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What's for Dinner? Italian Sausage Tortellini

By Molly Durham in Food on Nov 29, 2011 5:00PM

When it comes to eating, one of the most satisfying things is when something tastes truly fresh. One of the easiest foods to identify as fresh rather than made, dried, packaged, shipped, shelved and sitting for weeks? Pasta dough.

Take the time to create this traditional Italian dish and you won't be sorry. Fresh dough and a filling mixed with your own hands are a magical combination. Never thought to put nutmeg with your sausage? Well you've been missing out! It's the secret ingredient that makes this pasta awesome.

Get your fingers ready and limber, because twisting tortellini is a delicate process. See how small you can make them.


Pasta dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
6 eggs

Italian sausage or a combination of ground chuck and lean ground pork
Parmesan reggiano, salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

To make filling, mix all ingredients together with your hands in a large mixing bowl.

For the dough, combine flour and eggs in a food processor until it forms a ball. (If you don't have a processor, start with 3 cups flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add eggs into the center. Stir with a fork, mixing the flour into the eggs a little at a time, until stiff. Knead with extra flour until stiff enough for tortellini.)

Remove and add a bit more flour. Refrigerate for an hour before forming into long strips about an inch and a half wide with pasta maker, or rolling out by hand. If using a pasta machine, put strips the length of a pencil and twice the width of one through it until the dough is as thin as a dime and about an inch and a half wide.

If rolling by hand, take long pencil-thin rods and using rolling pin to make it at least dime thin. Cut the edges so the strip is an inch and a half wide. This can be repeated until dough is gone, or you can roll out a large thin block and cut multiple strips at once, whichever you prefer.

Cut into squares and put a small ball of meat filling on each. Wrap dough around filling to form a triangle, pressing the edges together to seal. Twist around the tip of your finger, folding down the top tip of the triangle.

Either cook immediately, or freeze until ready to eat (this can be for months).

To cook:
Bring water to boil, add tortellini and cook for about 5 minutes. Check on them when they start to float, tasting to see if they are tender. Serve in chicken broth with extra parmesan cheese, which is a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dish. But these are delicious any day.