Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gluten-Free Ratio Rally: Tortellini

Welcome to another monthly installment of the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally! (For those who missed out on our participation in previous months, don't miss our Mesquite Scones from May and our Almond Choux Florentines from June...)

This month's theme is pasta. In principle, it's super simple - the myriad shapes and sizes across a wide range of cuisine all start with two primary ingredients: flour and eggs. For this month's rally, the working ratio is 3:2, flour: egg.

We've certainly tackled from-scratch gluten-free pasta before, such as in our recipes for Butternut Squash Ravioli, Gnocchi, and Fettuccine, not to mention linguine (with clam sauce), (meat lover's and Mediterranean) lasagna, and more. But we've never approached pasta from the perspective of a ratio before. In fact, you might say our typical approach is the anti-ratio anti-recipe. Instead of relying on hard and fast quantities of ingredients, it's an intuitive method of preparation. You make a well of flour, add the eggs, and start mixing. When the pasta dough reaches the desired consistency, you're done and ready to form it into the chosen noodle. With this method, I know about how much flour I need for a given number of number of eggs, but I could never tell you that I used X grams or Y cups of flour.

Well, that's about to change. For this month's ratio rally, we've challenged ourselves by laying out several goals: 1) "formalize" a pasta recipe with ratios, 2) develop a new pasta recipe (made richer with mostly egg yolks, versus all whole eggs), and 3) tackle tortellini, a pasta we haven't made from scratch before.

Tortellini - not to mention its variants, tortelloni and cappelletti - is a stuffed Italian pasta. It might have a meat filling or a veggie filling, and depending on the region and the preparation, might be served with a sauce or in a broth. For today's recipe, we went with a seasoned meat filling that includes a blend of turkey, pork loin, and pancetta. I have to say, we're really quite delighted with the result!

As for the pasta, it turned out great, though we ended up deviating from the "standard" ratio, migrating much closer to a 1:1 flour: egg ratio. But no matter. Scroll down for some step-by-step pictures of the tortellini-making process, and find the recipe at the bottom. Also, don't forget to visit Jenn over at Jenn Cuisine. She's hosting this month's rally, and will have links to all the other fabulous bloggers rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty with pasta!

Makes 48 tortellini

For the filling:

10g butter
120g lean ground turkey
120g pork loin, cut into small pieces
40g pancetta, diced
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper, dash each
1 large egg (50g)
8g Parmesan cheese

1. Melt the butter in a skillet over high heat. Add the meats and brown to cook thoroughly.
2. Put the meat in a food processor and pulse to cool.
3. Add the spices, egg, and cheese, and blend to combine and form a paste. Set aside.

For the pasta

240g Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Blend (plus extra)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
160g egg yolks (about 10)
100g whole eggs (about 2)

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, xanthan gum and salt.
2. Add the eggs, and mix well to form a dough ball.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough ball with the heel of your hand. Occasionally sprinkle the dough with flour, working in additional flour a little at a time until the dough is smooth and elastic, and just until it is no longer tacky to the touch.

Now you're ready to make some tortellini!

Making the tortellini

1. Divide the dough in half (or into whatever size pieces you find workable for rolling out).
2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a sheet as thin as you can make it without tearing.
3. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares.
4. Place a small dollop of meat filling into the center of each square.
5. Wet two adjacent edges with water, and fold the square over, creating a triangle with the filling inside. Press the edges firmly to seal.
5. Roll the base of the triangle up toward to the point of the triangle once.
6. Wrap the pasta around your pinky finger, with the point of the triangle on the outside.
7. Wet one end of the pasta, overlap the second end, and pinch to seal.
8. Boil in vigorously boiling water for 4 minutes.
9. Serve with your favorite sauce or broth.


This recipe is: gluten-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free, fish-free, shellfish-free, refined-sugar-free

This recipe is easily made dairy-free by cooking the meat in olive oil or non-dairy butter and omitting the Parmesan cheese.

A couple of tips for working with from-scratch pasta:

1. When rolling out pasta dough, I like to use a rolling pin, a flour sifter, and an offset spatula. The use of the rolling pin is obvious. I like the flour sifter because it allows me to give a light even coat of flour to the work surface and to the pasta dough as I'm working, to prevent any sticking. The offset spatula is great for getting under the rolled pasta dough to "liberate" any stuck spots, and to pick up the pasta dough to flip it over.

