This is a traditional dish from Mantova, an ancient Longobard medieval city in the north of Italy. In the mantuan dialect they are called “Turtei de soca.”
AN ORANGE LOVE STORY
As pumpkin and squash have been common in the Americas, they were introduced to Italy in the 1500s by Christopher Columbus from the New World. They appear in the early autumn and are a feature of our October table, but sometimes these vegetables are called winter squashes. First it was the legendary Zucca Barucca pumpkin, cultivated in Mantova (known in the US as Mantua). Here, in the north of Italy, pumpkins met the northern Italian tradition of stuffed pasta…and tortelli di zucca was born!
MEATLESS FILLED PASTA
If you say “autunno” – fall season – we say Tortelli di Zucca! This is one of the most popular dishes made with pumpkin. This special pasta was created at the court of the noble Gonzaga family. The origin of this delightful filled pasta comes from the Catholic tradition which mandates an avoidance of meats on Friday. So, in Mantua they created this meatless tortello. Today they are labeled as Traditional Italian Food Products (P.A.T.). This traditional recipe has been commonly known and enjoyed since the Renaissance. These tortelli are deliciously celebrated for their sweet and savory taste. They are made with egg pasta and filled with amaretti cookies, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and Mantuan mustard of pears, which gives them the distinctive sweet and sour taste.
HOW TO MAKE THE FILLING
You should cut the pumpkin into thick slices and bake them for 40 minutes. When they are smooth, reduce pulp with a fork. Add the crumbled amaretti cookies, the Parmigiano Reggiano, the mustard and a pinch of salt. According to the traditional recipe, the last touch is a butter and sage dressing. You could also sprinkle some Parmigiano Reggiano on top.
LIKE A SYMPHONY
Someone says that the tortelli di zucca is like a perfect symphony: the sweetness of the pumpkin, the saltiness of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the spiciness of the mustard, and the unexpected sweet note of amaretti cookies creates a culinary harmony. Today, pumpkin tortelli is a typical Christmas specialty, but is so delicious that it is enjoyed throughout the cold season. We recommend it as a great idea for your upcoming Halloween themed dinner!