Tortelloni Filled with Swiss Chard

Tortelloni di Biete

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It is with these tortelloni that my life-long love of pasta began, as my mother describes in her foreword to this book. The sauce I prefer for them is the Simple Butter and Tomato Sauce but they are also wonderful with just butter and parmesan cheese which is the preparation commonly used in Emilia-Romagna.

Total Time from Start to Finish: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Swiss chard or fresh spinach or 20 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, finely diced
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup plus cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • tsp. nutmeg
  • Pasta dough, made with 2 eggs and 1 ½ cups flour

Method

  1. Remove the stalks from the Swiss chard or the stems from the spinach. Wash the leaves in several changes of cold water and place them in a pot with just the water that clings to them and a sprinkling of salt. Put the pot over medium high heat, cover and cook until the leaves are quite tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, squeeze as much water out of the leaves as possible and chop very finely. (If using frozen spinach follow the same procedure except that they should be cooked in enough salted boiling water to cover them for about 3 minutes).
  2. Put the butter and onion in a 10-inch skillet and place over medium heat. Sauté until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes. Add the prosciutto and Sauté for about another minute. Add the Swiss chard or spinach and Sauté, stirring often, for another 3 minutes. Do not worry if it absorbs all the butter. Transfer the contents of the pan to a mixing bowl and let it cool.
  3. When the Sautéed Swiss chard or spinach has cooled, add the ricotta, egg yolk, the ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the nutmeg. Mix well until the mixture is well amalgamated then taste for salt.
  4. Roll out the pasta dough until it is very thin. If using the pasta machine roll out just one strip at a time. If you’ve rolled out the pasta by hand, cut a strip approximately 3-inch wide and cover the rest with plastic. Place dollops of about 1 tablespoon of the filling along the bottom half of the strip spaced about 1-inch apart. Fold the top half of the pasta strip over the filling and using a pastry cutting wheel cut along the bottom edge, the sides, and in between each dollop of stuffing forming square tortelloni. The edges should be sealed by the cutting action of the pastry wheel, however make sure they are and pinch shut any loose edges with your fingers. Place the tortelloni on a dry cloth, spaced enough apart so they won’t stick to each other, and continue the process until all the pasta and/or the filling is used up.
  5. Gently heat the tomato sauce or set aside 6 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces and ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  6. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, cover, and place over high heat. When the water boils, add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, and carefully slide the tortelloni using the towel. Cook until the edges of the tortelloni are cooked al dente. Drain well and transfer to a serving platter. Pour the sauce over them and the cup grated Parmigiano, or add the butter and ½ cup Parmigiano. Gently toss until they are evenly coated with sauce. Serve at once.

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