My latest recipe comes from my hometown’s cookbook, Little Italy Festival Town and is from an Italian lady named Antonia Tomei.
I sent out a facebook blast last time I wrote about these recipes, but the only person who responded was one girl and all she did was like my post and share it. I appreciated that, but I was hoping someone would have something to say because I enjoy history and getting to know tidbits about people.
I didn’t ask anyone this time around.
I thought about asking my mother again, but I feel like she doesn’t know most of these ladies either. I think her friend’s mother has a recipe in here and I will be asking my mom about her for sure. So don’t fret!
I know nothing about Mrs. Tomei and I had never heard of tortalacchi before. I know all about tortallini, but what is tortalacchi? I found some info from the Italian chain Maggiano’s though. If you are too lazy to read it, one factoid I’ll tell you is that Tortalacchi is a Roman dish.
Half of my Italian heritage is from a town about an hour and a half south of Rome. So I pretty much consider my Italian heritage half Roman and half Sicilian.
It shocked me that this being a Roman dish, was one I hadn’t heard of. Then I realized that tortalacchi is just a giant version of tortellini. Tortellini soup was my chicken soup when I was sick as a kid.
I’m sure none of you guys care, but it made me feel better about my Italian heritage to figure this out.
Let’s move on to the recipe.
What you’ll need for the filling
- 1 can of spinach, 15 oz
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups of grated cheese
- 2 cups of cracker crumbs
- 1 pt. milk
For the dough:
- 4 cups of flour
- 4 eggs
Your first step is to make the filling and to do so you will beat two eggs in a sauce pan and then add a little bit of cheese and crackers. Let me give you a tip about the crackers. I recommend putting them in a plastic ziplock bag and then go to town on them. This can be achieved by punching it, throwing it around your home, or even sitting on it. The possibilities are endless and it can be a cathartic experience.
When these items are mixed, you will gradually add in the milk until it starts to thicken up like cottage cheese. I forgot to mention that you’ll want the stove to be under a low setting while doing this. The next step is to add the spinach and more cheese and crackers until the filling is is thick enough to not water down your dough.
Speaking of the dough, that will be the next step! For the dough, you beat four eggs and then gradually add the flour and some water. Dough moistness has to be in the middle somewhere which is why you need to be careful about the water. It can’t be too dry or too wet. In other words, you want it to be a little damp.
Once the dough is mixed, roll it out until it is thick as a dime and then cut into 2 1/2 inch strips. Place filling one inch apart on the strip and then take a bare strip and place it on top. Cut those into squares and then fold two ends together to make a hat.
Once you’ve made all of your Italian sombreros, you will allow them to dry for two hours. The cookbook says to also place them on a wooden board. I’m not sure if that is necessary, but I wouldn’t question an old Italian lady. They are kind of scary and might hex you.
When the two hours are up, you treat your homemade tortalacchis like any other pasta by boiling them in boiling water. Hopefully you know the drill on that.
Now you have some options as far as serving your sombreros. You can do what I did and pour those puppies with some marinara sauce or you can butter them up with melted butter and parm.
I love red sauces but this would be good with a butter sauce as well. So it’s really up to your personal preference. You could also get fancy and make a butternut sauce of some sort.
My experience was good except I had a whole lot of leftover filling. I ended up eating it as a spinach dip and it wasn’t too bad. If you do that though, you might as well add the dreaded artichokes to it and/or the appropriate cheese for such dip.
I did not add anything to it, but it was still good. Cream cheese and mozzarella probably would have made it better.
As far as the cooking process goes, this recipe was somewhat difficult and grueling. The filling is easy, it’s making the tortalacchi that can be time consuming and tiring.
Despite this, it is a rewarding experience and I recommend trying it for fun.