A heart attack on one big, delicious plate

Warning: Don't make this if you're worried about your arteries. Do make this if you can muster up enough gumption to save your fat and cholesterol calories, grams, and milligrams for days by eating only lettuce and/or other heathly roughage; because it's positively delectable.

The dried pasta you can get at a store just isn't comparable to homemade, fresh pasta. Loving Boyfriend and I scored a Marcato Atlas 150 Pasta Maker at a Goodwill store in Bend, OR last year for the bargain price of $10. We've used it probably 5 or 6 times, and although it sits lonely on its little shelf space for most of the year, unused, every time we actually get around to making pasta with it, we remember how amazing it tastes and vow to make homemade pasta far more often. But even though this has never fully come to fruition, I still love our $10 pasta roller with all my culinary heart, and I swear that somehow, some way, it's getting packed into the 400 cubic feet that we're allowed to bring to Hawaii with us when we move next year.

I don't know how long ago I aquired the cookbook, In the Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons (Maria Helm Sinskey), from a bargain bin, and although all of the recipes look quite tasty, I had yet to crack it open and actually whip one up. Then, recently, while reading through the book, I saw a recipe for Pumpkin tortellini with sage brown butter, and thinking of the pumpkin puree I had made in the Fall and stored in my freezer "for a rainy day," I knew I would be making it soon.

Last weekend, that time finally came when Loving Boyfriend actually said: "Let's make a big, elaborate dinner tonight." Now, pick your jaw off the floor - it's true! He really did say it! So I said "Okay! I have the perfect recipe. You're in charge of making the pasta dough" (He's the dough maker in our relationship). Well, he did. And here's the proof: (And if you even think for a moment that no, it has to be Michelle, boys don't want to make elaborate dinners and whip up pasta dough at their girlfriend's sultry whim, just you look at those hairy hands. And if you think MY dainty little girl hands look that hairy then you should just stop reading my blog RIGHT NOW!)

So we labored over the pasta dough, letting it rest at all the appropriate times, for all the appropriate lengths of time...okay, well, Loving Boyfriend labored over the pasta dough, but I labored over my glass of 2003 Dominio de Tares Albares, which was just as time-consuming in between all those "Oh, this is good," sip sip. "Really good." sniff. sip. sip. sip. And then set to work making the pumpkin filling (er, after sending Best Loving Boyfriend out to the grocery store because I forgot to buy the fontina that goes in it and holds everything together...oops), and trying to roll and shape little circles of pasta dough into pretty little tortellini.

Which isn't as easy as the directions made it sound.

Loving Boyfriend and I discovered that we are not good tortellini makers. In fact, even though we read the directions several times, our tortellini were not pretty (except for the single one up top, admittedly not belonging to your truly, but to LB), and not a single one looked like any of the others. But, who cares? They tasted good and that's all we cared about. By the time 9 pm rolled around (Wait, did it really take us that long? Yes.), we were starving, and the little pasta pillows were finally out of the water and the butter was browned and the sage leaves had been transformed into crispy little jewels. We plated our pasta, and enjoyed every last bite of the fruits of our labor, heart attack potential and all. Now for some more of that roughage...

Pumpkin Tortellini with Sage Brown Butter, from In the Vineyard Kitchen

Pasta Dough
3 1/2 cups all-purpose four (or 2 cups all-purpose and 1 1/2 semolina)
2 tsp. salt
5 large eggs
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Mix the flour (and semolina, if you're using it) and salt together in a mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs and oilve oil together in a separate bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the egg mixture. Mix until well combined. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water. Knead until smooth and elastic. Turn out onto the counter and knead a few more times. Cut into two equal pieces and let it rest at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for 1 hour. Roll the pasta dough out with a pasta machine following the manufactures instructions, and letting the dough rest (covered) after the first round of kneading in the machine. Roll out to the 2nd thinnest setting, dusting lightly with flour as needed. Lay the rolled pasta out on a counter dusted with flour, then cut out circles with a 2 3/4 inch round cutter. You can also do this by hand, by rolling the dough out to 1/4 inch, letting it rest for 10 minutes, then rolling it out again to the thickness of thin, thin cardboard with a lightly floured rolling pin, but it's much, much easier with a pasta machine.

Pumpkin Filling
2 cups pumpkin puree with no liquid added (or one 15 oz can solid pack pumpkin)
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup grated fontina
1/2 cup mascarpone
4 tbsp. brown sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Can be made up to 2 days in advance; refrigerate in an airtight container.

