Since very early on in the history of pasta eating, pieces of dough in various shapes, stuffed with meat, cheese, fish, and vegetables, especially spinach have delighted diners as a practical and delicious way to eat. In modern times, many traditional, regional variations on the theme of stuffed pasta can be found. Ravioli is perhaps the best known, with raviolini and tortelloni also much loved. As is typical with Italian nomenclatures, the names for the same or similar pastas vary from region to region.
Tortelloni start out as flat squares of pasta dough. After being stuffed with a meat, seafood, or cheese mixture, they are folded into a pointed ring.
The tortelloni can be made in advance and stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Freeze on a cookie sheet, in one layer, then pack in a freezer bag.
To cook tortelloni, bring 4 quarts (4 liters) of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 2 tbsp kosher or sea salt, then add the pasta.
Cook until it is tender, 5 to 6 minutes (or, if cooking from frozen, allow 7 to 8 minutes). Drain well in a colander, then sauce and serve.
Stretch the pasta dough until it is very thin, but not as thin as it could possibly be, to make a strip 5 inch (12 cm) wide; trim as needed. Cut the strip in half crosswise. Set one half aside on the work surface and cover with a damp dish towel.
Spread out a second damp dish towel on the work surface in front of you and place the other half of the strip of dough on top. Carefully brush off any flour. Cut the strip in half lengthwise, then cut it crosswise, to create squares about 2½ inch (6 cm) on each side.
With lightly floured hands,transfer one of the squares from the towel to the work surface, turning it over so that the damp side faces up, and positioning the square so that one of the corners is pointing up, like a diamond. Spoon a mounded teaspoon of filling into the middle of the pasta square.
Bring the bottom corner up to meet the top corner, enclosing the filling in atriangular shape. Press the edges together. Gently lift up the left and right corners of the triangle, pinch them together, and twist slightly to seal. Keep on a cookie sheet sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal until ready to cook.
Step 1: Stretch the pasta dough as finely as you can, then cut it into an even number of long, equal-sized strips. Lay one strip on the work surface. With a round (not ruffle edged) ravioli cutter, rounded non cutting side down, lightly mark the dough at even intervals. Do not cut through. Pipe or spoon the filling into the center of each circle.
Step 2: Carefully place a second strip of pasta dough on top aligning the edges. Position a slightly smaller ravioli cutter, again rounded non cutting side down, so that a mound of filling is centered in it. Press down, fusing the layers of dough, then very gently shift the raviolini aside. Repeat the process for all the mounds of filling. Lift off the scraps of dough and discard. Keep the raviolini on a cookie sheet sprinkled liberally with semolina or cornmeal until ready to cook.
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