SCRIGNO DI VENERE (VENUS’s treasure chest)

This dish might not be one of Italy’s oldest, but sure is one of Italy’s favorites. It was born in 1968 in a restaurant in Bologna: Cantunzein.

Original Newspaper Article and Recipe from 1968


Originally the crunchy dough was made of the same egg noodle dough and filled with Tagliatelle, then topped with  Tortellini which are said to be exactly the same size and shape of Venus’s belly button. Eventually, like all recipes, it evolved. Now it is more popular with a Tortellini filling that Tagliatelle (Fettuccine).  Back then, Evio Battellani, the owner of the restaurant used to shave Truffle on top of his creations, however, now, this dish has evolved in a myriad more of interpretations.

Mine is simple: Store bought Tortellini in Vodka sauce. Olive oil dough.

Definitely takes the fuss out of an Iconic dish, while remaining a show stopper. I also tried to keep it true with its original single serve portions. If you have ceramic dishes go ahead. I used a mold to help form it, then cooked  in a baking sheet.




Level: EASY

Time 1 hour plus baking time

FOR THE FILLING: sauce adapted from Rachael Ray.

300 g Dry Tortellini (i used Barilla, shelf stable kind, because ….it’s hurricane season in Hawaii)

2 T butter

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 onion diced

100g ~4oz of Pancetta , diced

500 g tomato sauce (any kind, I used Pomi)

125 ml ~1/2 C of Vodka

125 ml!~1/2 C of Beef broth

125ml ~1/2 C heavy cream

100g ~2/3 C Grated dry cheeses (any)


Place a large pot of salted water on the stove, bring it to boil and cook the Tortellini about 2/3 of the time indicated. They will be al dente and they will also keep cooking in the oven.

To make the sauce, sautee’ the onion and the garlic in butter. When fragrant, and the garlic starts to brown, add the pancetta. Cook until the pancetta is a bit crisp. Don’t burn the garlic!

Add the Vodka and let it reduce to half. Keep cooking. Add the broth and repeat.

Add the tomato sauce and taste for salt and pepper. I added some chili paste but I like a little kick…

When the tomato sauce has evaporated, about 5 minutes, add the cream and the cheese.

Toss the tortellini in the sauce. There needs to be PLENTY of sauce, or the finished result will be too dry.

NOTE: if the tortellini is cooked before the sauce is ready, don’t panic. Just coat them with a bit of olive oil and set them aside.



250 g of AP flour

4 T olive oil

100 ml of water (or as needed)

a pinch of salt



In a large bowl mix the flour and salt. Make a small well in the center and add the olive oil (do not use a cheap oil….you will taste it!!!).

Now, while mixing with a fork, add the water a little bit at a time…knead the dough on a flat surface until all the flour is incorporated. If it is too sticky add a bit of flour, but keep kneading it for 5 minutes until smooth. Let it rest under the bowl until the pasta is cooled down to room temperature, about 30 minutes.



Divide the Olive Oil dough into 4 . While keeping the other covered. roll out a circle with one piece. Don’t worry, it’s VERY elastic and won’t break!!

Make it really thin, or the folds will remain raw when baked. (not good)

Then, using a ceramic or metal mold, arrange the circle of dough inside it. Fill it with the Pasta and sauce. Cover it with the dough and brush it with an egg yolk if you like.

With the same dough, I wrapped a Tortellino and made it look like a bigger and fancier Tortellino….You can color the Olive oil dough any way you like it.

Bake at 350F convection for about 30 minutes making sure that the “treasure chests) don’t ooze the sauce.

Serve lightly warm, not hot “in Purezza” which means just a bit of olive oil , parsley or basil and a dusting of Parmigiano cheese.

If you have leftover pasta, just eat it. It has no calories since it’s the “quality control” kind.

Let me know how you like it!!


PASTA!, Piatti dal Mondo, Primi Piatti

Informazioni su growingupitalian

Salve! Vivo tra due mondi, ma con i piedi per terra. E' un lusso poter scegliere il meglio di entrambi. La vita mi ha fatto questo regalo, e lo voglio condividere con Voi!! Sono nata negli anni 60 in Italia. Il mondo della televisione in Bianco e Nero, senza cibi GMO, senza smart phones. La mia infanzia e' stata costellata di persone incredibili e memorie indelebili della mia famiglia. Ora, 50 anni dopo e 10 mila km di distanza apparte, tutte queste memorie hanno contribuito ad arricchire la mia vita ..dopotutto, una ragazza puo' lasciare l'Italia, ma l'Italia non lasciam mai le sue ragazze!.Hello all. I live in between two worlds (USA and Italy) but I'm really grounded. I believe it's a luxury to be able to pick and choose the best of both. I've been given that gift and I'm sharing it with you. I was born in the 60's in Italy. Black and White pictures, no GMO, no tablets, no computers or cell phones. My childhood was starred by people and memories. It sure takes a village to raise a child...and a great family. I was blessed to have all of the above. Now, fast forward 50 years, 10,000 kilometers away. My life is richer than ever because of my upbringing. I have stories...lots of stories I will share with you. Afterall, A GIRL might leave Italy, but Italy NEVER leaves the girl!

Precedente Tuscan 'Gnudi: Italy's naked pasta.

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