Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova.

Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova.

Seasoned with butter and sage and made with amaretti bicuits in the filling, these traditional pumpkin tortelli are a divine historical stuffed pasta from Mantova in Northern Italy.

Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

Tortelli di Zucca.

Pumpkin tortelli actually date back to the Renaissance, when pumpkins first arrived in Italy from Central America.  Rich stuffed pastas were very popular among the ruling classes and nobility at the time. In fact, the first written mention of pumpkin tortelli was in 1544 by Cristoforo Messisbugo, a Ferrarese cook who worked for the ruling Gonzaga family in Mantova. He refers to them in his recipe book as ‘turtell’ or ‘riturtell’.

Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

A traditional Christmas dish.

However, pumpkin tortelli also became popular with the peasant population because pumpkins were actually considered humble food and these stuffed pasta dishes were a nutritious way to use up leftover pasta. Eventually pumpkin tortelli became a traditional Christmas Eve dish in the towns and areas where it is most eaten.

ingredients for Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

This is probably because these tortelli are made without meat and, as I have mentioned in other recipe posts, Christmas Eve is a religious day of fasting and abstinence in many Italian homes. Italians call these days giorni di magro (meaning lean days) and the dishes themselves  ‘piatti di magro’ (meaning lean plates).

roasted pumpkin slices for Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

Different versions of pumpkin tortelli

Slightly different versions of pumpkin tortelli are made in many towns and provinces in Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. In some places, they also serve them with tomato sauce. However, this recipe is based on what many feel is the most famous type of pumpkin tortelli, that from Mantova.

amaretti biscuits in food processor

This version of Pumpkin tortelli

Having said that I should mention that one traditional ingredient is missing from my recipe. I mean I didn’t use it. Instead I added a little lemon zest. This is because I didn’t have any and it’s not so easy to come by outside of Northern Italy. I’m talking about Mantovana Mostarda, a local condiment made with quince and mustard essence that is often eaten with cheese or boiled meats.

filling for Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

Even if made without the mostarda, this dish is absolutely divine. The pasta is quite simple to make and the filling contains roasted pumpkin, eggs, crushed amaretti, grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano. a little lemon zest  and nutmeg. However, for best results, it’s traditional to make the filling the day before and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours or at least overnight.

making homemade pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

Can be frozen

Once made, pumpkin tortelli can be frozen uncooked. Spread them on a try in the freezer first and once they are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag. You can cook them from frozen. But, better a few at a time, otherwise the water temperature will drop.

Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

This is a great recipe for a festive menu during the upcoming holidays. In Italy, it would be served as a primo (first course) before the main course. Why not add an Italian touch to your holiday menu and include this divine dish.

If you make this pumpkin tortelli recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon Appetito!

Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova

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5 from 24 votes
Pumpkin Tortelli; recipe from Mantova
Pumpkin Tortelli with Amaretti biscuits.
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

These divine tortelli from Mantova in Northern Italy are filled with roasted pumpkin, crushed amaretti biscuits, eggs, cheese and nutmeg. They are traditionally served on Christmas Eve dressed in a sage butter but would make a delicious addition to any festive menu.

Course: Homemade Pasta, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Lombardy, Northern Italy
Keyword: amaretti, pumpkin, ravioli, tortelli, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
Ingredients
For the pasta
  • 400 g Italian '00' flour (14oz) You can also use all purpose flour to make pasta)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 pinch salt
For the filling
  • 1 kg pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano (3.5 oz) grated
  • 100 g Amaretti biscuits (3.5 oz) crushed
  • 1 lemon for zest
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg freshly grated
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp Mostarda Mantovana optional but leave out lemon zest if you use mostarda
For the dressing
  • 100 g butter
  • 6-8 sage leaves
  • grana or parmigiano as required
Instructions
Make the filling
  1. Grind the amaretti biscuits in a food processor or crumble them finely using your hands. If using, chop the mostarda as finely as possible. 

  2. Cut the pumpkin into large pieces, remove the seeds and cook it in the oven at 200° for about 20 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin pieces and your oven. You need it to be soft and slightly browned on the outside.

  3. You can also steam the pumpkin but the original method is ‘baked’and the taste will be slightly less sweet. Remove the peel from the baked pumpkin pieces and place the pulp in a bowl, puree it with a fork or hand held blender. It needs to be a little rough, not too smooth. 

  4. Add the grated cheese, the crumbled amaretti, the chopped mostarda (if you have it), the eggs, a little grated nutmeg, the zest of one lemon and a little salt. Mix the ingredients well until you have a homogeneous mixture. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 24 hours or overnight in the fridge or a cool place. 

