Tortelli alla maremmana (Maremma-style tortelli) is a typical first course loved in the Maremma: each place differentiates by shape and size. The name “tortelli” is misleading given that they are actually “ravioli” in varying sizes with a low filling to pasta ratio. In local jargon, it’s said that they must have a “wide footpath”.The recipe we recommend, written by Mariavittoria Sennati, have sides measuring about 7-8cm, but it is possible to make them even bigger, up to 14x7 square centimetres. In some parts of the Maremma (Sovana and the neighbouring towns) they use nettles in the filling, instead of chard and spinach; in other places (Arcidosso and Santa Fiora) mixed herbs from the fields are stirred into the sheep’s cheese.
Ingredients for the filling:
Prepare the pasta sheets in the usual way, making a well in the flour on the pastry board and pouring the beaten eggs and salt into the centre. Using a fork, add the flour and when the eggs and flour are completely combined, work with your hands for a while, pulling and rolling the dough, which will turn out with a smooth, fairly stiff finish. Wrap the dough in cling film or in a slightly damp tea towel and leave it to rest so that the gluten can be released and it is easier to roll out.
For the filling, wash the earthiest parts of the vegetables in lots of water and then boil them in the water that is left over from the last draining. Drain well and, once cooled, chop them on a chopping board and knead them into a bowl with the eggs, ricotta, parmesan, salt and spices.
Cut the thin sheet into two uniform strips. Lay a teaspoon-sized filling (you can use a pastry bag to help) down on one, place each teaspoonful around 8cm apart, and cover with the other sheet. With your fingers, press the dough around the filling so as to seal it and stop air bubbles forming, which could break the tortelli during cooking. Cut with a toothed wheel and arrange the tortelli, little by little as they are formed, on a tray sprinkled with semolina, grains or cornflour.
Cook them in lots of salted water for at least 10 minutes then drain them with a skimmer and layer them onto a serving dish, with a sauce of your choice. Before serving, leave to rest for a couple of minutes.