Skip to main content

How To Make Perfect Tortellini Arso

tortellini arso
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Feasting is our column dedicated to cooking, grilling, eating and discovering what’s on the menu across America and the world.

Many of our favorite dishes come from humble beginnings. Peasant foods like polenta and ratatouille were cheap and filling options when there was little or nothing else to eat. As we know, these dishes have climbed their way up through the culinary ranks and onto modern restaurant tables—not just because they’re delicious, but because they’re nostalgic as well. But there’s one peasant dish that we weren’t familiar with until we saw it on the menu at Barano, a seasonal Italian restaurant located in Brooklyn’s South Williamsburg neighborhood.

Pasta arso, or burnt flour pasta, is a traditional preparation from Italy’s Puglia region. Peasants would scour burnt wheat fields or sweep the burnt flour leftover from baking bread out of wood burning ovens. This burnt flour, or grano arso, was mixed with regular durum flour to take the supply further, and it gave bread and pasta a wonderful toasted quality in the process. Barano chef Albert di Meglio was inspired by this tradition and decided to put it on his menu in the form of Tortellini Arso—a mouthwatering preparation that includes a luscious ricotta basil filling and savory, herbal pistachio pesto.

final dish 3
Image used with permission by copyright holder

One bite and we were so hooked, we needed to learn how to make it at home. So we went into the Barano Kitchen with Chef di Meglio and documented the process so you can try it for yourself, too.

Tortellini Arso

arso-flour
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For the arso flour:

  • 125 grams durum flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread flour on a baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until dark in color and charred around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the arso pasta dough:

  • 125 grams arso flour
  • 320 grams durum flour
  • 320 grams wild hive bread flour 00
  • 25 grams salt
  • 75 grams extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 100 grams water

Combine the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Add the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl with a dough hook. Start to add the wet ingredients until they incorporate well. The dough may look crumbly—that’s okay. Roll it together in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

filling
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For the lemon basil ricotta filling:

  • 575 grams ricotta impastata
  • 1 egg
  • 40 grams basil
  • 6 grams salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 45 grams Pecorino

First, puree the eggs and basil together. Then using your hands or a spoon, combine all ingredients until they are well mixed.

pesto
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For the pistachio pesto:

  • .5 pound toasted pistachios
  • 75 grams roasted garlic
  • 21 grams blanched chervil
  • 21 grams blanched chives
  • 40 grams parsley
  • 60 grams pecorino
  • 165 grams blended oil (like Colativa)
  • 65 grams extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth.

For serving:

  • Sliced trumpet mushrooms
  • 1 small red chili, sliced
  • Parsley
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

To assemble:

Using a pasta machine, roll the dough out so it’s thinner than 1/16 of an inch. Lay the dough on a floured surface.

cutter
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Use a round cookie cutter, biscuit cutter or ring mold (about 2 inches in diameter) to cut circle shapes from the rolled out dough. Re-knead the leftover scraps, roll out another sheet and repeat.

filling-pastry-bag
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Add the lemon basil ricotta filling to a pastry bag. Place half a teaspoon of filling in the middle of a dough circle. Using your index finger—or a pastry brush if you prefer—add a thin layer of water around the outside edge of the circle.

seal
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Gently fold one side over the other to form a semicircle. Press the edges together to seal the filling inside.

corners 2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Carefully bring the corners of the semicircle together—at this point, the tortellini will look a bit like a fortune cookie.

complete-tortellini
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Tuck one corner behind the other and gently squeeze them together.

mushroom
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Add the sliced mushrooms to a pan with olive oil and sauté over medium heat until they start to soften, about 2 minutes.

everything-in-pan
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Add the tortellini, chili and a little water to the pan. Cook until the tortellini is al dente around the edges, 4-5 minutes.

pesto-bowl
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To serve, spread some of the pesto on the bottom of a bowl. Arrange the tortellini, chilies and mushrooms on top of the pesto. Serve with fresh parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

final dish 2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Photo story by Max Schwartz

Amanda Gabriele
Amanda Gabriele is a food and travel writer at The Manual and the former senior editor at Supercall. She can’t live without…
The 10 best brunch recipes for restaurant-quality meals at home
Skip long lines and getting hangry and whip up your own high-quality brunch
A person cutting up tomatoes for a healthy meal

Spring is here, so it's officially brunch season. Over the past couple of decades, brunch has become the meal of the weekend, the repast that lets you keep the party going from the night before with mimosas and Bloody Marys. The name implies that it should fall sometime between breakfast and lunch but can run anywhere from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some restaurants have given up trying to put time restrictions on their brunch menu and serve it all day. Others have dedicated their whole concept to the "in-between" meal and only serve brunch-friendly foods.

So, what is considered brunch food? Originally, restaurants had brunch to use up ingredients that weren't used over the weekend. But now, brunch is such a busy shift (if not the busiest for some), restaurants must order special items for brunch to present creative, in-demand dishes.

Read more
How to make the perfect carnitas, according to a chef
Check out these tips and tricks to make chef-worthy carnitas
Pork carnitas tacos

If you’ve ever had street tacos, whether from an actual street vendor or an upscale restaurant, you’ve likely had carnitas — whether you knew it or not. Carnitas grew in popularity through Mexican street tacos, but people use it in various dishes, from nachos to chimichangas. Carnitas are most commonly known to be pork, but it can really be any sort of meat cooked in its own fat (confit). The word carnitas in Spanish translates to "little meats."

You can learn how to make carnitas at home -- it isn't difficult. However, it’s not just a matter of throwing a chunk of pork in a pot, and then it turns into delicious carnitas. There are some crucial steps to cooking the perfect batch of carnitas. That’s why we reached out to an expert in Mexican cuisine.

Read more
What is caviar? A seafood expert breaks down all the details
John McDonald of Mercer Street Hospitality and Hancock St. is here to guide us
The caviar at Hancock St. with potato chips and champagne

 

What is caviar? Caviar, which is deemed to be the pinnacle of luxury by many, has been a dining delicacy since the times of ancient Greece. Derived from the Persian word chav-jar, which means "cake of strength," this black gold was integrated into modern-day popularity by Russian royalty.

Read more