Wendy Chao's Pumpkin Tortellini

with pumpkin-sage-alfredo sauce

An episode of Iron Chef inspired me to make pumpkin tortellini, so I modified and compiled several pumpkin pasta and alfredo recipes I found online. Although this was indeed a highly tasty dish, I don't recommend making it completely from scratch - it was very labor-intensive, and took well over four hours. However, I will provide the complete* protocol, with time-saving shortcuts throughout. I used canned pumpkin for the pasta to give it more color. For the sauce, I used frozen winter squash (more mild tasting) with some fresh pumpkin. For the filling, I used all three.

*Volumes and cooking times are approximate; this ain't analytical chemistry, after all. Serves many.


4 cups all-purpose flour (approximate). You'll need more to roll out the dough, or if it's too sticky.

1 cup canned pumpkin - imparts a deeper shade of pumpkin than fresh pumpkin

1 t salt

2 large eggs

2 T olive oil

mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then mix everything together and knead until your arms ache. Add more flour if too sticky; add small volumes of water if too dry. Rest for 30 minutes (both yourself and the dough). Roll out the dough and cut into circles, or cut small pieces of dough and hand roll each individually (the Chinese way - who, speaking of which, invented ravioli and tortellini and pasta in general - so don't let me hear you call gyoza "Peking Ravioli" or I will whack you with my Chinese rolling stick)

- or -

Use fresh gyoza wrappers (wonton wrappers that are round and thicker) instead of torturing yourself making homemade pasta dough. However, my mom makes hand-rolled gyoza wrappers all the time - she does not cut corners when it comes to cooking.

All volumes approximate and variable - remember, NOT analytical chemistry.

2 leeks, white/light green parts only, chopped - about 1 cup??

2-4 T olive oil - the more the merrier! If the goal is good taste, make it as fattening as possible.

1-2 cups white wine. All the alcohol gets burned off - so even if you don't drink, using wine when cooking is not only possible, it is ESSENTIAL (quote from Dr. Strangechao). As always with wine, the more the merrier.

{insert your favorite alfredo sauce recipe here, or use 2 10-oz jars of commercially made sauce}

1 package frozen winter squash (10 oz?)

canned or fresh pumpkin, about 1/2 - 1 cup

1 T ground sage

white pepper and salt to taste

Sautee leeks in olive oil until soft. Pour in wine and cook until reduced 50% in volume. Add alfredo sauce, squash, pumpkin, sage, salt, pepper, and cook until bubbly (stir often so it doesn't burn).


When I made this I ended up with three times as much fillling as I could use, so I tried to scale it down. Use three standard cheeses - ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella, plus n other kinds of cheese (I also used Monterey Jack, white cheddar, and Romano cheese). The quantities are flexible. Do not use reduced-fat or part-skim cheeses here; doing so will compromise the taste and reduce chances of winning a cooking contest. I should warn you now that you should not eat this tortellini unless you A) have a prescription for Lipitor, B) if you have completed a marathon or century or some other grueling event on the same day, or C) have combined HDL/LDL levels no greater than 3.5, or D) all of the above. If not, you might want to use part-skim cheeses.

1 cup ricotta cheese

1-2 cups shredded cheese (e.g. mozzarella, monterey jack)

1 cup grated parmesan (or a 1:1 parmesan:romano blend)

1/2 or more pumpkin or squash

1 egg (optional if you're worried about cholesterol, which you obviously aren't if you've made it this far)

salt, pepper, and other herbs to taste (taste before you add egg so you won't get salmonella poisoning - but you're going to have a heart attack if you eat this anyway, so why not?)

Mix all ingredients together, and refrigerate until you are ready to wrap.

To make the tortellini:

Put some filling in a wrapper. The amount will depend on how big your wrappers are - don't use too much. Seal well - use water to seal pre-made gyoza wrappers, and pinch fresh pasta dough well. Repeat.

Cook in a large volume of boiling water with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil until the tortellinis float. Drain; put on a plate to cool (don't let them pile up or they will stick together - my mom taught me this). If not eating immediately, coat well with olive oil - this not only prevents sticking, but the added fat enhances the taste. To serve, top with sauce, chopped green onions, and freshly ground black pepper.