Cook tortilli di erbette from Elizabeth David on Vegetables, live it with stylish Habitat dinnerware.
‘These “tortelli”, a kind of ravioli, are one of the summer specialities of the province of Parma, where a number of original dishes are to be found. The filling is made with the green leaves of young beets, spinach beet, or chard. For the pasta, for six people, pour 250g / 1/2 lb of flour in a mound on to a pastry board. Make a hole in the centre and into it break 3 or 4 eggs and a teaspoon of salt. Fold the flour over the eggs (without the addition of water) and knead until you have a soft dough. Divide this into 2 or 4 pieces. Roll each piece out, and stretch it by putting it through a pasta machine, reducing the thickness each time, until it is very thin and you can pick it up like a piece of fine material. If you don’t have a pasta machine, roll the pasta out and wrap it round the rolling-pin, Roll again and wrap round the rolling pin again, stretching it a little more each time. Sprinkle flour over it each time so that it doesn’t stick.
For the filling, puree 175g / 6oz of cooked spinach, thoroughly drained, whiz in a food processor or put through a food mill, and mix it with the same quantity of cream cheese (ricotta as used in Parma), 30g / 1oz of grated Parmesan, salt, pepper, a liberal grating of nutmeg, and 2 eggs.
Cut the prepared pasta into pieces about 5 x 6cm / 2 x 2 ½ in, if possible with a cutter which has scalloped edges. On to half the squares put small spoonfuls of the spinach mixture. Cover them with the other squares and press down the edges, moistening them a little so that they are well closed. Cook them in plenty of boiling salted water for 4 or 5 minutes, until they rise to the top. Serve them in a heated dish with melted butter and plenty of grated Parmesan poured over. Enough for six.’
Elizabeth David on Vegetables is a compilation of the late culinary legend’s recipes, published in 2013 to mark the centenary year of her birth. The intelligent, passionate and unpretentious books she wrote between the 50s and the 80s introduced a new way of cooking to the UK and were a huge influence on the Habitat lifestyle.
They were always more than lists of ingredients, though, as this volume’s editor, Jill Norman, says: ‘Elizabeth’s writing shows a self-effacing authority and respect for authenticity and tradition; food is put into context, and she quotes widely from literature, history and travel writing. Her style is elegant, she writes with clarity and imaginative boldness, with fire and bite and a caustic wit when the topic demands. She draws the reader in, making her or him want to cook, even if the instructions are sometimes sketchy. She expects the reader to think for themselves and not rely blindly on a recipe book.’
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