orting it. Convenience, portability and efficiency have determined the evolution of the solutions.
Some great solutions for transporting involve edible pockets: Pasties, dumplings, empanadas, pies, vareniki, calzone…
The vessel always responds (at least historically) to the needs of the eater:
- How far ahead in the day will the food be eaten
- Travel conditions
- Can it be eaten cold
- Will it be the only meal
- Will it require cutlery… and here is when the refinement of each dish comes into play.
We can easily picture farmers or miners happily munching a pasty – pastry and all– at this point the beauty of the food is irrelevant as long as the content is safely preserved and the pastry merely complements the meal providing a good source of carbs and fat.
However the evolution and even sophistication of edible parcels has given us as a result delicate dishes such as ravioli, tortellini, cannelloni, etc. the pocket in this case is always a simple thin sheet of wheat and egg dough stuffed and then cooked by either boiling, baking and/or frying.
Tortellini or belly buttons seem to have been the result of desire and lust which only adds up to the simple beauty and decadence of the dish.
Two belly buttons seem to compete for being the inspiration of these dish: one version claims that they were inspired by Venus’ belly button and the other version says it was none other than Lucrezia Borgia, who inadvertently inspired a cook when he saw her naked body.
Whichever version turs to be correct all the tortellini that we get to eat in our lives will indeed go live in our tummies…close to our belly buttons.
Now, let’s get cracking with the recipe, I used a pasta machine but you can also use a simple rolling pin or a wine bottle.
To make about 15 big ravioli you will need:
For the pasta
- 2 cups of strong white flour
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 pinches of salt
For the filling
- ½ cup of boiled chicken
- 4 tbsp grated parmesan
- ½ medium onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- 1 knob of butter
- Salt and pepper
If you’re making a vegetarian version you can use instead spinach or mushrooms.
In a food processor grind and mix all the ingredients for the filling. In a hot pan add the butter and sauté the filling until almost cook for about 4 minutes and let aside to cool.
For the pasta.
Forma a fountain with the flour in your working surface, crack the eggs inside and using a fork start whisking and gradually incorporating the flour, when the batter is thick enough continue by hand for about 3-4 minutes. The dough will be increasingly hard but make sure the eggs are perfectly incorporated. Cover in cling film or pop in a bag and let the gluten relax and cook in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.
In a lightly dusted surface start rolling the dough, fold it and roll out again, repeat this process several times this will help it become elastic. Roll out until very thin, not paper thin but sort of credit card thin.
You can either use a round cutter or lay the dough and cut it in squares.
Place 1 full teaspoon or half a tablespoon of filling at the centre of each square or circle. Then fold in half (either triangular if it’s a square) or half-moon.
Place the parcel against your thumb and take the corners and fold them around your thumb and press them to seal then fold the little triangle inside.
Place each tortellini on a lightly dusted surface.
Prepare 1 litre of boiling water, I added a cube of vegetable stock, you can use the water in which you boiled the chicken. Add salt.
Boil the tortellini for about 10 minutes, depending on the size they will require less or more time, try them, to make sure they’re cooked.
The pasta should go from dark and thick to soft and transparent.
You can serve them in the same broth, simply add some vegetables, or you can also make a simple butter or béchamel sauce. Garnish with some parmesan cheese.
I know making your own pasta might seem very daunting but I assure you is quite simple. Remember practice makes perfect and the worst thing that can happen is that they aren’t that pretty but they will taste great!