When you can’t do Legos, make tortellini

This homemade pasta may be time intensive, but produces a delcious, cheesy meal

When my husband was a small boy, he could sit for many hours on the floor with his Legos. He would make elaborate structures and spread them out across the room.

Over the course of his childhood, he amassed an impressive collection that he treasured until the interests of adolescence pushed them aside. His mother helped him consolidate his beloved toys into a few large tubs and stored them in the shed for a far-off future day when he might take them out again and relive his childhood with his own children.

For over 20 years those tiny plastic blocks sat in the shed, slowly collecting errant leaves and spruce needles, occasionally occupying the little hands of elder cousins in brief trips to the shed to locate ice skates or ski poles, just waiting for the day our little one was ready for them.

We decided that day had come this past weekend. It took hours to remove the dirt and debris from the mountain of colorful pieces, each parent taking turns knelt by the side of the bathtub with our arms deep in filthy water, until the entire collection was finally sanitized and drying on towels spread out on our living room floor.

For two days my son and husband have been chatting and tinkering in the spare room (for now renamed the Lego room) while the pile of their creations grows bigger and more complex — a childhood dream come to joyous fruition and new childhood memories in the making.

If I’m being honest, I don’t enjoy Legos. I find them tedious and finicky and I just don’t have the skills to execute my creative plans, which frustrates me to no end.

However, I’m very happy to do tedious work in the kitchen with dough that flexes and stretches and accommodates my clumsiness. While the boys were building their trains and submarines, I made some tortellini with a cheesy mushroom and prosciutto filling.

Mushroom and Prosciutto Tortellini


For the dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

3 eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon water (if necessary)

For the filling

½ pound cremini mushrooms

4 ounces prosciutto

7 ounces ricotta cheese

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

2 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste


Make the pasta first.

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, then make a well in the center.

Crack the eggs directly into the flour, pour in the olive oil, then whisk the eggs and oil together, slowly pulling flour in as you go.

Keep mixing until all the flour has been incorporated. Add a splash of water if the dough is too try.

Knead until the dough is a smooth ball, then remove from the bowl and knead on the counter for 5 minutes.

Wrap tightly in plastic and let rest on the counter for at least 1 hour.

Finely chop the mushrooms and cook in the butter over medium heat until the mushrooms are dry and browned.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add in the prosciutto. Cook until crispy then allow to cool to room temperature.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the ricotta and fresh chopped thyme, taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Roll small portions of pasta dough at a time until the sheet is very thin, almost see-through.

Use a small round cutter (no more than 2 inches) to cut out rounds.

Fill each round with about ½ teaspoon of filling, wet one side of the round with a finger dipped in water, then fold the dough over the filling and pinch closed.

Wrap the two edges around your finger and press to close.

Fold the top edge of the dough back and slip off your finger.

Continue until all the dough or filling has been used.

Freeze flat on a tray and store frozen for up to three months.

Cook in hot broth or water until they float.