“Our son Charlie has a rare genetic syndrome. Despite his challenges, he has become an expert pasta maker along with a group of special needs young adults. The Tortellante Project brings together diverse ages and abilities around the table to safeguard the Modenese pasta making tradition. We have learned that the more diversity there is around the table, the more Love (and Tortellini) there will be. Cooking is an act of Love.”
Each one of us has a unique quality, a special something that we give back to our community. Some talents are more obvious than others – think of a chef or a musician who share their skills with an audience – others are hidden or harder to see, but the results can be equally incredible.
Food has always been a powerful tool for human connections. There are thousands of stories, once narrated around the fire and then passed down from generation to generation around the table. Food sparks togetherness, transformation and change.
Cooking is an act of love because it makes visible the invisible. How? The best example comes from Food for Soul’s President Lara Gilmore, who told us about the Tortellante, a project that has been focusing on creating social inclusion through food.
Founded in 2016 as an after-school workshop to allow children and teenagers with autism to find their own independence by teaching them how to make fresh pasta, the Tortellante has now become a much bigger reality. Thanks to the support of volunteers, friends and family members, this project offers young people the possibility and the responsibility to give their own contribution, make fresh pasta from scratch and sell it to the public while helping to preserve Modena’s traditions.
The Tortellante is a therapeutic workshop able to shine light and give value to everyone’s skills and abilities. The attention and care required to fold the delicate pasta and make perfect tortellini is, in itself, an act of love. By giving them the chance to develop their own independence and personality, the children and teenagers from the Tortellante have also seen their self-confidence improve as well as their team-working skills, their understanding of rules and time and their appreciation for playing an active role in society – with everything that comes with it.
To honour all this and to celebrate their common love for cooking and deep sense of responsibility, Lara and her son Charlie decided to share their recipe for tortellini in broth – made by using up the boiled meat left from the holidays. The result is a dish that in Modena stands for tradition, warmth and family. The same values that Lara and Charlie are asking us to embrace when we open our own fridge at home to recreate this recipe.
When you are done, and you are finally sitting in front of your bowl of hot hand-made tortellini in broth, you might feel like Charlie when he comes home with a big tray of tortellini: proud of his work and talent and eager to share it with those around him. Then, and only then, you will understand why cooking is an act of love.
For the dough
For the filling
First make the dough. Sift the flour onto a board and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs to the well, incorporate the flour and knead by hand for 15 minutes until it becomes smooth and homogenous. Cover with canvas rest for 30 minutes.
Next make the filling. Brown the capon, the tongue, pork cheek and the biancostato in a casserole with some extra-virgin olive oil. Cool down, then add the ham and the marrow. Grind in a meat grinder twice and add Parmigiano Reggiano. Mix it well and let it cool in the fridge.
Roll the dough. With the rolling pin, roll out the dough homogeneously and as thin as possible, around 1,5 mm. Cut the pasta sheet in 3.5cm squares and lay in the centre of each square a teaspoon of filling. Close with the other half.
Make the broth. In a big saucepan cover all the meat with ten litres of cold water. Rinse the vegetables and add them to the pot together with the aromatic herbs, pepper and salt. Add the Parmesan crust, bring everything to boil and simmer for 5 hours. Filter the broth.
Complete the dish. Cook the tortellini in the broth for a few minutes and serve.