Like a remake of a classic movie or TV show, chefs like to put their own spins on beloved dishes. That impulse can translate into babka that’s more reminiscent of pizza than rugelach, duck breast that’s speckled with pastrami spices instead of beef, and butter mochi that might just remind you of a birthday cake.
It also means that something as unwavering as tortellini en brodo — a traditional soup cherished throughout Italy — can get a fresh new update in the hands of a curious chef. Classic tortellini en brodo, meaning “in broth,” has been a comfort for New York chef Tyler Heckman when temperatures outside range between freezing and cold-for-May. Along with his kitchen team at Greenwich Village restaurant Villanelle, Heckman used the tortellini en brodo framework to make something unique while keeping it simple and approachable.
His recipe incorporates dashi instead of a classic brodo. Dashi is used widely in Japanese cuisine, and refers to a number of broths that are made from steeping ingredients in cold or warm water. Those ingredients can include kombu, bonito flakes, dried shiitake mushrooms, and dried sardines. Heckman says he uses a lot of dashi in his cooking at Villanelle; for this particular recipe, he used dried shiitakes for the broth, along with some Parmesan rind. As for the pasta shape, he and his team decided to go with capatelli, which is ever so slightly different from tortellini. You can try it for yourself with the recipe below.
Tortellini en Brodo Recipe
Adapted from chef Tyler Heckman - Villanelle
For the pasta dough:
145 grams 00 flour
Pinch of salt
75 grams egg yolk (approximately 4 large yolks)
25 grams water
For the Parmesan rind dashi:
1000 grams cold water
20 grams dried shiitake mushrooms
30 grams kombu
30 grams shaved katsuobushi
125 grams Parmesan rind
Salt, to taste
Soy sauce, to taste
For the tortellini filling:
25 grams rehydrated shiitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 whole egg
1 pound ricotta cheese, drained in a cheesecloth-lined colander for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Maitake, white button or any mushroom of your choice
First, make the pasta dough:
Step 1: Begin by mixing the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on speed 2. Add the egg yolks and water. Gradually increase the speed to 4. Once everything is incorporated, switch to a dough hook and keep kneading at speed 4 until the dough is smooth and springy; since this is a very stiff dough, this may take up to 5 minutes.
Step 2: Transfer the dough to a clean countertop, making sure to scrape up any pieces left behind in the bowl. Knead the dough by hand for a few minutes. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic, then rest the dough at room temperature for a minimum of 15 minutes. The dough can be made ahead of time, and kept in the refrigerator for 2 days before shaping.
Next, make the Parmesan rind dashi:
Step 1: Combine the cold water, dried shiitake mushrooms, and kombu in a pot and heat over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, making sure that the mushrooms and kombu are submerged and hydrated. Turn off the heat and add the shaved katsuobushi and the Parmesan rinds to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and let the broth steep for 20 minutes.
Step 2: Strain the steeped broth through a chinois or a colander lined with cheesecloth into a shallow container. Save the hydrated shiitake mushrooms for the filling in the next step. Season the broth with salt and soy sauce to taste.
Make the tortellini filling:
Step 1: Place 25 grams of the reserved shiitake mushrooms in a blender and combine them with garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice, starting at a low speed and increasing gradually to high so that the mushrooms are finely pureed. With the blender on medium speed, add the egg and half of the ricotta cheese. Once the ingredients are well incorporated, add the rest of the ricotta and puree on high speed until smooth. Be careful not to overwork the filling as it will become runny. Transfer the filling into a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble the pasta:
Step 1: Roll out the pasta dough into sheets then divide into quarters. (If you’re rolling the dough manually, then roll until it’s thin and translucent.) Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others covered with plastic or a wet towel. Run the dough through a pasta roller on progressively thinner settings until you have a sheet of paper-thin pasta. (Setting #6 if you are using a KitchenAid).
Step 2: Cut the sheet into rounds using a 21/2 - 2 ¾-inch round cutter, spacing the rounds as close together as possible. Gather the scraps into a ball and reserve them with the remaining pieces of dough to re-roll later.
Step 3: Fill a small bowl with water and set it aside. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the middle of each round, being careful not to overfill them. Dip your finger in the bowl of water and run it along the edge of the round to moisten. Fold the dough over to form a half-moon and press around the edges to seal the filling and expel any air pockets. Then join the two corners to form a rounded bonnet shape. Lightly toss with flour, then set aside on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough, re-rolling the scraps. Letting the tortellini air out for about 20 to 30 minutes will help them to harden a little bit before cooking.
Cook and assemble the dish:
Step 1: Heat the Parmesan dashi broth in a pot until it is hot. On a separate burner, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the tortellini in batches so they don’t stick together and cook for about 1 minute — you want them to be al dente, but just warm in the middle. Strain the tortellini and transfer to a warm serving bowl. Cover with the dashi broth and garnish with the raw or cooked mushrooms of your choice. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.