ALL. In fact, other than a couple of batches of gnocchi, I have never made homemade pasta…meaning noodles, tortellini, ravioli, fusilli – you get my drift. Sure, I have opened numerous boxes of the store bought variety, but had not really given any thought to where or how it might be made. Then yesterday, I stumbled into the Barefoot Kitchen Witches blog and saw her beautiful homemade ravioli. I decided right then that I too could make ravioli. And that was what I was going to do today for dinner.

Except I changed my mind.
When I went back to grab her recipe, I saw her blog on tortellini. Now that’s a pasta I never ever thought about…just the shape is complicated in and of itself, right? Do you ever think about that, or do you just think, geez, it’s kind of expensive? Well, I started making it. If you want a step by step on how to do it the old-fashioned way – head on over to her blog. Here is my slightly simpler take and the recipe I used, which is very similar to hers….

Herb Spiced Tortellini with Mozzerella & Parmesan Filling

3 cups All Purpose Flour
4 Large Eggs
Dash of Salt
2 to 3 Tablespoons Combined of the following Spices:
Powdered Garlic, Oregano, Basil, Powdered Parmesan, Ground Red Pepper, Ground Sundried Tomatoes, Onion Powder

(you may use any herbs you see fit – I used the above blend because of the great flavor and the way it added a lot of color to the pasta.)

Using your stand mixer and dough hook, combine all ingredients on low speed until very well combined and the dough is a big ball. This is a tough dough, so watch the mixer – it will fight you a bit. Remove the dough and begin to knead the dough by hand until smooth and pushes back. I kneaded by hand at least 15 minutes, maybe more. Form into a ball and tighly wrap in plastic while you prepare the filling.

Around 1 cup Grated Fresh Mozzerella (or grated pre-packaged will work, too)
1/3 cup Fresh Ground Parmesan
Pinch Garlic Powder

Have the filling ready when you are starting to roll out the dough. The dough needs to rest for around a half hour or more before you roll it. Cut the dough into thirds, and re-wrap the 2/3 you aren’t rolling so that it doesn’t dry out.
Roll out the dough with a pin or, if you have it, a pasta maker. I roll mine by hand, it isn’t terribly difficult, but you will need to use some muscle. Roll as thin as possible, so that when you hold it up to the light, you can almost see through it. It helps to routinely flip the dough over and reroll it, over and over. At least this method worked for me.
Once it is rolled out, using a large round cookie cutter (2 inches or so in diameter is what I used), cut out as many circles as you can. This dough will dry out pretty quick, so don’t wander off. The dough that is left over after cutting the circles can be re-rolled to make more circles if you want, or, save all of the scraps until the end and roll them all out together. I saved mine and made fettucini sized pasta.

Once cut out, put a small (very small, people) amount of the cheese filling on the round, apply a small amount of water to half of the circle with your fingers, then fold in half, making sure to seal tightly. Finally, pull the sides together to form the classic tortellini shape and pinch the ends together so that they stay put. Easy, right?

Place the filled tortellini on a dishtowel as you go, so that they won’t stick to your work surface. Once you have finished the first third, move on to the remaining dough and repeat, repeat, repeat.

Now you can freeze your little gems or cook them in your favorite Italian recipe…we cooked ours on the stovetop, then added some tomato sauce to a baking dish, topped it with the cooked tortellini, then topped that with more sauce and slices of fresh mozzarella and baked it for about 15 minutes. Great, easy meal – and so much better than storebought! Buon Appetito!
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