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Making filled pasta from scratch is a huge pain in the ass. It’s not for people who are not that into cooking. It’s an involved, multi-stepped process. That being said, I love it, and I recommend giving it a shot. I actually recommend giving it a shot multiple times and getting very good at it because being very good at making filled pasta from scratch feels great. I would not describe myself as someone who is not that into cooking. I would say that I am very that into cooking, and I thoroughly enjoy a big project that might make me want to cry and pull my hair out. And you’re here, so I think that’s how you feel as well. All that is to say, this newsletter is long and it has a lot of steps and it has FOUR different recipes. So TLDR – idk yikes I guess.
The thing about vegan tortellini is that you have to make it from scratch because where else are you going to find it? When it comes to vegan cheese substitutes, I think it’s more important that they taste good and less important that they taste like a specific cheese. I’ve been messing around with this pasta filling recipe for years, and I know that this recipe is delicious. While my goal is not to make you think that you are eating cheese, it is to make you feel as satisfied as you would if you were eating cheese. And honey, I am reaching and exceeding that goal, mama. Cheese the house down, boots, yas gawd, clack. You can use this vegan cheese anywhere you would use ricotta. It’s great to dollop onto a pizza.
1 cup cashews
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. red pepper flake
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. MSG
4 tbsp. almond milk
Place cashews in a bowl, and soak them in hot water for at least one hour or overnight. Strain the cashews, and add them to a food processor. In a sauté pan, sauté mushrooms for 5-10 minutes over medium heat, or until they are well-browned. Add mushrooms, garlic, nutritional yeast, oregano, parsley, pepper, onion powder, red pepper, salt, and MSG to the food processor. Pulse the mixture, and slowly add in almond milk one tablespoon at a time. The mixture should be thick and creamy and should resemble natural peanut butter. Use your best judgement if you need more or less almond milk. Transfer the vegan cheese mixture to a container and place a piece of plastic wrap against the top of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day.
To keep this pasta vegan, we are using a recipe that calls for water instead of eggs. If you don’t care about being vegan, use eggs if you want. Also, if you don’t care about being vegan, use cheese for your filling. If you don’t care about being vegan, get out of here. Buy some frozen tortellini and get on with your life!
This pasta recipe is from Evan Funke, from whom I get all my pasta recipes. You can go to this link to see some clips and tips from him on how to make it. Check it out—especially if you don’t have a mixer and or pasta attachment. He shows how to make it on the countertop.
500g flour (I used all purpose, but you can use durum or 00)
25g olive oil
Pasta and filling recipes yield 2 lbs. of tortellini
Put all the ingredients plus a pinch of salt in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, and allow it to knead for around 10 minutes. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for an additional 5-10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight. When you’re ready to roll out the pasta, cut the ball into 4 equal parts, and roll each out into a sheet that is about the thickness of 4 stacked pieces of paper. I go to a 4 or 5 on my pasta roller attachment. You should be able to see your hand through the pasta. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the pasta into 2x2 squares.
Using a piping bag or a spoon, place pea sized portions of cheese filling into the middle of each square. Do about 10 tortellini at a time so the other pasta doesn’t dry out. To form the tortellini, pick up a square and fold the corners together to form a triangle. Pinch all along the edge so the two sides of the pasta come together, and no holes are left where filling can come out. Place your index finger in the middle of the triangle and fold the two bottom corners together. See Figure T. Place the finished tortellini on a sheet tray, and put the tray in the freezer for an hour. Once they are frozen, cook them or transfer them to a zip lock bag. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
VEGAN TORTELLINI SOUP
This is my vegan take on Mama Renee’s sausage tortellini soup.
1 large onion
5-10 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tbsp. red pepper flake
3 tbsp. tomato paste
4 carrots, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 28oz cans whole peeled tomato
2 qts. vegetable broth
2 handfuls kale, torn or chopped
1 lb. vegan tortellini
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, garlic, and red pepper flake over medium heat until the onions become translucent but not brown. Add the tomato paste and a pinch of salt, and stir to incorporate. Continue to stir until the tomato paste turns deep red, one or two minutes. Add the carrots, bell peppers, and tomato, and simmer until most of the water is cooked out of the tomatoes and the mixture becomes thick, ten minutes or so. Add the vegetable broth, and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat back down to medium-low, and add the kale. In a separate pot of salted water, boil the tortellini for three minutes or until they start to float. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tortellini to the soup. Add the apple cider vinegar and basil. This soup will keep in the fridge for one week. It will not freeze well.
VEGAN TORTELLINI WITH MUSHROOMS
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, halved
1 tbsp. vegan butter or olive oil
5 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp. flour
¼ cup almond milk
1 handful spinach
1 lb. vegan tortellini
In a sauté pan, sauté mushrooms over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until they are well-browned. You may have to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the mushrooms, and set aside. Add the butter or olive oil, and scrape up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the white parts of the scallion (set the green parts aside) and the garlic to the pan, and sauté until they start to become translucent. If they are browning, turn the heat down. Add in the flour, and stir until all the liquid is absorbed. Add the almond milk and stir with a whisk or rubber spatula until the roux is incorporated and the almond milk begins to thicken. Add the mushrooms back in, and turn the heat to low. In a separate pot of salted water, boil the tortellini for one minute. Then, using a slotted spoon, transfer the tortellini to the mushroom sauce. Take ¼ cup of the pasta water and add it into the mushroom sauce with the tortellini. Add the spinach and allow the sauce to simmer until the tortellini are fully cooked and the pasta water is fully absorbed. Top with the green parts of the scallions.
Phew! *wipes brow* What a doozy. Here are a couple video examples of people making tortellini. This very cute one from Pasta Grannies. Typically true tortellini are so small that you could fit 10 of them on a spoon. That is outrageous to me. Here is this video of Evan Funke making tortelloni. Which is what I’m actually making when I make tortellini as I do not have the technology or the steady hands to pull of a procedure like that. Follow my friend Nina @sincerelypasta for some friggin’ sweet pasta content. Some other pasta related Instagram accounts that I am into include @pastagrannies, @pastasocialclub, and @lucacappuccinodonofrio.
Thank you. I love you. I think I’ve said enough. Have a blessed day / week / month. Wear SPF Keep your skin moisturized. Stay hydrated.
Illustrations by @humanthomas