Meat eaters look away. Actually, no, don’t. This tortellini dish tastes as meaty as a rump steak – except it’s vegetarian. The tortellini are packed with super-umami mushrooms: gently cooked Portobellos, to release their moisture and intensify the flavour; and incredibly earthy porcini mushrooms. Add to these, creamy ricotta cheese and a handful of strong Parmesan and you have one of the tastiest pasta dishes you’ll ever experience. I’ve modified this from Theo Randall’s ‘Pasta’ book. He makes ravioli, but I fancied trying tortellini. As you can see, they’re quite rough and ready, but all the more, er, characterful for that!
This is my tried and tested recipe for pasta dough
200g ’00’ Tipo flour, sieved
2 medium eggs
2 medium egg yolks
For the filling
3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
250g portobello mushrooms, sliced 1cm thick
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
50g dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 100m hot water for 10 mins (or use ready-soaked shop-bought. I used the Merchant Gourmet brand)
75g Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
75g unsalted butter
10 sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. To make the pasta dough, sieve the flour into a bowl. Beat the eggs and yolks together. Make a well in the flour and pour in the eggs. Use a knife to mix the flour and eggs together. Once it becomes clumpy, use your fingers to make a ball. Flour a work, surface and knead the dough for 10 mins, until soft and pliable. If it’s too sticky, add more flour.
2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and gently cook until softened, approx. 2 mins. Add the portobello mushrooms and thyme and cook for about 15 mins until all the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.
3. Add the porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid and continue to cook until dry. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
4. Mix the ricotta and Parmesan together in a bowl. Chop the mushrooms and add to the bowl. Mix well and season to taste.
5. To make the tortellini, roll out the dough and feed through a pasta machine (mine is an Imperia). Gradually reduce the thickness settings until you are on the lowest setting. You need to feed the dough through at least 10 times. When the sheets become too big to handle, cut them in half and continue to feed through the machine. At the end of this process you should have 4-6 thin, but strong, pasta sheets. Brush half of them with water,
7. Use an 8cm ramekin as a guide to cut the pasta into circles with a knife or pasta cutter. Once you have a circle, fold over to create a half circle. Press down to release all the air from inside, then fold the two ends of the circle back on themselves to create a nice parcel.
8. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and carefully lower the tortellini into the water. Cook on a rolling boil for 4-5 mins.
9. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the sage leaves. Cook for 1-2 mins until the sage crisps.
10. Serve the tortellini on a large plate, smothered with the sage butter.