Deep Fried Tortelli with Basil Pesto and Pecorino Crust

I first tried toasted ravioli at an Italian American restaurant in New Jersey. My sister had ordered them as an appetizer. They were golden delicious squares filled with oozing cheese and a crispy crust. All loved up with a generous side of marinara sauce to dip. If you are anything like me, I am a savory person. I will fight you for the last piece of fried anything. That said...they were delicious. Arriving home in the Uk, I told my friends about this seemingly simple idea. I decided to try it at home. Not having the recipe, I came up with my own. Feel free to use store-bought or homemade ravioli, tortellini, mezzaluna...any filled pasta will work. I like using homemade filled pasta because store-bought seem to be underseasoned and lacking the oozing centre I can achieve at home. I used fine breadcrumbs, but panko can also be used. Season your breadcrumbs liberally! This is crucial. Serve alongside your favourite pasta sauce, jarred or homemade. For the sake of simplicity, here is the basic recipe. Tweak to your heart's desire.


Deep Fried Tortelli with Basil Pesto and Pecorino Crust

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Prep:10 minutes

Cook: 4-5 minutes


250 g. Package fresh tortellini or ravioli, any flavour you like. I used pancetta & mozzarella

250 g. Breadcrumbs

100 g. Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated, plus more to serve

200 g. Marinara sauce (tomato pasta sauce) or your favourite, store-bought or homemade, to serve.

30 g. (2 tbsp. ) Fresh basil pesto, store-bought or homemade

2 large free-range eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Litre vegetable oil to fry


  1. Fill a deep stockpot,( do not use non-stick as the temp will never get high enough to fry), with oil.

  2. In a bowl, add eggs and pesto, beat and set aside.

  3. In another bowl add breadcrumbs, salt pepper and grated cheese.

  4. Dip the tortellini in the egg and basil and lift, letting excess drip back into the bowl.

  5. Dredge into breadcrumbs. Place on a large, clean plate. Continue until all the tortellini are breaded.

  6. Heat oil to 180°C/ 350 °F. Line another plate with paper towels and set it aside.

  7. Drop-in half of the tortellini and deep fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Flip them so they fry evenly on both sides. Drain to the paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with more cheese. Fry second batch. Repeat.

  8. While the second batch is frying, heat your tomato sauce.

  9. Serve immediately with the sauce.