Make the pasta
  1. Sift the flour into a little mound on a pastry board, make a well in the middle, then add in the eggs. (you can do this first part in a bowl or stand mixer. Then turn the dough out onto a pastry board and finish kneading by hand)

  2. Mix and knead the ingredients by hand until you obtain a soft and non-sticky mixture. If it is too sticky (it may depend on the degree of absorption of the flour) add a little more flour. If, on the other hand, the dough is dry, you can moisten it by adding a little water at room temperature. 

  3. However, it’s advisable to respect the egg to flour ratio to obtain a perfect egg pasta. 

  4. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap it in transparent film. Let it rest at room temperature in a cool place for at least 30 minutes. Then take the dough and divide it into about 4 parts (as you work it, leave the rest covered with cling film so it won’t dry out). Use a rolling pin or pasta machine to make rectangles that are about 1 mm thick. 

  5. Place the ready rolled out dough rectangle on a lightly floured work surface, cut it with a pastry cutter to make a strip about 9-10 cm wide. Place some teaspoons of filling along the upper part of the strip (leaving at least 1 cm from the edge) and 2-3 centimeters from each other. Fold the strip of fresh pasta over to cover the filling. If the dough is a bit 'dry, you can brush it slightly with a little water.

  6. Press between the spaces of the small pieces of filling to remove any air and prevent the dough from separating. Then cut out the tortelli with a serrated pastry wheel. The shape and size of the tortelli can vary according to taste and traditions. I made them rectangular and I also made some semi-circular by using a round pastry cutter! 

  7. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. As you make the tortelli, place them on a tray lined with lightly floured dry paper or kitchen cloth. Continue until you finish the fresh pasta and the stuffing.

Finish the dish
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.

  2. While the water is boiling, melt the butter in a small frying pan or skillet. Add the sage leaves and cook until they start to crisp. Remove from the heat.

  3. Cook the tortelli in the boiling water until they rise to the surface. Should be about 4-5 minutes depending on the size and amount of filling. (remove and try one if they don't seem to rise.

  4. Remove the tortelli from the water with a slotted spoon and add to the pan with the sage butter. Mix a little so the tortelli are coated in the butter and then plate with a sprinkling of grated cheese. Serve immediately. 

Recipe Notes

If you use the Mostarda Mantovana, you can leave out the lemon zest. Recipe times don't include leaving the filling in the fridge overnight. 

Pumpkin tortelli can be frozen uncooked. Spread them on a tray in the freezer first and once they are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag. You can cook them from frozen. But, better a few at a time, otherwise the water temperature will drop.

 

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pumpkin tortelli
Yum

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38 Comments

  • Danielle Wolter
    March 1, 2019 2:16 pm

    i don’t need it to be christmas to enjoy these delicious little morsels. what great flavors! it sounds just incredible!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:20 pm

      Thank you dear Danielle! I agree these tortelli are so divine they need to be eaten more than once a year!

  • Renu
    January 2, 2019 2:39 pm

    What a coincidence, I was looking for some tortelli recipe today and this looks like, I have found the best. They look so yum and the filling inside looks delicious.

  • Krista Price
    December 26, 2018 4:49 am

    These look incredible! This would be a fun dish to change things up a bit on Thanksgiving! Looking forward to adding this to my spread next year!

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:05 am

      Thank you Krista! I agree a perfect Thanksgiving menu addition! Am sure it will be a success at your next Thanksgiving!

  • April
    December 23, 2018 2:04 am

    I have tried a lot of different types of pasta but I don’t think I have ever had pumpkin tortelli. It is one of those dishes that I am yet to discover but I am taking it slow. Looks absolutely delicious though, and I can’t wait to try it!

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:17 am

      Thank you April! I’m sure that you will fall in love with pumpkin tortelli once you try them! So yummy and perfect to winter entertaining!

  • Cheese Curd In Paradise
    December 22, 2018 6:59 am

    That filling is stunning. I would love the eat a plate of this pasta for dinner!

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:18 am

      Grazie! Yes the filling in these tortelli is divine! Hope you’ll make some yourself!

  • Lauren Vavala | DeliciousLittleBites
    December 21, 2018 9:43 pm

    The flavors in this recipe are so, so good! The use of amaretti biscuits is just such a great idea – yum!

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:19 am

      Thanks so much Lauren! I LOVE the use of amaretti in the filling for these tortelli! So scrumptious!

