Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

tortelli 4

I may be spoiled for pasta now.

On the first morning of our first day in Italy, we walked to the Academia Barilla, an institute in Parma dedicated to the preservation of Italian food culture. (And to that end, the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library houses a collection of over 11,000 cookbooks dating back to the 16th century – it’s open to the public and can be accessed online. More on that later, because WOW.)

making pasta

We were set up with little piles of flour and dark-yolked eggs, and mixed up dough the way you see them do it on TV – not in a bowl, but by making a little volcano out of the flour and cracking the eggs in, then stirring/corralling the eggs as they try to escape from ditches in the flour until it all comes together into a smooth, yellow dough that’s oh-so satisfying to run through a pasta machine into smooth, thin sheets, then cut into piles of ribbons or fill with chard and ricotta.

A twentysomething journalist from Brazil was in our group, and reminisced about his Italian Grandmother’s kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, when they would all gather around the table and assemble whatever shape of pasta was on the menu for Sunday lunch, which lasted until dinnertime.

Tortelli Collage

They talked and caught up around the table, as we got to know each other around ours. It’s fascinating to me that it’s not unusual there to begin dinner by cracking eggs into a pile of flour, much like we might truss a chicken or mix up a meatloaf; fresh pasta is quick, inexpensive and simple, not a special weekend project like it most often is here. In creative English, a local chef told us that tortelli – called ravioli everywhere but in Parma – was a great way to use up scraps of leftovers and veggies that were starting to wilt and might otherwise wind up in the compost bin.

Tortelli 1

It was the first of many plates of tortelli – interestingly, no matter where we went, most of them were stuffed with ricotta and chard, tossed in butter and doused in grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. (Natch.)

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Tortelli Collage

I love how the stuffed, uncooked tortelli look like little planets.

And what better side for fresh pasta than more pasta? (Apologies for the artificial light here.)

Tortelli 3

I also kind of love that this recipe is delivered with the presumption that the reader has a basic knowledge of cooking. I left it as-is, except for the pasta dough instructions, which were originally merely “mix flour with the egg”. If you don’t have a ravioli pan, which are inexpensive at most Italian markets, you can fill them flat on the counter, then cut in between. Just make sure you squeeze out any air pockets as you seal them, lest they wind up their own wee floatation devices in the pot.





Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

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6 comments on “Swiss Chard & Ricotta Tortelli

  1. Nurse Jennifer
    June 25, 2014 at 6:40 am

    So jealous! Love fresh pasta. Could you share any information on the cooking school you were at?

  2. Jules @ WolfItDown
    June 25, 2014 at 8:06 am

    This looks great! I wish there were little cooking classes like this for all around in the cities 🙂 I have been wanting to make home made pasta for a long time, but have still not gotten around to it. When I was little, and visiting my auntie, uncle and cousins one time, they were making fresh tagliatelle, and served it with a lovely onion sauce, it was the best pasta I’d ever tried!
    This looks heavenly! Might just be the kick I need to get me started 🙂 x

  3. www.mudlusciouspress.com
    June 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    oh yummy! this was soo soo easy method of making ricotta tortelli i can’t believe it.. you are too amazing Julie 🙂

  4. Theresa
    June 28, 2014 at 8:23 am

    All my recipes for fresh pasta ask for semolina not regular flour. What’s the difference?

    • Julie
      July 2, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Sorry, missed your question Theresa! It’s a ground durum wheat flour, a harder flour that’s higher in protein/gluten and commonly used for pasta making – I was surprised that they called for all-purpose flour, but it’s nice to know it works since most people already have it in their kitchens!

  5. Dana
    July 21, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks for the recipe Julie! I tried making this and I found my pasta to be a bit rubbery. I just used regular all-purpose flour and I did a couple of batches. The first batch I just kneaded enough to bring the dough together and let rest for 30 minutes. The second batch I kneaded quite a bit (because the first batch was rubbery and stiff after cooking). I also tried cooking some longer to see if it just needed more cooking. Nothing seemed to work any better. Any advice??

    Love your blog.

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