I have had my pasta making machine for many years, but it is only recently that I have I started to get to grips using it. In the last few years I have travelled to Italy and Spain, but the best pasta I have ever tasted has been in a bijou restaurant in Jesus Pobre in Spain. La Tasca is a very small courtyard restaurant and is really the most magical, and dare I say it romantic setting you could ever wish for. There is an array of barbecued fish and meats to choose from and the choice of pasta and sauces would rival any Italian restaurant.
One of my favourite pasta dishes at La Tasca is their Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with a butter sauce, although their parmesan cream sauce is pretty spectacular too. However I must get back to the point of the recipe before I begin day dreaming about warm evenings sat in that cosy courtyard. Oh how I would love to own a place just like La Tasca…
For the purpose of this recipe I have combined inspiration taken from La Tasca with a smattering of Carluccio’s flavours. I hope you find this dish as delicious as my family do and whether you serve it as a starter or a main course it is sure to please.
Tortellini with Spinach and Ricotta
Prep Time 45mins – 1hr (it depends on how adept at pasta making you are)
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a starter
400g of 00 flour
250g Italian ricotta
A sprinkle of nutmeg
salt and pepper
Sauce – starter for 4
100g Lurpack Butter (cooking range)
1. Put the flour on a work top (I cover my work top with cling film which helps when it comes to clearing up the leftover flour). Create a well in the middle, crack the eggs and place them inside the well. Using a fork, mix slowly and then work the mixture by hand for approximately 15 minutes.
2. Roll the dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth in a bowl. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
3. Whilst the dough is resting, mix the ricotta, spinach, nutmeg and seasoning in a food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Set up your pasta making machine, ideally with plenty of counter or table space to lay your pasta out. Flour the surface so that the pasta does not stick when you are cutting the shapes out at the end. Then tear off a 1/4 or a 1/3 of the pasta and feed the pasta through the machine on its widest setting (1). Fold once or twice and feed through again until you have a workable rectangle shape. Adjust the setting on the pasta machine to make the pasta thinner and longer (setting 3 or 4). When you have a longer rectangle you can join the two ends together to make a band using a drop of water.
5. Keep running the band of pasta through the machine, adjusting the setting until you have achieved the desired thickness to your pasta. Ideally you need to see through it, so I would suggest you finish the pasta on setting 8. Using a sharp knife, cut the pasta into two equal strips.
6. Place a small spoonful of filling, evenly along one of the pasta strips and then using your finger dab a little water around each dollop of filling.
7. Take the second sheet and starting at one end slowly lower the second sheet on top of the filling. Try to eliminate air bubbles as you go along. Once the sheet is placed on top use you hands or fingers to gently pat the pasta down, around each mound of filling.
8. At this point you can either use a glass to cut out the tortellini or you can cut out ravioli squares.
9. Repeat the process again with the remaining dough. (2 – 3 more times)
10. Once the pasta is ready, either cook straight away or store in an airtight container, after sprinkling the tortellini with semolina to ensure it doesn’t stick. You can also freeze the pasta but I suggest you freeze the tortellini on baking trays before putting it in a container to ensure it doesn’t stick together in the freezer (speaking from experience).
11. Once you are ready to cook the pasta, place it in boiling water for just 3-4mins.
12. Whilst the pasta is cooking, melt the butter and fry your sage leaves. Be careful not to burn the leaves.
13. Drain the pasta (reserving a cup of liquid) and place the pasta in the butter sauce, with a dash of pasta water if needed, to coat the pasta.
14. Serve immediately on warm plates and sprinkle with parmesan and black pepper.