Caramelised Onion Tortellini Recipe, A Rich Italian Pasta Dish

In the culinary tapestry of Italy, few dishes evoke a sense of comfort and refinement quite like tortellini. These delicate pockets of pasta, lovingly shaped and filled with a myriad of savoury delights, have been enchanting taste buds for centuries. To truly understand the magic of tortellini it's necessary to go back and look at how this timeless pasta became a delightful marriage of caramelised onions and tortellini.

Originating in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy, tortellini has a rich and intriguing history that dates back centuries. The origins of this pasta are shrouded in folklore and legend, as the exact details of its creation remain elusive. One popular tale claims that tortellini was inspired by the belly button of the Roman goddess Venus. According to the story, a humble innkeeper, captivated by the sight of Venus bathing, was inspired to create pasta in her image. Thus, the intricate shape of tortellini, reminiscent of a navel, was born.

Beyond the mythical origin story, tortellini has become an integral part of Italian culinary culture. It is believed to have gained popularity during the Renaissance, particularly in the city of Bologna, which is often referred to as the gastronomic capital of Italy. Over the centuries, the tortellini recipe has been lovingly passed down from generation to generation, with each family adding their own unique touch.

Caramelised onion tortellini is a testament to the timeless allure of Italian cuisine. It pays homage to the ancient art of pasta-making while incorporating contemporary flavours that captivate the modern palate. So, whether you're seeking a comforting meal or an indulgent culinary adventure, this dish promises to transport you to the heart of Italy, where tradition and innovation come together to create magic on the plate.


For the Filling:

  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pasta Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Water (as needed)

For the Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)


  • Start by preparing the caramelised onion filling. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and sauté for about 10 minutes until they begin to soften.
  • Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 30-40 minutes or until the onions turn a deep golden brown. Be patient during this process to ensure proper caramelisation. Set aside to cool.
  • In a bowl, combine the cooled caramelised onions, ricotta cheese, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Now, let's prepare the pasta dough. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Using a fork, gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs until a dough begins to form.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough feels too dry, add a little water, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • After the dough has rested, roll it out into a thin sheet using a rolling pin or a pasta machine. The sheet should be thin enough to be translucent but still sturdy.
  • Cut the rolled-out pasta sheet into small circles, approximately 2.5 inches in diameter. You can use a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass to achieve the desired shape.
  • Take each circle of pasta and place a small spoonful of the caramelised onion and ricotta filling in the centre. Fold the circle in half, enclosing the filling, and press the edges firmly together to seal. Bring the two pointed ends together and pinch them gently to create the tortellini shape. Repeat this process until all the dough and filling are used.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully drop the tortellini into the boiling water and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until they float to the surface. Remove the cooked tortellini with a slotted spoon and set them aside.
  • In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it turns a golden brown colour. Remove from heat.
  • Serve the caramelised onion tortellini in shallow bowls. Drizzle the brown butter sauce generously over the tortellini and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley for garnish.