2. A pizza cutter and a long straight edge works great for cutting the squares.

Finally, for today's post we photographed our tortellini with a very basic red sauce and just a touch of grated Parmesan. But we'd also recommend serving it with a garlic cream sauce, or simply olive oil and garlic.

- Pete


maryfran said...

This looks absolutely fabulous! I never have tried anything more complicated than linguini myself....I guess I am making even more home made pasta this month!

Caneel said...

Look how gorgeous that tortellini is! I LOVE tortellini but don't know if I'd ever have thought I could attempt to make it myself. Thanks for the step-by-step - maybe I can now that I've tackled homemade pasta!

Melissa said...

Oh heck yes. I'm going to try this with a spinach ricotta filling.

Kristin Overton said...

You are my hero. Actually. Tortellini is the single most desired yet unattainable food that I have yet to find gluten free. I think I'll have a much greater appreciation for it once it's taken this much effort however! lookin' good...

Karen said...

I cannot contain my enthusiasm --tortollini -- I know you have a great recipe without even trying it yet if you can make this. The dough looks fabulous. Thank you!

Karen said...

I cannot contain my enthusiasm --tortollini -- I know you have a great recipe without even trying it yet if you can make this. The dough looks fabulous. Thank you!

Jenn said...

Gorgeous!! I love how obviously easy to work with this pasta looks by your photos, I've never had that much luck shaping stuffed gluten free pasta! I also added in some egg yolks and really liked the effect it had on the dough. fantastic :)

Erin Swing said...

These are so precious! Your dough looks amazing! So thin. Great technique. Yolks act as a great binder and emulsifier. See, isn't weighing ingredients for optimum results awesomely easy & fail-safe? I love it! -says the chemist. ;)

The InTolerant Chef said...

These look great and I'll be trying them soon. I find gfree pasta a bit hit and miss with glugginess, but I've seen none as lovely and thin as this, great job!

peterbronski said...

Thanks for your compliments, everyone! Enjoy the tortellini! We'll be making more this weekend, too. =)

Cheers, Pete

Dr. Jean Layton-GFDoctor said...

Thanks so much for the step by step pictures of the forming. I've always had trouble making tortellinis perfect, but your technique makes it look simple.
Can't wait to try it out!

Deb said...

Gluten-free? Yeah! Try HimalaSalt pink salt from Sustainable Sourcing (here's their website: ). It's great because they have their own facility, so no nasty cross-contamination! Gotta love THAT! Can't wait to make these tortellinis--they're so cute!! And your directions are perfect...

Tara Barker said...

You guys completely rock. Tortellini!!! And perfect-looking ones, at that. Awesome. This may be my next gf pasta project. And based on the looks of your dough, I may add even more egg yolk to my recipe. Yum.

peterbronski said...

Hi Dr. Jean... With a good workable GF dough, the tortellini are surprisingly easy to make! Enjoy!

Hi Deb... Thanks!

Hi Tara... Thanks for your compliments. Yeah, this time I went with many more egg yolks (compared to whole eggs) than usual, but I loved the result, and will continue to go this route with other pastas in the future. Have fun!

Cheers, Pete

Jessica said...

I've been gluten free for five years, and haven't had homemade pasta all this time--I cannot wait to make this recipe, it looks amazing. I have a related question: if I wanted to make a half batch, or a third of a batch, of this pasta, would it be as simple as cutting it in half/third?

I am searching for a simple one batch (or two batch) pasta recipe that utilizes a flour blend rather than a mix of flours--I am constrained for space and don't bake enough to keep a collection of flours on hand. This recipe looks perfect, but I just don't want to have to make quite so much pasta at once.

Thanks for reading that novel!

peterbronski said...

Hi Jessica... You could certainly scale the recipe up or down. Enjoy!

Cheers, Pete

Anonymous said...

Has anyone had any luck in freezing these? I'm going to try to make a large batch this weekend and hopefully freeze the extra. Thanks!

threehappypenguins said...

What on earth is the measurement "og"? I want to measure the flour, but I don't know what that means. Grams? Ounces? I have seen "g" and "oz", but not "og".

kellibronski said...

Hi threehappypenguins,

The measurements are all in grams. Each measurement finishes in a 0 which is why it could look like an "0g" measurement. 10 grams, 120 grams, 40 grams ect...

Happy cooking!