Fennel & Parmesan Tortellini
Fennel is such an interesting plant, known for its unique flavour and aroma. Although I found my self in a bit of a predicament when I got sent some earlier this week. I am completely unsure what to do with it! Other than putting it in a fresh salad with segmented oranges - and as the months get cooler at this time of year who really feels like a salad?
I don’t know about you, but in the winter months I crave warming, buttery dishes like pastas. Inspired by Ottolenghi’s Sicilian Fennel Dumplings recipe, I developed this recipe for a stuffed pasta filled with fennel, parmesan, almonds and sultanas sautéed in a buttery sauce. Whether you want an impressive appetizer for a party or a delicious (and slightly different) weeknight meal option, give this recipe a try - you will absolutely love it!
For the pasta dough:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon cold water
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of type 00 white flour
Handful of fine semolina for dusting (or more flour)
For the pasta filling:
1 large fennel bulb, finely sliced
1/2 a cup of sultanas (or raisins or currants)
1/2 cup of almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or white wine
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano (or good quality parmesan), finely grated
zest of 1/2 an orange
1 egg, beaten
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the pasta sauce:
zest of 1/2 an orange
2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon of freshly cracked black pepper
100 grams of butter, chopped
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1 sprig of rosemary
125 grams of Parmigiano-Reggiano (or good quality parmesan), finely grated
To make the pasta filling:
In a large saucepan or shallow dutch oven add oil, fennel, nutmeg and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes, until fennel is translucent. Add the almonds, sultanas and nutmeg and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with red wine vinegar or white wine and also a couple of tablespoons of water. Cook until all moisture has evaporated and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
In a medium mixing bowl beat egg and parmesan together briefly. Next, add cooled fennel mixture and orange zest. Set aside until you're ready to fill you pasta.
To make the pasta dough:
In a mixing bowl add flour, salt, eggs and oil. Mix with your hands until the dough comes together. If your dough seems too crumbly, or its not holding together well, add the cold water and/or another teaspoon of oil.
Flour a chopping board and place dough on it. Knead the dough (for no more than 2 minutes) to form a ball. Flatten the dough so it is about 10 cms thick and then tightly wrap in cling wrap. Set this aside for at least an hour and a half.
Set up a pasta machine, and divide dough into 4 equal pieces. One at a time (wrap up rest of dough while you work on one piece) roll it out with a rolling pin until 4 cms thick. Next work the dough through the pasta machine on the various thickness settings, until you have a long piece of pasta that is paper thin.
Once the pasta is rolled out dust thoroughly with semolina or flour to prevent it from drying out. Using a large cookie cutter, cut circles about 7cms wide from the pasta sheet.
Prepare a glass or bowl of cool water beside your pasta workstation.
Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the middle of each pasta circle. Dip your finger in the glass of water and run it along the edge of the circle so that the pasta can stick to itself.
Fold the dough over itself to form a half moon shape, then pick up the two corners and press them together with your fingertips to seal the tortellini. Dust generously with flour or semolina while you work on shaping the others.
To make the sauce and assembly:
In a shallow dutch oven or large saucepan, add oil, butter, orange zest, rosemary, black pepper, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring frequently (so that the garlic doesn't brown too much).
In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook pasta stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Take one tortellini out and test for doneness.
After approximately 5 minutes, remove pasta from the water and using a slotted spoon add it to the large saucepan. Add 2 ladlefuls of the pasta water, and the parmesan, and gently stir (or toss) until the parmesan is melted and sauce is creamy, glossy and emulsified.
Serve tortellini seasoned with more cracked pepper and parmesan. Please enjoy!
Notes: If the pasta sauce looks too tight, add some more pasta water. If it is too thin you can add some more cheese or continue stirring for another minute (it will continue thickening as it cooks).