At Flour + Water restaurant in San Francisco, Chef Thomas McNaughton makes these tender-firm, sweet, and buttery tortelloni, flavored with sage, sprinkled with crisp toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s an elegant first course for a fall or winter dinner party with just the right rustic edge, or serve it as the main course of a special vegetarian supper around the holidays. The tortelloni look complicated to shape, but once you get the hang of it you can make them pretty fast. Bonus: Check out our behind-the-scenes visit to McNaughton’s test kitchen.
What to buy: Cinderella is an heirloom French pumpkin variety with rich-tasting flesh. Butternut squash makes a fine substitute, though the color won’t be as intensely orange. Check out all the best of pumpkins on Chowhound.
Game plan: Make the pumpkin filling up to 2 days ahead. The Ravioli Pasta Dough is best rolled out just before you form the tortelloni, though the dough can rest as long as 6 hours before the final rolling.
- Yield: 4 servings (30 to 40 tortelloni)
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 2 hrs 15 mins
- Active: 1 hr 10 mins
For the filling:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
- 2 1/4 pounds Cinderella pumpkin or butternut squash, halved and seeded, stringy fibers removed
- Pure olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- 2 1/2 cups (185 grams) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
To assemble the tortelloni:
- Semolina flour
- 1 recipe Ravioli Pasta Dough
To make the sauce and finish:
- 3 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon pure olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick plus 1 tablespoon)
- 6 fresh sage leaves, cut in chiffonade
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Heat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make brown butter by heating a sauté pan over medium heat and adding the butter. Once it’s melted and the foam has subsided, cook, stirring constantly, until it turns a light tan color and has a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To make the filling, drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil, season with the measured salt, and place cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until fully tender when pierced with a knife, 45 to 60 minutes. It should be soft to the touch but not mushy or collapsed. When it’s cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the rind. Add to the jar of a blender with the brown butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vinegar. Purée until smooth and season with salt to taste. There should be a nice balance of sweetness and acidity; add 1 tablespoon of honey if necessary to augment the pumpkin’s natural sugars. Spoon the purée into a bowl and fold in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. You should have about 3 1/2 cups filling. Cool in the refrigerator, covered.
- To assemble the tortelloni, begin by dusting 2 baking sheets with semolina flour and set aside.
- Make the pasta according to the directions. Remove a 2-foot section of the dough sheet and cover the rest with plastic wrap. Using a straight wheel cutter or sharp knife and a ruler, cut the dough into 2-3/4-inch squares. With a piping bag or spoon, place 2 teaspoons of filling into the middle of each square. Fold the pasta in half so the opposite corners meet, forming a triangle. (Use a spritz of water from a spray bottle to help seal if necessary.) Gently press out the air around the filling by running your fingers from the tip of the triangle downward. With your thumbs along the base of the triangle and your index fingers halfway down each side of the triangle, gently pinch your index fingers and thumbs together and rotate your left index finger to fit under the base of the triangle. Wrap the corners around your left index and middle fingers and pinch them together to seal. You should have a small gap between the filling and the pinched dough, like a ring.
- Working quickly, place the tortelloni on the prepared baking sheets, spaced apart, until ready to cook. Don’t let them touch or they may stick together. Repeat until you run out of dough or filling. You should have 30 to 40 pieces.
- To make the sauce and finish, heat your oven to 350°F and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin seeds with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Evenly distribute the seeds on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 11 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Drop the tortelloni into the boiling water.
- Heat a 12-inch sauté pan over high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and the measured butter and bring to a simmer. Cook the tortelloni about 80 percent through and almost al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scoop them out of the water (reserve it rather than draining) and drop them in the sauté pan along with the sage. Swirl, and quickly reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon. If it looks too dry, add a few more tablespoons of pasta water to keep a saucy consistency and continue cooking until the pasta is tender, about 90 seconds. Taste the sauce and add more salt if necessary.
- To serve, divide the pasta and sauce between four warmed plates. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and the toasted pumpkin seeds.