Mantuan pumpkin Tortelli is one of the most representative and sumptuous dishes of Italian cuisine, yet these rich Tortelli are born from the need to not eat meat on Friday. But above all to recycle the leftovers of the kitchen and it is for this reason that we have such a risky combination, which melts sweet and savory flavors: in this case, the mustard, amaretti, and pumpkin combined with Parmesan cheese.
And it is precisely this sweet thread, the perfect balance between sweetness and saltiness that makes these Tortelli unique, made with the four most typical ingredients of the Mantuan territory.
Similar to Ferrara’s cappellacci, another area where pumpkins are produced, but more elaborate, enriched by a spicy touch that makes them even more special.
Like gnocchi, the origin dates back to the Longobard Middle Ages period. In the Padana area, the word Tortello itself tells us everything: it derives from torta (cake), a word used to describe not only sweet preparations but also the first attempts at stuffed pasta.
Ingredients and doses for making the original Mantuan pumpkin tortelli
For the stuffing
- 1.2 kg of Mantuan squash
- 150 grams of macaroons
- 150 of Mantua mustard with its syrup
- 150 grams of Parmigiano Reggiano
- the peel of half a lemon
- a handful of breadcrumbs (the minimum necessary to give consistency to the dough)
- 15 grams of nutmeg
- salt and pepper
For making pasta
- 400 grams of 00 flour
- 4 eggs and 1 yolk
- 25 grams of extra virgin olive oil
- 25 grams of butter
- 5 leaves of sage
How to make Mantua Pumpkin Tortelli
Let’s start with the pumpkin filling, which should be prepared at least the day before.
Wash the pumpkin, remove seeds, peel and cut it into not too large wedges, which you will put on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake in the oven at 160 degrees until it is well cooked and dry.
It depends on how big the pieces are, but in 40 minutes they should be ready. Test with a fork, if you can mash the pulp it’s time to remove it from the oven.
Be careful to cook the pumpkin well, otherwise, the dough would be very moist and you would have to add more breadcrumbs.
Wait until the pumpkin cools down to be able to work and in the meantime crush and chop the mustard and the amaretti cookies with a knife. Never use a mixer: it pulverizes and heats the ingredients too much. Real Mantuan chefs do it with their bare hands, but you can use a knife.
Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher and place it in a bowl with the crumbled amaretti, mustard, Parmigiano Reggiano, the grated rind of a lemon and mix well.
Season with a sprinkling of nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Check the consistency of the dough by passing it between your fingers, if it is too wet, add a handful of grated bread.
How to make the perfect sfoglia
Put the flour on the pastry board and form a fountain, break the eggs in the center, add the oil and start kneading with a fork. When the dough has thickened a little, start kneading with your hands, until it forms an elastic ball. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Now you have two options: you can make classic Tortelli or cappellacci, which are often confused with tortelli. It changes the shape, but not the substance since it is the filling that is the “master”.
If you want to make cappellacci, roll out the 3 mm thin pasta and with a cup, or pasta bowl, make lots of pasta discs, place a knob of stuffing in the center, close them in half and then wrap the two ends around to your index, taking care to remove all the air inside.
For making tortelli: same way but make squares of 5 cm of side, close them in half and fold them giving the shape of the tortello.
Now let’s take care of the sauce. Melt 25 grams of butter until it takes on a nice nutty color and flavor it with 4 sage leaves. Cook the pumpkin tortelli for 5-6 minutes in abundant salted water, drain, season with the melted butter and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.