Lombardians have far too often been unfairly accused of failing to contribute to the Italian cuisine – and that because they were the ones building the economic hub driving the Italian economy so that the South can indulge in a few extra long and lazy lunches! It is forgotten, all too soon, that Italian blood also flows though the veins of the Milanesi and whilst they may not spend as much time on the preparation of food during the working week, they have, most certainly, found a way to eat exceptionally well.
Even the Milanese interpretation of fast food – as evident in dishes like the Casoeula, is far above the norm in world today and in this case portrays one pot food at it’s absolute best. Anyone that has ever taken a bite of warm buckwheat Pizzoccheri, eaten Risotto with Ossobuco, ended a meal with fresh Grana padano or Robiola and sipped a Fernet Branca in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milano knows that the people of Milano could only have used sheer culinary genius to create a cuisine so advanced that it allows them to work and feast with equal enthusiasm.
On feast days, however, tables groan under mountains of meat dishes of such variety that it beggars belief. Venison, beef and poultry are always accompanied by polenta, turkeys and chickens are stuffed fat and the Tortelli di Zucca , bring tears to grown men’s eyes.
Tortelli di Zucca – Pumpkin Filled Ravioli
Pasta with pumpkin filling
For the Filling
- 2 kg pumpkin (peeled and baked for 20 minutes at 200 C)
- 150 g crushed Amaretti (little biscuits)
- 50 g sweet and sour preserved apples (or any kind Mostarda*, finely chopped)
- 150 g Parmigiano (freshly grated)
- ¼ onion (finely chopped)
- nutmeg (Freshly grated)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 50 g butter
For Fresh Pasta
- 2 extra large eggs
- 200 g strong flour
- Sea salt to taste (a pinch should do)
Cut the pumpkin in little cubes and cook it in a large pot.
Crush cooked pumpkin with a fork and add the preserved fruit, crushed Amaretti, chopped onion, nutmeg and the Parmigiano to the mixture.
- Stir everything together with a wooden spoon and ensure that the mixture is dry.
With a pasta machine, roll out the pasta dough and cut the dough into rectangles, about 4cm x 8 cm.
- Put a teaspoonful of mixture on each piece of dough and fold the pasta over in the middle to enclose the filling.
- Press the edges together firmly.
- Cook the tortelli in plenty of salted water and serve with melted butter only.
For Fresh Pasta
- Place everything in your food processor, process until a ball is formed and the pasta is smooth and gleaming.
- Wrap in cling-wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for about 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Use as required
Like the Romans and Greeks of old, the green asparagus has been favoured by Lombardians for generations and even though the white variety is famously grown in areas like Bassano di Grappa. The best way to eat these fresh green asparagus is steamed lightly and served with butter, poached eggs and generous shavings of Parmigiano.