  • Kelly Anthony
    December 21, 2018 9:09 pm

    I’m drooling over this pumpkin tortelli recipe. I wish I could take a bite right now. Thank you for sharing!

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:20 am

      Happy you like this recipe Kelly! I have to say these tortelli are to-die-for delicious!

  • Heidy L. McCallum
    December 21, 2018 9:06 pm

    This was an excellent read thanks for the bits of history and an amazing new recipe to try.

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:29 am

      So glad you liked this post and recipe Heidy! I love researching the history of food and recipes and sharing it with my visitors! It’s so nice to hear these bits of information are appreciated!

  • Matt @ Plating Pixels
    December 21, 2018 8:55 pm

    Never made them homemade but looks like a fun recipe for date night!

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:30 am

      This is a perfect date night recipe Matt! Definitely the way to win hearts!

  • Mary Bostow
    December 21, 2018 8:37 pm

    this looks amazinnnngggg! i can NOT wait to try making this! Wow and wow, this is so delicious and it makes my mouth watering

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:32 am

      Thanks so much Mary! I’m thrilled you like this recipe! I’m sure you’ll totally fall in love with these tortelli when you make them!

  • Catherine Brown
    December 21, 2018 8:28 pm

    These flavors go so well together! I never thought to use amaretti in my pumpkin ravioli… now I want to try this! 🙂

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:33 am

      Grazie Catherine! Yes this is such a flavourful recipe and the amaretti make it extra special! Hope you’ll give it a try!

  • Kacie Morgan
    December 21, 2018 12:54 pm

    This would be an alternative kind of dish to tuck into over the festive season.

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:38 am

      I agree Kacie! In fact, this is a traditional Christmas dish here in Northern Italy! However, I think it’s perfect for any special occasion!

  • Stine Mari
    December 20, 2018 10:22 pm

    I love reading about the origin of dishes. Kind of feels closer to the history, can imagine people were sitting and eating the same thing I am eating now. And pumpkin and sage are two of my favorite ingredients when it comes to pasta, so I will definitely need to make this!

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:41 am

      I love discovering the origins of recipes too Stine! It’s amazing that this dish has been eaten in Italy for hundreds of years!

  • Linda
    December 20, 2018 7:09 pm

    Love this recipe! Homemade pasta is the best and this pumpkin tortelli is something I need to try asap.

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:43 am

      Thanks so much Linda! Yes, homemade pasta is the best! Apart from the fact it tastes better and is probably healthier, it’s so satisfying to make your own! This is definitely a homemade pasta recipe that will wow your guests too!

  • Amanda
    December 20, 2018 6:41 pm

    I’m so into the idea of stuffed pumpkin pasta! It sounds like everything I love in one little bite. Can’t wait to try these!

    • Jacqui
      December 28, 2018 10:45 am

      Pumpkin filled pasta is so delicious Amanda! I’m sure you’ll absolutely love these tortelli if you make them!

  • Danielle Wolter
    December 20, 2018 3:14 pm

    These look incredible. I am loving the pumpkin filling for this time of year. Great recipe!

  • Jeannette (Jay Joy)
    December 20, 2018 9:40 am

    I love the little history lesson on these. How amazing! Very cool. SO the weirdest thing… I live in Tonga and it has hundreds of little islands surrounding it. I went to an outer island to a lady’s restaurant who was from Europe. I had her pumpkin ravioli and they were amazing! I can’t wait to try this tortellis! Is a tortelli the same as a ravioli?

  • Michelle
    December 19, 2018 10:37 pm

    Pumpkin is just the best, its so comforting and reminds me of fall each and every time, what a great idea!

  • Elaine Benoit
    December 19, 2018 6:03 pm

    How fun!! Love the background and these tortelli look fabulous! I love homemade pasta so I have to try this asap!

  • kim
    December 19, 2018 6:02 pm

    Yum! I always love that pumpkin flavor!

  • Krista Price
    December 19, 2018 5:54 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post and learning about the origins of tortelli and pumpkin in Italy! These pumpkin tortellis look incredible!

  • Tawnie K Kroll
    December 19, 2018 5:22 pm

    This recipe is incredible! So creative!

  • Gloria
    December 19, 2018 5:21 pm

    I am a pumpkin lover…ALL ways. This looks great. I just might make this for Valentine’s Dinner….add a bottle of wine and some candlelight. Who needs high priced restaurants. This will be perfect.

  • Alyssa Pera
    December 19, 2018 5:14 pm

    These look heavenly. The homemade pasta is so tender! I recently had pumpkin ravioli for a Thanksgiving meal, and it became my new favorite holiday treat.

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