Yesterdish’s Chestnut and Pumpkin Tortelloni

Let’s not be done with the cold weather, yet.

If you’ve never lived in a city, you may not be able to appreciate the cold weather as much as we do. When you live out in the country, the cold means scraping ice off the car and shoveling a path to the mailbox. In the city, it means Starbucks has pumpkin spice syrup. Similarly, while warm weather means a blooming herb garden for the rural set, to me, it means the city is going to turn into one very large concrete grill, populated by tourists who seem to have a life goal of blocking your way, so you’re stuck sweltering.

So I celebrate the cold, when I can get it, and chestnuts and pumpkin are fantastic examples of the delicious things you can get in the cold. Both start their season in September, continuing till December for chestnuts and March for pumpkin.

The richness of the ricotta makes it impossible to tell where the pumpkin ends and the chestnut begins.

This is an entirely weeknight-appropriate preparation, however, as it used cooked chestnuts in a pouch and canned pumpkin. (While it’s possible to use fresh pumpkin, be aware of two things: one, that the water content of fresh pumpkins varies wildly, and two, the pumpkins you use for jack-o-lanterns have delicious seeds but flavorless flesh.)

Shaping tortelloni isn’t rocket science, and there’s no penalty for doing it one way versus another. It’s essentially a four-step process, once you’ve cut circles out of the dough. Fill the circle; fold in half and seal the edge, using a bit of water to seal it; wrap it around a finger and pinch the tails together; and fold the “skirt” down, so the sealed edge is about parallel to the filled edge.

(Does precision in this process really matter? No, no it does not, in my experience. Usually, no matter how gently you cook them, the cooking process will change the shape of your tortelloni, so there’s no real prize for absolute perfection, unless you’re serving them raw. Just try to preserve the hole in the middle, which catches more sauce, else you’re just making lopsided round ravioli.)

Semi-obviously, the difference between tortelloni and tortellini is size, so you can make tortellini out of the same recipe by using a smaller cutter (I just use biscuit cutters). For tortellini, use something around an inch and a half in diameter.

The first flavor you taste is the pumpkin and a hint of sage, but the finish of the bite is entirely the chestnut and Parmesan, generating a nutty warmth that could even be mistaken for pine nuts. The richness of the ricotta makes it impossible to tell where the pumpkin ends and the chestnut begins.

A note on adjusting the filling for taste: be hesitant and taste frequently when mixing. It would be easy to overpower the chestnut. Don’t. If this was a pumpkin and gorgonzola tortelloni (which would be delicious), there’d be no reason not to double the amount of sage and garlic, because nothing is going to cover up gorgonzola. Trust me, I view self control as an absolute last resort in any situation, but I’m afraid chestnut demands it.

You should also strain the canned pumpkin a bit. I just use a yogurt strainer, but a coffee filter in a colander would work, too. Just give it a good half-hour, stirring every ten minutes.

Traditionally speaking you’d use a sage and butter sauce on pumpkin-filled pastas, but this isn’t a traditional pasta (chestnut tortelloni are a thing, and pumpkin ravioli are a thing, but chestnut and pumpkin tortelloni… well, I’ve never seen them, anyway). I had some andouille, however, and smoked pork pairs well with all of the ingredients, so I diced it, seared it, and reduced to a sauce a mixture of white wine, butter, a few sage leaves, and a bit of chicken stock to tame the sweetness of the wine.

That said, spinach and tomato would’ve worked. Goat cheese and morel mushrooms would’ve worked. Chestnut and pumpkin tortelloni play well with others. Not like those damned warm-weather tourists.

From Yesterdish’s recipe box.

Yesterdish’s Chestnut and Pumpkin Tortelloni

Puree in food processor:
1/4 c. pumpkin, strained
1/4 c. ricotta
3 oz. roasted chestnuts
2 oz. Parmesan, shredded
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 Tbsp. chopped sage
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Seasoned salt and pepper, to taste

Fills 4 dozen tortelloni
Use 3x Basic Pasta Dough recipe.

Serve with sage and butter or sausage and wine sauce.

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