Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage and Pumpkin Seeds
For Christmas dinner, my family and I are planning an Italian feast complete with apertivo, pear and pecorino toretlloni, pumpkin risotto, bistecca, white beans, roasted veggies, budino, and tiramisu! Words cannot express how excited I am to see my family… and to serve them this dinner!
As much as I would love to pretend that I have a loud Italian grandmother to teach my sisters and I how to make pasta from scratch, I don’t… I’m also not really enthused about the idea of buying a pasta roller that I’ll most likely use once. Sooo we’re ordering fresh sheets of pasta from one of our favorite Italian restaurants in the area, La Villa, to make our toretlloni.
The last thing I wanted to worry about on Christmas day was ruining one of my favorite dishes and not having a back-up plan so I thought it would be in my best interest to do a “test run” of Pumpkin Tortelloni while I was in Florence.
I made the pumpkin filling the day before to save some time and used a great picture tutorial from the Williams Sonoma blog to assemble the toretlloni. I know… I’m in Italy and I’m using Williams Sonoma as a reference, but it is an excellent guide for beginners! The first time I tried to assemble the toretlloni, I made the mistake of buying cheap store-bought pasta sheets and as soon as I started making little triangles the pasta started breaking. I got annoyed, had a little hissy fit, and I was about to call it a loss and throw everything away… But then I remembered, “I have to do this for Christmas! I must persevere.”
The following day I went to the fresh pasta vendor at the Mercato Centrale and explained (in Italian, might I add!) that I wanted to make tortelli at home and walked away with some fresh, quality pasta sheets that don’t break when you fold them! The Williams Sonoma blog was super helpful, but of course, there were still a few mishaps… How are you supposed to learn otherwise?!
On my first sheet of pasta, I didn’t use a ruler so all of my squares looked more like rectangles and didn’t create even triangles, which was fine because I jut cut off the excess dough… But still, not perfect. The second sheet of pasta I used a ruler and made 2”x2” squares, which were a bit too small for my liking and I got overzealous with the pumpkin filling and I couldn’t seal my edges completely. But alas, on the third sheet of pasta I made 3”x3” squares, I only put two teaspoons of filling in the center, and I was able to seal my edges and fold over my corners. Success! Tortelloni for the win!
The pumpkin filling is a great balance of sweetness and acidity from the vinegar and honey and then it’s coated in a simple brown butter sauce and topped with sage and toasted pumpkin seeds for a little extra crunch and nuttiness. Seasonal, cozy, and delicious.
Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage and Pumpkin Seeds from Williams Sonoma:
20 ounces/625 grams of fresh pasta sheets (1/16-inch/2 millimeters)
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) (3 ounces/90 grams) unsalted butter
2 ¼ pound (1 kg) Cinderella or other heirloom pumpkin or butternut squash, halved, seeded and stringy fibers removed (seeds reserved)
Olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 ½ cups (6 ounces/185 grams) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Semolina flour for dusting
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
5 tablespoons (2 ½ ounces/75 grams) unsalted butter
6 fresh sage leaves, finely slivered
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for finishing
- Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted and the foam has subsided, cook, stirring constantly, until the butter becomes a light tan color. Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To make the filling, cut the pumpkin in half, drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt. Place the pumpkin, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin until fully tender when pierced with a knife, 45 to 60 minutes. The pumpkin should be soft to the touch but not mushy or deflated. Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and discard the rind. Add the warm pumpkin to a blender along with the brown butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and vinegar. Puree until smooth and season to taste with salt. The puree should have a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. If the pumpkin lacks sweetness and depth of flavor, add the honey to balance the flavor. Spoon the puree into a bowl and fold in the cheese. You should have about 3 ½ cups (28 fl. oz./875 ml) filling. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to cool.
- Dust 2 baking sheets with semolina flour and set aside.
- To make the tortelloni, using a straight wheel cutter or sharp knife and a ruler, cut the dough into 2 ¾-inch (7-cm) squares. Using a piping bag or spoon, place 2 teaspoon of filling into the middle of each square. Fold the pasta in half so the opposite corners meet, forming a triangle. Use a spritz of water from a spray bottle to help seal it if necessary. Gently press out the air around the filling by running your fingers from the tip of the triangle downward. With your thumbs along the base of the triangle and your index fingers halfway down each side of the triangle, gently pinch your index fingers and thumbs together and rotate your left index finger to fit under the base of the triangle. Wrap the corners around your left index and middle fingers and pinch them together to seal. You should have a small gap between the filling and the pinched dough, like a ring.
- Working quickly, place the tortelloni on the prepared baking sheets, spaced apart, until ready to cook. Don’t let the tortelloni touch each other or they may stick together. Repeat until you run out of dough or filling. You should have 30 to 40 pieces.
- Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 11 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Drop the pasta into the boiling water. Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch (30-cm) sauté pan over high heat. Add ¼ cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) of the seasoned pasta water and the butter and bring to a simmer. Once the pasta is cooked 80 percent through, until almost al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes, add it to the pan along with the sage and swirl until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Reserve the pasta water. If needed, add a few more tablespoons of pasta water to keep a saucy consistency and continue cooking until the pasta is tender, about 90 seconds. Season with salt.
- To serve, divide the pasta and sauce between 4 plates. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve immediately. Serves 4.