28 February 2012

Triple-cheese saffron tortellini in a lemon basil cream sauce

Making my own pasta resulted in one of the biggest messes (if not the biggest mess) I ever left a kitchen in. And that includes the time when I made a fondant-covered three-layer orange buttercream cake for my mum's 51st birthday.
So why even blog about something that made me scrub and vacuum-clean the whole kitchen and wash more dishes than I've ever washed consequent to making one (!) bowl of food? Simple answer: because it was absolutely and totally worth it. Full stop.

I should propably say in advance: I don't own a pasta machine. I feel the same way about pasta machines as I do about food processors, icecream makers, rice cookers, bread machines, and all the other modern kitchen equipment that slipped my mind at the moment: You really don't need it. You can cope without it. It's just one more thing you have to clean, and people have been making food (i.e. pasta) for ages without it (i.e. the pasta machine). Really.  
But... ...having one makes your life (i.e. your pasta making) a sure hell of a lot easier. One more item to clean, yes, but a whole lot less of the kitchen to scrub and vacuum-clean and rid of sticky dough scraps. And also a lot less flour in your hair, on your arms, on your clothes, everywhere, basically. Boy, do I wish for a pasta machine ...! There. I admitted it. And I will buy one. Some day, when I have settled down.
Yikes, that's a terrifying thought. Settling down. But we're talking 5-10 years here at least. So I'll be making my pasta without a pasta machine for at least the next decade. And I will cope (and silently dream of other times to come).

So: If you have a pasta machine this recipe shouldn't be too much of an effort for you. If you don't, think twice before making it, especially if you're not that fond of cleaning the kitchen. But consider that you might be missing out on something very fabulous. Because even the best, fanciest, most expensive pasta creations could never ever taste as good as a bowl of thick, misshaped, homemade pasta. Never.

Also, I'm sad to report that the basil plant might not make it. I was too greedy. Again. And, as Nadja rightly remarked, the poor plants from the supermarket are always too weak to survive for more than a few days. I'll leave it in peace on the windowsill now and hope it might recover.And next time, I'll get my basil at the market garden.

Triple-cheese saffron tortellini in a lemon basil cream sauce
(Basic recipe by Leila Lindholm)

Serves 1 very hungry person

170 g/1 cup flour (the recipe asks for durum flour which is quite hard to come by but you can substitute any other flour you like. A heads-up in case you're working with volume measurements: durum flour is a bit heavier than all-purpose so you might need a bit more of the latter)
1 egg

50 g/0.25 cup blue cheese (roquefort or danish blue or gorgonzola)
50 g/0.5 cup parmesan
75 g/0.3 cup cream cheese
A few strands of saffron

Juice of half a lemon
50 g/0.2 cup cream
A handful of basil leaves
Some more parmesan

Crack the egg into a medium bowl. Little by little, add the flour and stir until combined. Transfer the dough to a floury surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Add more flour if necessary (which is very propable) and keep your hands and the surface well-floured all the time, the dough's quite sticky. Wrap the dough in cling film and refridgerate for half an hour.

Meanwhile, warm the saffron strands in the oven or the microwave for a few minutes (saffron releases its colour and taste better when it's been warmed before processing), then grind them with a pestle and mortar. Grate the parmesan and put it into a bowl with the other cheeses and the saffron. Combine, then season with pepper.

Remove the dough from the fridge, divide into thirds, and roll out each third on a well-floured surface with a well-floured rolling pin until it's about 2 mm/0.1 in thin. It's easiest if you put a layer of floured plastic foil between the dough and the table and between the dough and the rolling pin. This way you can prevent a lot of tiresome sticking from happening.

Cut the dough into squares of 2.5x2.5 cm/1x1 in. Put a dollop of the cheese mixture on each square, then wrap it up into your preferred shape. I went for the classic tortellini. Moisten the edges of the dough to make it stick together.

Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the tortellini for 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate some more parmesan and chop the basil. 

When the tortellini are done, drain them, put them in a nice bowl, drizzle with the lemon juice and the cream, and serve with parmesan and basil on top.

Leave the cleaning up until tomorrow.


  1. Ich hab mal Udonnudeln gemacht, das war eine Sauerei, aber wie du schon gesagt hast, jede Minute wert. An italienischen Nudeln hab ich mich noch nie versucht.

    (Und einen Reiskocher hab ich. Für japanischen Reis unerlässlich :))

    Liebe Grüße

  2. I love fresh pasta too, but haven't invested in a pasta maker. Yet.

    This looks delicious!