This was the second course of a meal I ate at Oasis in Puglia, after a similar yet contrasting antipasto of fresh ricotta and raw walnuts. The combination of ricotta and walnuts is so good, and the difference in flavour between raw and toasted walnuts so profound, that it made perfect sense to have one after another, a combination of dishes I occasionally reproduce at home.
Ingredients For the tortelloni
- Egg pasta dough made with 200g plain (Italian 00) flour, 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
- 250g ricotta (preferably sheep’s milk)
- 2 egg yolks
- 50g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra, in shavings, to serve
- A few grates of nutmeg
For the burnt walnut pesto:
- 1 garlic clove, very thinly and evenly sliced
- Sunflower or corn oil, for frying
- 80g shelled walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon picked thyme leaves
- 125ml extra virgin olive oil
- Crunchy sea salt (such as Maldon)
You can start by making either the pasta or the sauce. For the pasta filling, beat together the ricotta, egg yolks and grated Parmesan by hand and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg (the nutmeg should be a discernible flavour, but just a hint) to taste. Make the tortelloni exactly like tortellini, only a little larger – cut 6.5–7cm squares of pasta, and use a heaped teaspoon (8g) of filling on each.
Make the walnut pesto.
Starting from cold, fry the garlic in the vegetable oil (enough to eventually cover the walnuts) in a small pan over a medium-low heat. The garlic will sizzle for a while, then stop and turn an even golden brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper.
Add the walnuts to the oil, and fry until they are as dark as you can get them without burning, then drain. The colour of a very tan Mediterranean skin is good, as they will continue to brown more as they cool.
Crush the crispy garlic with the thyme leaves in a mortar until fine, then add the walnuts and pound, but leave a little texture.
Add the olive oil and stir in the crunchy sea salt to taste, seasoning also with pepper.
To assemble the dish, boil the tortelloni until al dente, a matter of minutes, then drain, and serve with the sauce sparsely drizzled over and a few scales of shaved Parmesan.
Recipe by Bocca di Lupo’s Jacob Kenedy