Tortelleti or Little Pasties – Week 6 2021


Welcome back for the FINAL where-the-heck-did-the-summer-go week of our 2021 Great Colonial Cook Off.

Before we get to this week’s recipe, I want give a big shout out to everyone who’s cooked along with us this season. Thanks sooooo much. The Cook Off isn’t a cook off without your participation. Also, a HUGE thanks to our cook off insiders – Jean Graham, Ashton Koch, Sharon Noel, Elizabeth Slucas, and Marianne Wong – who generously gave their time to research, select, and test this season’s recipes, as well as doing their best to keep me on track and on time (an impossible and thankless task). Interested in lending a hand behind the scenes for the 2022 cook off? Send us a message via the Colony of Avalon’s Facebook page and we’ll fill you in on the details.

But Enough With the Housekeeping

This week we’ll be making tortelleti. Yup, that’s right. We’re making our own pasta. If that thought has you breaking out in a cold sweat, fear not. As always, we have work arounds for anyone who isn’t up to the task of making fresh pasta from scratch.

Once again, our recipe comes, from Robert May’s 1660 classic The Accomplisht Cook and goes like this:

Tortelleti, or little Pasties

Mince some interlarded bacon, some pork, or any other meat, with some calves udder, and put to it a pound of fresh cheese, fat cheese, or parmisan, a pound of sugar, and some roasted turnips or parsnips, a quarter of a pound of currans, pepper, cloves, nutmegs, eight eggs, saffron; mingle all together, and make your pasties like little fishes, stars, rouls, or like beans or pease, boil them in fresh broth, and serve them with grated cheese and sugar, and serve them hot.

Tortelleti, or little Pasties otherwayes, of Beets or Spinage chopped very small.

Being washed and wrung dry, fry them in butter, put to them some sweet herbs chopped small, with some grated parmisan, some cinnamon, cloves, saffron, pepper, currans, raw eggs, and grated bread : Make your pasties, and boil them in strong broth, cream, milk, or almond-milk : thus you may do any fish. Serve them with sugar, cinnamon, and grated cheese.

Tortelleti, of green Pease, French Beans, or any kinde of Pulse green or dry.

Take pease green or dry, French beans, or garden beans green or dry, boil them tender, and stamp them ; strain them through a strainer, and put to them some fried onions chopped small, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and nutmeg, some grated parmisan, or fat cheese, and some cheese curds stamped. Then make paste, and make little pasties, boil them in broth, or as before said, and serve them with sugar, cinnamon, and grated cheese in a fine clean dish.

As you can see, this recipe is actually three separate recipes for tortelleti filling. Since we did not have access to a calf’s udder, we tested the spinach and pea versions. You’ll find modern interpretations for both of these options below. If you have some spare calf’s udder in the fridge, by all means give the first option a try. We’d LOVE to hear how it turns out.

Interestingly, May does not provide a recipe for the “paste” or pasta dough. We used this one, but feel free to substitute your own, or use some pre-made sheets of fresh pasta from your local supermarket. We won’t judge. If you can’t find fresh pasta, or are really looking for a time-saver, you can also use won ton wrappers. The texture and flavour will be different, but if it works for you, go for it.

If you have a pasta machine or a pasta attachment for your food processor, it’s time to pull it out and dust it off. If you don’t, you can join Lori and roll the pasta by hand with a rolling pin. Never rolled pasta before? Me neither. I found this video very helpful.

Top Tips

  • It’s essential that you keep rolling the pasta until it is very thin, otherwise your tortelleti will be tough and chewy (like mine were). Ideally, the pasta should be about 2mm thick. No ruler handy? You should be able to see your hand and fingers through the dough.
  • Don’t try to roll all the pasta at once …. unless you have a HUGE table. Instead, divide your pasta dough in four and roll each quarter separately. Wrap the other three pieces in a plastic bag, cling film or a clean, damp dish towel to keep the dough from drying out.
  • Feel free to make your tortelleti any shape you like. Follow May’s advice and make them in the shape of stars of fishes, ravioli squares or re-create traditional Italian tortellini. Never shaped tortellini? Check out this video for a quick tutorial.
  • Don’t overfill your tortelleti (again, voice of experience here). If you are making traditional Italian tortellini, you’ll only need about a 1/2 teaspoon of filling for each 2” x 2” square of pasta.
  • Finally, this recipe makes a LOT of tortelleti. Good news! They freeze really well. Just lay them out on a tray and pop them into the freezer. Once they’re firm, you can transfer them into a plastic bag.

A batch of dough ready for resting. if your dough is dry at first, don’t worry and keep kneading. Mine took about 15 minutes of steading kneading before it became smooth and elastic.

What NOT to do. As you can see, the pasta is still quite thick. As a result, my tortelleti were pretty darn chewy. Learn from my mistake! Keep rolling until your pasta is about 2mm thick, or you can see your hand through it.


As always, snap photo of your tortelleti and add it to the comments section of the recipe post on the Colony of Avalon’s Facebook page for a chance to win the weekly and grand prize.

Deadline for this week’s entries is 11:59 pm, Wednessay, August 18, 2021. Good Luck!