Ricotta Tortelloni with Butter, Sage and Hazelnuts

Our resident slow-food queen Julia Busuttil-Nishimura (well-known and loved from her Ostro blog) has been sharing her delicious handmade pasta recipes with us all this month.

Today Julia brings us a simple, classic tortelloni dish (not to be confused with tortellini, its smaller counterpart!) from her new brilliant new cookbook.

Julia Busuttil-Nishimura

Serve this tortelloni with butter, sage and hazelnuts (or any pasta, really!) with a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese to finish. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins and Nat Turnbull.

Rolling and filling the tortelloni. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins and Nat Turnbull.

Preparing to heat the sage, hazelnuts and butter for the tortelloni sauce. Photo – Armelle Habib.

Tortelloni with butter, sage and hazelnuts. A rich, warm and satisfying dish. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins and Nat Turnbull.

Julia Busuttil-Nishimura
24th of October 2017

In my book, you will find recipes that I hope will bring you great joy to prepare. They are yours for the taking – a suggestion on how to cook and eat – with room for your own tweak or addition. If your garlic is strong and sharp, perhaps you will add less than I have stated. Or maybe your sage leaves are less perfumed than usual, so you will throw in a few extra. For this reason, it is important to taste everything: the raw ingredients and the dish throughout the cooking or making.

Today, I share with you my recipe for ricotta tortelloni with butter, sage and hazelnuts.

Filled pasta takes a little time to make, but is well worth your efforts. Rolling, filling and folding pasta is meditative, and great way to calm a busy mind. The filling is simple, but really lovely and subtle, especially with the buttery sauce. You could make tortellini, the more common, smaller version of this pasta, but they do take a lot longer to prepare. You can make the tortelloni either beginning with a square or a circle to give a slightly different shape. I like to make them from a circle, which results in nice round, plump tortelloni, but do as you prefer.

Usually, I would use whole eggs for pasta – at a ratio of 1 egg per 100 g of flour – but for a filled pasta, it’s better to enrich the dough with a little more egg yolk instead, resulting in a finer pasta with better structure.


For the Tortelloni Dough

300 g tipo 00 our, plus extra for dusting
pinch of sea salt
2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
1–2 tablespoons lukewarm water, if needed

For the filling

350 g fresh full-fat ricotta
100 g parmesan, finely grated
2 egg yolks
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
small handful of at-leaf parsley
leaves, finely chopped (optional)
sea salt and black pepper

For the sauce

1 egg white, lightly beaten
100 g lightly salted butter
small bunch of sage, leaves picked
40 g (1/4cup) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
grated parmesan, to serve


To make the tortelloni dough, tip the flour and salt onto a clean work surface and combine. Create a well in the centre and crack in the eggs and yolks. Gently whisk the eggs using a fork, then slowly bring in the flour and mix to incorporate. When the dough becomes stiff, use your hands to mix until the dough is soft and malleable. 

Depending on the type of flour you’ve used, you may need to add the water to bring the dough together – if so, start with one tablespoon and only add the second tablespoon if you need to.

Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Flatten into a disc, cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, mix all of the ingredients together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

Divide the pasta dough into four pieces. Cover three of the pieces and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin into a rough disc shape around 3 mm thick. Roll the dough through a pasta machine set to the widest setting, then roll again through the narrower settings, dusting with a little flour between each roll if needed, until the pasta sheet is about 30 cm long. 

Fold the dough back in on itself so it’s a bit narrower than the width of the machine and use a rolling pin to flatten slightly. Set the machine back to the widest setting and roll back through the first settings again, folding and flattening the pasta dough before each roll. Repeat this process
two more times, so you’ve rolled the dough through the widest settings, folding between each roll, three times in total. This makes the pasta nice and strong, and you can now roll the dough through the settings until the pasta is around 1–1.5mm thick.

Cut into rounds using a 7 cm circle cutter and place 1 teaspoon of filling into the centre of each round. Working quickly so the pasta doesn’t dry out, brush a little egg white around the edge of the circle, then fold into a half-moon shape, pressing the edges to seal. With the straight edge facing you, bring the corners together (so the straight edge
curves) and press them together gently with your thumb and index finger. 

Set aside on a lightly floured tray and repeat with the remaining dough and filling, re-rolling any scraps of pasta. It is better to cut and
shape the tortelloni just a few at a time, keeping any rolled pasta sheets or dough under a damp tea towel to prevent them drying out.

Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to the boil and cook the tortelloni for about 2 minutes, until they have floated to the surface and are al dente. 

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter with the sage and hazelnuts in a large frying pan over a low heat.

Add 60–125ml (1/4 – 1/2 cup) of pasta water as needed and swirl the pan around to combine. I like the butter to be golden brown, rather than ‘burnt’, but if you prefer a nuttier sauce, cook the butter for a minute
or two longer. Transfer the tortelloni to the sage butter using a slotted spoon and stir gently to coat.

Serve immediately topped with parmesan.

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