Il Ceppo Gastronamia e Enoteca - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio ImagesNow that the cat is out of the bag — uncovering that secret foodie destination where my short-order cookin’ alter ego, Lazy Person (LP), has been buying out-of-this-world delicacies for “lab testing” in our kitchen — we can openly plate our first dish from ingredients purchased at il Ceppo (the tree stump), the popular gastronomia shop along the Corso Palladio here in Vicenza.

Our lead-off dish is a good one, too: tortelloni (larger versions of tortellini), a navel-shaped egg-and-flour pasta, stuffed with a filling of zucca (pumpkin) and crushed Amaretti di Saronno cookies. It’s a primo piatto (first course) with a hint of dolce (dessert).

Lucrezia Borgia portrait by Bartolomeo VenetoDid you say NAVEL? Yes, navel-like in shape.

Here’s the historical footnote.

One of many legends, and the one I like best, has it that the tortellini was supposedly created by an inn keeper-cook in Castelfranco Emilia, in the province of Modena over in Italy’s Lombardia region, back in the late 15th-early 16th century when Lucrezia Borgia — the daughter of Pope Alexander VI — spent a night there.

The inn keeper, captivated by Lucrezia’s beauty, just had to get a better look at her. Peeking through the keyhole of her room, the “peeping Tom” hotelier caught a glimpse of her navel in the candlelight. What a navel it must’ve been, because it sent him into ecstasy and he immediately raced downstairs to the kitchen and began creating a pasta that resembled the femme fatal’s umbilicus.

Don’t you just love Italian folklore?

Now, If you’ll grab an apron, let’s join LP in the “lab” and get this “House of Borgia” lookalike underway. We’ll have it plated in less than 10 min.

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Tortelloni ripieni con Zucca e Amaretti

Step-1: Fill a medium-size pot with water, cover, fire the heat to HIGH and bring to a boil

Step-2: Rinse the fresh sage, dry with paper towel then separate the leaves from the stems

Sage and Butter in the Skillet | ©Tom Palladio Images

Step-3: In a small skillet, fire the heat to MEDIUM, add the butter, sage leaves and pinch of salt. Cook for 1-2 min. allowing the butter to liquify and absorb the aroma of the slightly crisp sage. Remove from heat, let it rest and wait for Step-6.

Tortelloni ripieni con Zucca e Amaretti | ©Tom Palladio Images  Tortelloni stuffed with Pumpkin and Amaretti | ©Tom Palladio Images

Step-4: Pasta water is now boiling. Uncover, add the sea salt and, one-by-one, drop in the tortelloni. Give it a good stir and continue the boil for 5 min.

Step-5: Remove pot from heat and drain the pasta.

Add Tortelloni to the Sage Butter in the Skillet | ©Tom Palladio Images

Step-6: Add the tortelloni to the butter — sans the sage leaves — fire the heat to MEDIUM, add in 3/4 of the grated cheese and sauté for 30-45 sec.

Plated Tortelloni ripieni con Zucca e Amaretti | ©Tom Palladio Images

Step-7: Plate the tortelloni, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top, add some freshly ground pepper and serve.

Step-8: BUON APETITO!

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Recommended Wine PairingAlto Adige Müller Thurgau 2012 DOC Kellerei St. Michael, Appiano/Eppan (BZ), Italy — This wine pairing recommendation comes from Maria-Giovanna, one of the two certified sommelier on staff at Gastronomia il Ceppo. And, she was spot-on as this bottle married perfectly with the tortelloni stuffed with pumpkin and amaretti.

Alto Adige Müller Thurgau 2012 - St. Michael Winery - Appiano, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

St. Michael’s Winery, located along the prestigious Weinstraße (Wine Road) in the town of Appiano/Eppan in Italy’s northernmost region of the Trentino Alto Adige/South Tyrol, was selected “Winery of the Year for 2000” by the Italian wine publication I Vini d’Italia. And, for good reason. This winery produces and markets three distinct lines — Sanct Valentin, Cru and Classic — totaling 34 different blends and varietals. It is within the Classic line that we uncork our Alto Adige Müller Thurgau 2012 DOC.

Alto Adige Müller Thurgau 2012 DOC - St. Michael's Winery - Appiano/Eppan, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

Crystal-clear with a deep, green-yellow color, this wine has a unique aromatic fullness. The bouquet is delicate hay and mild nutmeg fragrances. Charming on the palate, this varietal is uncomplicated in its simple style.

Alto Adige Müller Thurgau 2012 DOC - St. Michael's Winery - Appiano/Eppan, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images  Alto Adige Müller Thurgau 2012 DOC and stuffed pasta dish | ©Tom Palladio Images

Fresh tasting and easy to drink, Alto Adige Müller Thurgau 2012 DOC pairs well with a variety of dishes, especially freshwater fish.

Best served chilled between 8-10 °C.

SALUTE!

©The Palladian Traveler | ©Tom Palladio Images

The Palladian Traveler's Borsalino over cobblestone | ©Tom Palladio Images

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Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 49 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches along the cobblestone via TravelingBoy.com.

16 comments

  1. Love pasta, love Italian food, and love wine (and Italian ones are quite wonderful), so I really enjoyed this post, although thankfully I’m still full from breakfast (only mid-morning here.) I do love the stories that go with the food and this is an especially enjoyable one. What a belly button it must have been!!

    Friends of ours, who upped our wine appreciation a million levels, suggested that if in doubt about which Italian wine to buy, check that back to see if it were imported by Leonardo Locascio, in which case it would be good. They were right and although we drink many wines he had nothing to do with, this formula worked more than well.

    janet

    1. Janet — Your friends are right, and your tastebuds are proof. Sig. LoCascio, Chairman of Winebow, one of the foremost importers of Italian wine to the U-S-of-A. Don’t ignore Leonardo’s name on the bottle as the importer, but do take my suggestions to heart. If I drink ’em, I love ’em.

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