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Tortelli cremaschi
CoursePrimo (Italian pasta course)
Place of originItaly
Region or stateLombardy
InventedYears of the Republic of Venice

Tortelli cremaschi (dialect of Crema: turtèi cremasch) represents the main dish of the local Cremasque culinary tradition. While tortelli typically have a savoury filling, that of tortelli cremaschi is sweet and cannot be found elsewhere in Italy.[1]


The tortelli cremaschi may have been born during the long Republic of Venice. In support of this theory there are at least two factors: the first is that nowadays it's a typical dish known only in the city of Crema, actually within the borders of the ancient territory of Crema which belonged to Venice. The second one due to the ingredients of the filling: amaretti biscuits, spices, candied fruit and raisins are all goods which came from the trades with the Orient, which were under the monopoly of the Venetians for centuries.

The modern recipe dates from the end of the 19th century.


The tortelli represent, in Crema, the most important dish of a celebration; they are usually prepared for festivals, weddings or other family events; however they aren't Christmas or Easter food and virtually every village and every family has its own recipe, slightly different from the next.


Tortelli cremaschi, uncooked

It appears that the shape of the tortelli is unique in Italian gastronomy: a small amount of filling is placed in the middle of a small circle of dough, which is then folded over into a half-moon, the edges superimposed by hand and pinched together to create five crests. In some villages, people make them in a square and use a fork to press them closed, but this does not conform to the tradition. The cremaschi of ancient times said that the use of the fork was used by countrymen to save money, in that there would have been no waste of dough.


The tortelli have a balance of flavors, with a sweet and spicy filling, while traditional pasta and condiments are savory, gelatinous and fatty. The 'secret' is due to the perfect balance between the quantity of the filling and the dough so as to maintain the harmony; they must be made with pasta and filling balanced in the correct proportions. They have to be formed in rather thick envelopes of pasta and cooked for a relatively long time, from 20 to 40 minutes. Egg pasta is not suitable here because, in cooking, it tends to lose the filling.


To prepare the dough, one adds all the flour to lightly salted hot water and kneads until an elastic ball is formed; at the end of the kneading the colour should be a light grey. If desired one could use a pasta maker adding only one egg for each kilo of flour, and a spoonful of oil to give more elasticity to the mixture. Any recipe that uses more than one egg per kilo of flour is not considered traditional and does not work well.


Some people add meat or broth, but such don't belong to the traditional recipe.

To prepare the filling, pour it in a mixing bowl and then add the crumbed amaretti biscuits, the softened and dried raisin, the crumbled Mostaccino biscuit, the grated mint candies, grated citrus peel, grated cheese, the egg yolk, the lemon skin, a bit of breadcrumbs, the Marsala and if necessary a bit of broth to make the mixture softer. Let it stand in the fridge for an entire day. The following day prepare the dough and let it rest in a wrapped in a cloth for about an hour; stretch it out to create circles, parcel out the individual filling portions and fold them into half moon shaped pockets of dough, minding to press the edges three times. Cook in salted boiling water stirring gently occasionally, to prevent the tortelli from sticking together.


Layer the tortelli in a wide soup tureen, wetting them with the condiment and adding the grated Grana Padano cheese; let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

See also


  1. ^ Cosmo, Serena (2017-10-24). The Ultimate Pasta and Noodle Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Classic Italian and International Recipes. Simon and Schuster. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-60433-733-4.