Homemade spinach tortellini with butternut squash filling and sage
Today I’m sharing with you a recipe of mine that I believe to be a true showstopper! I am a big fan of green spinach pasta, largely because of its beautiful and bright colour, for which I shared my recipe with you over here and I had the idea to use this for a tortellini dish.
For this recipe, I wanted create a filling equally as bright but contrasting in colour to have a little ‘surprise element’ once you cut into these tortellini’s. I instantly thought of butternut squash, which has a gorgeous orange colour and is a favourite ingredient for filled pasta because of its great texture. Its sweet and nutty texture pair incredibly well with Italian hard cheeses like Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano. This recipe includes both and is indeed, very cheesy.
To top it off, I served this with a sage butter (because, delicious!), crispy sage and some good quality olive oil (because, best of both worlds!).
Making filled pasta like ravioli or tortellini is not hard. Sure, the shaping takes a bit of practise, but there is very little that can go wrong with this recipe if you follow the steps carefully. It does however, require a lot of time and patience, so make sure you have the time before you delve into this recipe. Take a whole afternoon on the weekend, get a partner, friend or family member involved to help and make it a fun activity with a super rewarding dinner at the end. It is truly worth the effort!
For the dough:
One batch of fresh green pasta dough, see here for my recipe.
For the filling:
500g cubed butternut squash
75g Pecorino Romano cheese
75g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the sauce:
10 fresh sage leaves
100g unsalted butter
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Step 1: Prepare filling
Peel, core and cube the butternut squash, you end up with approximately 500g in butternut squash. Cook in a pan of boiling water until very tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Drain well and cool.
In a food processor, pulse butternut squash into a paste. Add pecorino and parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Blitz until fully smooth.
Take some of the pasta dough and roll out in a pasta maker or simply by hand using a rolling pin, as thinly as possible. Many recipes suggest going to setting 1 on your pasta maker, but I tend to stop at setting 2 which on my machine is already very thin and makes it slightly easier to use and shape into tortellini’s. Make sure that any pasta dough you are not currently using is covered fully in cling film to avoid it drying out.
Step 2: Shaping tortellini – Step by step guide
1. Use a large cookie cutter (I use a 9cm one) or water glass to cut out circles of pasta dough. The larger you make these, the easier it will be to perfect the shape, but don’t go overboard or they will end up looking clunky. I find they are easiest to work with when you leave these to dry for a few minutes, but are still soft enough to shape.
2. Add a heaped teaspoon of butternut squash filling to centre. Don’t be temped to use too much, overfilling means you won’t be able to ‘seal’ the tortellini properly, risking they’ll open and leak while boiling. Dip your fingers in some water and lightly wet the pasta all around the filing.
3. Fold over pasta into a half moon and seal tightly and properly all around the pasta filling.
4. Take the half moon in your hands and draw the two corners together and press tightly to seal.
Place on a flour-dusted tea towel or baking sheet while carrying on making all tortellini’s until you have used up all dough and filling.
Step 3: Cooking and plating
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a generous amount of salt. Make sure the pan really is large enough, otherwise cook in batches, as you they need some space to avoid sticking together.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a pan over medium heat. As soon as the butter has melted, add sage leaves and cook until crisp. Keep an eye on the butter to ensure it doesn’t go brown.
Boil tortellini’s until they have risen to the surface and are fully cooked, approximately 3–4 minutes, but taste one before draining as cooking time will depend on the size, the amount of filling and thickness of your pasta.
Serve pasta with some of the sage butter, olive oil (optional) and top with a few crispy sage leaves.