Italian Recipe for Tortelli alla Mantovana, or Pumpkin Ravioli
Pumpkin "tortelli," a type of raviolo, is one of the most traditional of dishes of the Italian city of Mantua (Mantova in Italian), and one of the most well-known throughout all of Italy, in part because of its association with the Christmas season: "tortelli alla mantovana" have long been part of Christmas Eve dinner. It is also an intriguing dish from a flavor standpoint: a mix of the sweetness of the gourd with the spiciness of the Mantovan "mostarda," a type of mustardy fruit preserve that has little resemblance to anything we would call mustard. The result? A delicious mix of sweet and tangy, traditionally topped with a simple butter and cheese sauce.
For the filling:
600 gr (1 1/3 lb) pumpkin puree (preferably fresh, not canned)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
100 gr grated grana padano cheese (3.5 oz), or parmesan
100 gr amaretti cookies (3.5 oz)
100 gr mostarda mantovana (3.5 oz)*
For the pasta:
400 gr (14 oz) flour
large pinch of salt
To dress the pasta:
200 gr (7 oz) butter
grana padano to taste
fresh sage leaves (optional)
Prepare the pumpkin. Bake in an oven until soft, open and remove the seeds and skin, and pass through a food mill to puree it.
Finely chop the "mostarda di mantova" and add it to the puree.
Pulverize the amaretti cookies in a food processor (or by hand), add with the grana padano to the filling with the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Mix thoroughly and let rest for at least 30 minutes, but preferably for several hours (or overnight).
Make the dough by putting the flour on a table or board. Make a well, and add the egg. Beat the egg in the well with a pinch of salt, and slowly start incorporating the flour. When fully incorporated, knead by hand to the desired consistency (smooth and supple).
Roll a long rectangular sheet, about 10 cm wide, and place small spoonfuls (about 2 cm in diameter) of the filling at even intervals along one side of the rectangle.
Lightly wet the pasta around each bit of filling with a pastry brush, then fold the pasta over, sealing between the filling and on the edges, and cut with a knife or pasta cutter into even squares. Let rest on a lightly floured surface until ready to cook.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a large skillet, add a bit of the pasta water and a few fresh sage leaves (optional) to make a classic "Alfredo" sauce, and add the ravioli. Sprinkle with grana padano and serve!
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By Peg Kern