Tortellini con burro e salvia

by Ursula Ferrigno

Pillowy cheese-stuffed pasta parcels with butter and sage

This Umbrian dish is one of those that I cook regularly, as it never disappoints. Sage is valued by the Italians, as it is said to clarify the mind.

The tortellini can be prepared in advance and kept in the freezer. You will only need about half of the pasta for this recipe, but it is difficult to make a smaller amount. Wrap the extra pasta well in cling film and keep in the fridge for up to 36 hours.


For the pasta:
200g Italian ‘00’ flour, plus more for dusting
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
A pinch of sea salt

For the filling:
50g ricotta
25g fontina
25g parmesan, freshly grated
½ an egg, beaten
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
A small handful of fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

To finish:
25g unsalted butter
A small handful of fresh sage leaves
Parmesan, freshly grated


First make the pasta. Pour the flour onto a clean surface. Make a large rabbit hole in the middle, add the oil and crack in the eggs. Mix the eggs and oil with a fork, then when the eggs are slack gradually add in the flour, flicking bit by bit from the sides. Once the egg mixture has absorbed the flour you will have a rough dough that needs to be kneaded well until it is strong and soft like silk. This will take approximately 5 mins.

Once smooth, flatten, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in a cool place for about 30 mins. Mix together all the filling ingredients and beat thoroughly.

Roll the dough out in a pasta machine. Alternatively, divide the dough into manageable pieces and keep those you are not working on covered. Take 1 piece of dough and, with the heel of your hand, press it out. Using a long, thin rolling pin and a little flour, roll out the dough to a paper-thin sheet. Cut the pasta into 5cm diameter circles.

Place small spoonfuls of the filling on one side of each circle, dampen the edges, then fold the dough over the filling to make a half-moon (don’t worry if the edges won’t quite meet), making sure there is little or no trapped air, and press down to seal. Curl the triangle around one of your index fingers, bringing the bottom two corners together, and press these together to seal. Leave to dry briefly on a flour-dusted tray.

Put the tortellini in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, adding a handful at a time. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and poach at a gentle simmer for about 3-5 mins. When they rise to the top of the pan, count 30 secs, then remove with a slotted spoon and place in a warmed serving dish.

Melt the butter and pour over the tortellini. Garnish with sage leaves and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

ALTERNATIVE: Try frying the sage leaves until crisp, before scattering them over the tortellini. It is also delicious with a guinea fowl broth.

Recipe: Ursula Ferrigno