Tortelloni di Porri

Tortelloni Stuffed with Leek

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • About 115 tortelloni, for

    6 to 8

    Persons

Appears in

Leek makes a novel stuffing for pasta. The way it is handled in this recipe, however, illustrates a fundamental Italian approach. The leek is cooked down slowly, its liquid evaporated, then it is browned. Following that, it is chopped and mixed with egg, Parmesan, and nutmeg. Thus a new stuffing acquires a recognizably Italian taste.

Stuffing for pasta can be done with a variety of vegetables, cheeses, meats, or fish. It must not contain large pieces of anything; nor may it resemble the undifferentiated consistency of baby food. It should invariably contain at least one of the following elements of flavor: Parmesan or nutmeg and, in the case of cooked stuffing, that special savoriness that comes from insaporire, the sautéing and browning of ingredients.

The sauce for these tortelloni is a particularly rich one of tomatoes and cream in which the tomatoes are cooked over a soffritto of onion, carrot, and celery. It could be an excellent sauce for other stuffed pasta such as tortelloni with Swiss chard (see The Classic Italian Cook Book, page 164) or for tubular pasta such as penne or rigatoni

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Ingredients

For the stuffing

  • 3 pounds leeks, about 8 cups when cut up
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan)
  • teaspoon grated nutmeg

For the pasta

  • Homemade pasta dough made with 3 large eggs and about 1⅔ cups unbleached flour, as described

For the vegetable sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • cups canned Italian peeled plum tomatoes, cut up in large pieces, with their juice
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan), plus additional for the table

Method

  1. Cut off the roots from the leek and discard any discolored or blemished outer leaf. Trim a little bit from the green tips. Cut the leek crosswise into rounds about ¼ inch thick. Wash thoroughly under cold running water.
  2. Put the leek in a skillet or sauté pan together with the 3 tablespoons of butter and the water, cover the pan, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook until the leek is reduced nearly to a pulp, then uncover the pan, turn up the heat, and brown the leek lightly, turning it 2 or 3 times. Should there be any liquid left in the pan, boil it away. Add salt.
  3. Chop the leek with a knife or in the food processor, giving it just one quick spin of the blade. Put it in a bowl, adding a few grindings of pepper, the egg, the ½ cup of grated cheese, and the nutmeg. Mix thoroughly with a fork until all the ingredients are combined evenly. Press down with a spatula to eliminate any air pockets.
  4. Knead the pasta dough as described. Cut off a piece, wrapping the rest in plastic wrap. Thin out the piece in the pasta machine, step by step, as described, stopping at the next to last setting. Lay the pasta strip flat on a work counter.
  5. Dot the pasta with ½-teaspoon lumps of leek stuffing, setting them down in a straight row along one side of the strip, and spacing them about inches apart and the same distance from the edge. Use one spoon to scoop up the stuffing from the bowl and another to push off the stuffing from the first spoon onto the pasta. Try not to get any stuffing on your fingers; otherwise you’ll have to wash them each time you need to handle more pasta.
  6. Fold the undotted side of the pasta over the stuffing. Use a ravioli cutter—a pastry wheel with a wavy edge—to trim the pasta edges where they meet or overlap, thus sealing them, and to cut the pasta into squares. Separate the squares and spread them on a clean, dry towel laid out flat on a counter.
  7. Cut off another piece of the wrapped pasta dough, rewrapping the remainder. Press the pasta trimmings from the first batch of tortelloni into the dough and reknead it briefly, passing it 3 or 4 times through the pasta machine rollers at their widest setting. Thin it out as described above and repeat the entire operation, making a second batch of tortelloni. Continue making more tortelloni until you have used up all the pasta and/or all the stuffing. Make sure that the finished tortelloni do not touch each other or they will stick to one another.
  8. Put the 3 tablespoons butter, the vegetable oil, and the chopped onion in a saucepan, turning on the heat to medium high. When the onion becomes colored a pale gold, add the carrot and celery. Cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, turning them from time to time.
  9. Add the tomatoes with their juice. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the fat separates from the other juices.
  10. Add the cream, salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Cook at high heat, stirring frequently, until the cream is reduced to a thick consistency.
  11. Drop the tortelloni into a pot of abundant boiling salted water together with the olive oil. When they are done but slightly firm at the edges, drain them and toss immediately with the sauce. Sprinkle with the grated cheese, toss again, and serve with additional grated cheese available on the side.

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