academia barilla  December 2006

More Christmas Eve recipes from Parma

This morning I shared with you a traditional Christmas recipe but, since [...]

This morning I shared with you a traditional Christmas recipe but, since we are creating so many menus for the Holiday celebrations, it has been very hard to put up just one – so I decided to publish a second Christmas Eve recipe!This is another traditional Christmas Eve recipe from Parma, Tortelli di Mele per la Vigilia (Christmas Eve’s Apple Tortelli). This recipe is a modern version of the centuries-old countryside tradition in the Parma area, where each family prepares (the tradition is still alive nowadays) a huge terracotta casserole of Apple tortelli, that is literally swimming in heavy cream.

To exchange wishes with their families and neighbors, the celebrants travel on Christmas Eve from family to family, keeping the tortelli warm in a bagnomaria (bain-marie). By the end of Christmas Eve, all the families have exchanged their warm tortelli with the others’ in a sharing and friendly atmosphere.

We made some changes to the original recipe to make it more aligned with our health standards in food and cuisine, but we kept the artisan spirit and the original ingredients to give our light cream Apple Tortelli a traditional flavor.

Academia Barilla Wine Jelly Beef TenderloinAre you ready?

Let’s examine the ingredients for this popular gourmet Christmas Eve dish from Parma, Italy.


Serves 8 to 10


For the stuffing:
- 1 pound quince or sweet apples
- 8 ounces all-purposes potatoes
- Coarse-grained salt
- 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (as I already said, try to get the original ones mported from Italy, which are tastier)
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 5 finely chopped walnuts (shelled but not blanched)
- 2 tablespoon of dry Marsala
- 1 cleaned small yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (original Italian, of course)
- 4 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs, lightly toasted
- A hint of freshly grated nutmeg

For the pasta:
- 4 cups of unbleached, not enriched all-purpose flour
- 4 extra-large eggs (or 5 medium ones)
- 4 extra-large egg yolks (or 5 from smaller eggs)
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- A pinch of salt (optional)

For the sauce:
- 8 ounces (16 tablespoons) of unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 10 finely chopped walnuts (shelled but not blanched)

To cook the pasta:
- Coarse-grained salt

Let’s now move into the kitchen for the preparation and cooking.

Prepare the stuffing. Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.

Peel the apples, cut them into quarters and remove the cores. Put the apples in a baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 35 minutes or until they are soft. Peel the potatoes and immediately rice them with a potato ricer fitted with the disk with smaller holes. Rice also the cooled fruit and put all together in a glass bowl.

Soak the mushrooms in a bowl for about 3o minutes and drain them carefully as explained earlier on the other recipe. Finely chop the drained mushrooms on a cutting board along with the onion.

Heat the oil on medium heat in a small casserole. When the oil is warm, add the mix of mushrooms and onions, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 3-4 minutes, then add the chopped walnuts and Marsala.

Let the Marsala evaporate for two minutes, then add the mix of riced potatoes and apple to the casserole. Taste for salt and pepper and mix well with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes approx. to consolidate all ingredients.

Transfer the entire content of the casserole in a glass bowl and let it rest until cold, for at least 30 minutes, after which you can add the Parmigiano and bread crumbs, mixing well to amalgamate. Taste for salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Prepare the pasta with the ingredients and quantities listed above, and make tortelli filling one of them with a tablespoon of the stuffing we prepared earlier.

I assume you know how to make tortelli, one of the most popular types of pasta, typical from the area around Parma in Emilia-Romagna. I promise that I will cover the tortelli pretty soon, with a boot camp on pasta-making, and dozens of traditional Italian recipes.

Now, back to our Apple Tortelli preparation, we are almost done and we are almost late for the Christmas Eve dinner.

Once the tortelli are all filled, bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over medium heat, and move on to prepare the sauce.

Melt the butter in a skillet by placing it over the pot of boiling water, not on the flame. When the butter is completely melted, move the skillet from the pot to a very low flame.

Cook the tortelli in the simmering water for about 2 minutes, or a little longer if the pasta is dry. With a strainer or a skimmer, transfer the tortelli from the boiling water onto a clean towel first, to drain completely, then immediately to the skillet with the melted butter.

Add the heavy cream to the skillet, and shake the skillet constantly to make sure the sauce covers the tortelli evenly Taste for salt and pepper and sprinkle the chopped walnuts over. Simmer for one more minute, and then transfer it to a large warm serving platter.

Serving suggestions: you don’t have to go home to home with a huge terracotta pot to enjoy your Christmas Eve’s Apple Tortelli. Just invite your gourmet friends home for Christmas Eve and show off traditional dishes from Italy!

Real serving suggestions: you can lay the tortelli on a flat plate, or pile the tortelli one on top of each other in a Italian-style soup bowl.

Do not eat tortelli one by one, but rather cut through the layers of tortelli with a fork, the way you eat lasagna. Each serving should contain a little bit of sauce as well. Do not add extra Parmigiano.

Merry Christmas again!

PS: if you are looking for traditional recipes from Parma you will find great inspiration in the book published by award winning Italian Chef Giuliano Bugialli, and published by Academia Barilla, available at the Academia Barilla online bookstore.

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