Homemade Ricotta Tortellini with Marinara Recipe

An easy homemade pasta that even you can make.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Servings: 4
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


for the marinara:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
¼ cup|60 ml dry white wine
1 (28-ounce|794-gram) can San Marzano tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2-3 fresh basil leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the black olive breadcrumbs:
1 cup pitted black olives, such as Kalamata or Nicoise
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 (½-inch-thick) slices bakery white bread, crusts removed and bread cubed (or pulsed in a food
1 tablespoon|12 ml extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


for the ricotta filling:
16 ounces|450 grams ricotta cheese
¼ cup|25 grams grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
kosher salt and white pepper, to taste

for the pasta dough:
2 cups|300 grams “00” flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
4 large eggs yolks
⅓ cup semolina flour

to serve:
fresh basil leaves
fresh parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil


  1. Make the marinara: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just tender but not colored, about 8 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for a few minutes until it's reduced by about half. Add the tomatoes with their juices and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stir in basil, and season with a few grinds of pepper and additional salt and red pepper flakes if needed.
  2. Make the black olive breadcrumbs: Heat the oven to 325°F. Combine 1 cup pitted black olives, such as Kalamata or Nicoise, and ¼ cup|60 ml extra-virgin olive oil in a food processor or blender. Process on high until puréed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the bread cubes, 2 tablespoons of the black olive paste, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper and toss to coat. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 7 to 9 minutes, until crisp. Let the croutons cool completely, then purée in a food processor to form crumbs. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Make the ricotta filling: Mix ricotta, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well to incorporate, then refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Make the pasta: Combine flour and salt in a small mound on a clean work surface. Use your fist and a circular motion to transform the mound into a wide well. Crack the whole eggs into the center of the well and add the yolks. Beat the eggs with a fork just as you would to make scrambled eggs. Very gradually, incorporate some of the flour into the eggs by bringing in a little at a time from the perimeter of the well. Be careful not to break through the wall of the well or the egg will race out all over the counter -- a total bummer. When the dough becomes too stiff to mix with a fork, use your fingers to work the eggs and flour together, only adding enough of the flour to make a cohesive ball of dough. You may not need to use all of the flour, and the actual amount you use will vary every time you make fresh pasta depending on your eggs, flour, and even the weather. To see if you have added enough flour, press a clean, dry finger deep into the dough. If nothing sticks to your finger, your dough is in good shape. If not, work a little more flour now or, if it feels close, as you knead the dough.
  6. Move the dough over to one side and scrape your work area clean of any excess flour, especially any hardened bits, and then clean your hands as well. Lightly re-flour the surface and knead the dough by pushing it away from you with the heel of your hand, folding it over, giving it a quarter turn, and pushing it away again. Continue kneading, adding a sprinkling of flour if the dough feels sticky, until it feels as soft and supple as your ear lobe; this can take 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour, cover it with a damp towel, and let it rest for a half hour before rolling it.
  7. To thin the dough, set your pasta machine to its widest setting. Cut the dough in half and keep the rest wrapped while you work (some recipes that call for fresh pasta only need a half batch of dough). Roll the dough lightly in flour and then flatten it into a rectangle that is roughly the width of your pasta machine. Run the dough through the machine at this setting twice to give the dough a final kneading.
  8. Set the machine to its next thinnest setting and run the dough through. Continue running the dough through the machine's settings so that the dough gets progressively thinner each time; you don't have to hit every setting on the dial as is so often insisted, but do thin the dough gradually. If you run the dough through the machine and it shreds or tears or is too thin, simply fold it over and run it through a wider setting to smooth it out. If your dough sticks, you can flour it well without worry; the dough will not incorporate too much flour at this point.
  9. As the length of the dough increases, you may find it a little unwieldy. With an electric (as opposed to hand cranked) pasta machine, you can stand pretty far away and gather the dough as it comes out of the machine, gently folding it over onto itself, so it looks like ribbon candy. Or you can cut long shorter lengths with a sharp knife and run each piece through the setting. Do whatever works best for you. For most pastas, you want to roll the dough until it's very thin like a silk scarf; if you hold it up to the light you can see your hand through it. On some pasta machines this will mean the thinnest setting; on others it may be the second thinnest. Store the pasta sheets on a sheet tray sprinkled with semolina flour and let dry for an hour or so before cutting into shapes.
  10. Make the tortellini: Using a sharp knife or ravioli cutter, cut pasta sheets into 1 ½ to 2-inch squares. Place a small amount of ricotta filling (about a teaspoon) into the middle of each square. I like to put the filling in a pastry bag and pipe it directly onto the pasta squares, but scooping it directly from the mixing bowl with a small spoon works just fine.
  11. Fold the dough in half to form a triangle over the filling and gently press the dough around the ball of filling to get all of the air out. Place the handle of a wooden spoon or your pinkie finger in the center of the triangle, then draw the two bottom corners of dough together around it to form a rounded shape. Dust the tortellini with semolina flour.
  12. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook until they float, 1 to 2 minutes. With a Chinese skimmer or other slotted spoon, transfer the tortellini to the spicy tomato sauce. Divide among six serving bowls and garnish with black olive crumbs and basil. Using a peeler, peel some parmesan over the top and grate some fresh black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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