Place 1/2 tsp. of pumpkin filling in the center of each pasta circle. Using your finger, dampen half of the edge of the circle with a small amount of cold water. Fold the dough over, and press the two pieces of pasta together to seal, starting from the folded edge. Push out any air bubbles as you go. Dampen one point of the folded edge and bring the other point over, pressing together. Place them on a baking sheet dusted with flour and cover until you are ready to cook them. (These can be frozen for up to a week - do not thaw before you cook them.)

Preheat an oven to 250 F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add half the tortellini to the pot and bring back to a simmer (Do not let boil again! It will damage the tortellini and the filling might burst out!), reducing heat as necessary. After they rise to the top, let them cook for 1-2 more minutes. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon, and place them on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil and cover with foil to keep them warm. Repeat with the remaining tortellini, then place the sheet pan in the heated oven to keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

Sage Brown Butter
16 tbsps (2 sticks) unsalted butter
64 medium sage leaves

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and cook until the butter turns light brown and begins to foam (~ 2-3 minutes). Shake and stir the sage leaves so that they cook evenly and become crisp (these are SO good!). Remove the pan from the heat and immediately sprinkle with a little salt. Drizzle the hot butter over the pasta, and divide up the sage leaves among the plates.

9 comments from you:

ilva said...

I'm still searching for THE tortelli di zucca recipe-could this be IT I wonder??

MM said...

I want a pasta maker too! Is it terribly hard to clean? I have a bad feeling that if I got one I might end up looking like one of those fat Italian mamas in no time though ...

Oh by the way, is your bf related to Robin Williams? LOL ... just kidding!

vlb5757 said...

Michelle, I have that same pasta maker that I bought in Kansas City too many years ago to remember. I have used it once and have never used it again. Maybe I should. I have eaten pumpkin pasta with fried sage leaves in Seattle. I think it was the best way ever to use pumpkin!!! Yours looks pretty darned tasty too. So when I come to HI to stay in my guest room and scuba dive can we request that for a dinner????????

karina said...

Wow, does your pasta look beautiful! Well done!

breadcakecookies said...

I always admire people who make their own pasta. I really like to someday.

My problem is that I always wait until the last minute to decide on what I want to prepare for a meal. Then I ended up using dry spaghetti out of a box.

On the other hand, baking cookies is my forte. My meal is never complete without a cookie or two.

I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing it.

Takes One to Know One,
Smart Cookies for Smart people.

Kitchen Queen said...

Waitaminute, you're going to move to Hawaii?!? When was that decided? And when can I come visit you! :-)

I haven't tried making my own pasta because it seems like a lot of work for something that would probably make my daughter sick. But maybe I should try rice flour pasta.....your recipe sounds too good not to try!

cookiecrumb said...

So, even if you've only used the pasta machine five or six times in the last year, that still comes out to $2 or less per use. So far.
You'll get your money's worth.
Nice job.

rachel said...

Oooh, Rob and I LOVE pumpkin-stuffed pasta! Especially with the brown butter and sage combination. I'm very impressed with your tortellini. We tried to make them once and gave up in favour of the more straight-forward ravioli shape. Congratulations!

michelle said...

Hi Ilva! Try it and see what you think...I know that you're a primo pasta maker!!

Hi MM! Ha ha ha! Not that I'm aware of! No, it's not hard to clean - we just wipe ours off with a clean, dry rag b/c it's mostly just flour that gets on it.

Hi Vickie! Anything for you - I'll make sure to find some pumpkin ready for when you make your visit! We don't get ours out nearly enough, but it's definitely enjoyable when we do (we always make sure to have plenty of wine while making it!).

Hi Karina! Thank you! That one was LB's though, I can't take the credit...mine were not nearly as pretty!

Hi BCC! Thanks for coming by for a visit! That's usually what happens to me too - this is only for occasions where we feel like spending a LOT of time and energy on dinner (somewhat rare!). I love baking too - I'll go check out your blog as soon as I have a few extra minutes at work!

Hi KQ! Yep, it's been decided (recently). And of course you can come and visit - we're planning on having a guest room for all our mainland visitors! I don't know, but there has got to be some way to make it without regular flour b/c there are so many varieties available in the grocery store...you should definately try it, I know there are a lot of people out there who would benefit!

Hi cookiecrumb! Glad I have you to do my math - you're right, we'll get there someday...probably years from now!!

Hi Rachel! Wish I could take the credit! The pretty one was from LB - I think next time we'll go for the ravioli too - none of ours matched, and most of them were quite ugly. But boy did they taste good - anything slathered with that much butter has to!