Tortelli hail from Tuscany and neighboring towns in Emilia Romagna, and are rustic, simple home-cooking at its finest.
Larger than ravioli, they are traditionally stuffed with garlicy potatoes, herbs, and sometimes a hint of tomato, and topped with “sugo di carne” (meat sauce). In my plant-based version, however, I looked to young shiitake mushrooms to enhance my “sugo sensa carne” and added porcini to the stuffing. All I can say is, ‘buoni!!’
To help manage your time, the sugo, filling, and dough can all be made in advance.
Prep time 90 minutes Cook time 5 minutes for the tortelli, a low and slow 3-hour simmer for the sugo Makes about 45 three-inch tortelli
A manual or electric pasta rolling machine
A pizza wheel
A food processor
A digital scale
Stainless bench scraper
A potato ricer
An extra-large cutting board or working surface on which to lay out the long strips of dough for stuffing
A large cutting board or stone surface to lay out the rolled dough sheets
A large skimmer
Sugo sensa Carne
1 large red onion, medium dice
4 ounces baby shiitake mushrooms (caps and stems), chopped finely
2 stalks celery, small dice
2 medium carrots, small dice
Water, veggie broth or dry vermouth as needed 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
Handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 medium or small leek, medium dice
A 28-ounce can or jar of whole Marzano tomatoes (pulp and sauce)
A few grinds of black pepper
Red (aka) miso paste* to taste, in lieu of salt
220 grams atta (whole durum wheat flour, available online or in Indian groceries)
50 grams besan (chana dal flour, available online or in Indian groceries)
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
220 grams silken tofu, well drained
4 medium-large russet potatoes, boiled and riced
Small handful Italian parsley leaves, finely minced ½ head roasted garlic, cloves peeled, finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or nepitella or thyme leaves, finely minced
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried porcini powder from sliced dehydrated porcini mushrooms
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Grinds of black pepper
2 teaspoons of shiro (white) miso powder* (or paste), or to taste
*Miso is a good salt alternative that helps to lower heart rate and does not raise blood pressure (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313421/#:~:text=Miso%2C%20which%20is%20made%20from,%2C%20including%20salt%2Dsensitive%20hypertension).
Make the Sugo
Pulse the baby shiitakes in a food processor to finely chop. In a saucepan dry sauté the onions, carrots, celery, and shiitakes over a medium low flame until they release their liquids and soften.
If the mix dries, add a splash of water or veggie broth, or dry vermouth.
Add the garlic, leek, and sage and cook for a minute or two. Then add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon.
Cover, continue to cook on a low simmer for 3 hours (more if you like). The flavor will intensify and only improve. The color will deepen to a dark red. Turn off flame and season with pepper, and aka (red) miso as an alternative to salt if you like.
Make the Pasta Dough
Combine the flours and turmeric in a food processor. Pulse to blend. Drain the silken tofu well and add. Run for 1-2 minutes or until a ball of dough gathers in the food processor bowl.
Knead the dough on a board for 10 minutes, using a bench scraper to scrape up any dough that adheres to the board as you go. If the dough is sticky, add a teaspoon or so of flour but go slowly. If it is too stiff to easily knead, add 1-2 teaspoons of water. When you are done kneading, the dough should be very smooth and as soft as an earlobe. Shape into a ball, cover well with plastic wrap and rest the dough for at least 30 minutes. If you make a few hours in advance, double wrap in plastic wrap and then a zip-lock bag.