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Sorpresine with smoky tomato and mascarpone sauce

Ingannapreti con salsa affumicata al pomodoro e mascarpone

Sorpresine (little surprises), bugie (lies), or inganna-preti (deceive-the-priests) are some names to indicate the same kind of pasta shape that looks like it should be a filled pasta, but forget the filling because it is without the filling.

In fact, sorpresine are little squares of pasta dough folded twice to resemble tortellini or cappelletti without the filling.

The name ingannapreti refers to Romagna, while the other two are those used in Bologna and Emilia.

That is a recipe from the repertoire of the cucina povera of my region, Emilia-Romagna, and it was the dish of those who could not buy the meat for the filling of cappelletti or tortellini.


Abroad, the most common name is Little Surprises; in Italy, it is better known as ingannapreti. The origin of this funny name lies in the anticlericalism that has historically distinguished Romagna and which we also find traces among the recipes.

Strozzapreti (strangle-priest) and ingannapreti are typical examples of the Romagna peasant’s disposition toward the clergy. Romagna and Bologna were part of the State of the Church until the unification of Italy (I have told this history here). But while Bologna was rich, the Romagna area was poor and almost always hungry.


At that time, priests visited homes to collect taxes, which, I should mention, also happened during famine or illness of the head of the household. In both cases, strozzapreti and ingannapreti explicit the feelings of peasants in front of the taxes. The first name recalls a kind of exclamation/wishing (strangle-the-priest). In the second case, deceiving the priest refers to his disappointment with the absence of the filling from the pasta.

Sorpresine with smoky tomato and mascarpone sauce

Historical Notes

This recipe appears in many home cookbooks, such as the 19th-century one by Maria Santa Bazzoni, known as Marietta. The azdora was the grandma of the local gastronomy and historian Tino Babini, who recounts how at the Fair of the Seven Sorrows in Russi (Ravenna), in the 1950s and 1960s, there were ingannapreti next to cappelletti for those who, as yet, could not afford the former.

That Fair is the oldest in all of Romagna, its origins dating back to the late 16th century. It was Innocent XI who established it in 1688 to celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows, depicted in popular iconography with her heart pierced by seven swords, representing the sorrows of the Virgin’s life. The Fair still takes place every year in September.

Little lies 

At home, that was the name. I remember the summer version, with the bugie glistening with fragrant tomato sauce. In winter, grandma would add a few tablespoons of mascarpone to make the sauce, also made of tomato, more creamy and enveloping. Although, you can choose to eat ingannapreti or bugie in broth or dry with any sauce.

I removed its memory until I found the sorpresine listed on the menu in a restaurant on Via Saragozza in Bologna. I smiled and ordered that first course topped with passata just as at home. This pasta is good, but I have to admit that, as the gastronome Tino Babini wrote, the azdora had to close “softly and patiently one square at a time.”

Tortellini needs a lot of work, but the flavor of the filling repays the effort, the lies a little less so.

Still, in this journey through history, memories, and recipes, I could not find a place for it on my blog.

I topped the sorpresine with a smoked tomato and mascarpone sauce.
To turn it smoky, add a little bacon to the passata.

Buona cucina, Monica

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Sorpresine with smoky tomato and mascarpone sauce


Sorpresine with smoky tomato and mascarpone sauce

The sorpresine or ingannapreti resemble tortellini but are without the filling. I topped the pasta with lightly smoked tomato sauce, mascarpone cheese, and bacon.
Course First Course
Cuisine Emilia-Romagna
Keyword Pasta fresca
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 serves


Pasta dough

  • 2 eggs, about 100 g
  • 200 g 00 flour

Smoky tomato sauce

  • 30 g of olive oil
  • 60 g of butter
  • 80 g fresh mascarpone cheese
  • 100 g smoked bacon cut into thin strips
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme
  • 300 g of tomato passata
  • 100 ml of water
  • salt to taste


The pasta dough

  • Place the flour in a bowl.
  • Make a well with your fist in the center of the flour and add the eggs. 
  • Using a fork, gradually incorporate the flour into the well in a circular motion until large breadcrumbs form.
  • From this point on, knead the dough on a clean surface with hands and wrists, imparting a motion that pushes the mixture forward.
  • If you need to, clean the working surface with a bench scraper.
  • Knead the dough vigorously until smooth, firm, and well-combined, about 15 minutes. 
  • Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours at room temperature. If storing overnight, refrigerate, then bring back up to room temperature before use.

Pasta sheet

  • After resting, flour the cutting board and dough.
    Roll out a thin sheet of dough by hand or using a pasta machine.
  • By hand
    Flatten the ball with the palm of your hand and begin rolling out the pasta dough, starting from the center toward the sides and rotating it continuously (at least at first) to impart a regular shape. 
  • When the sheet becomes wide, wrap it around the rolling pin to rotate it.
  • When the pasta sheet is very thin, cut out 3.5x3.5cm squares using the pasta wheel.
  • Take a square of dough and form a triangle by joining and pressing two corners at the tip.
  • Pinch the other two corners by matching the points and pinch to seal.
  • Let the fresh dough rest for 30 minutes on a floured tray.


  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter in the oil over a low flame and on a medium-small stove.
  • Add the sauce, water, and smoked bacon and stir. Also, add the mascarpone cheese and cover with the lid.
  • Cook the sauce with the pan covered on low heat for 2 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, and cook for 3 minutes more or until reduced as you like, stirring occasionally. Taste, add salt if needed, and turn off.
  • Cook pasta in boiling salted water until it rises to the surface. Drain and toss in the saucepan.
  • You can freeze fresh pasta after air-drying it for at least an hour.
    Store leftover seasoned pasta in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Sorpresine with smoky tomato and mascarpone sauce


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