A fun challenge: a whole meal made with Tortellini
|April 26, 2011||Posted by ameliaps under contest, pasta and grains|
I recently received an email that asked: “Do you love to cook Italian? Share your recipe with Barilla and Foodbuzz for a chance to win a trip to Italy! Barilla is challenging you to imagine an Italian-inspired recipe or meal created with Barilla Tortellini”…I could not resist the temptation: how could I turn down a great challenge? (Here is the Barilla-FoodBuzz contest announcement and rules)
I am as busy as the next person, so Tortellini are often what’s for dinner in our household and it’s fun to imagine new creative ways to serve them up, other than the usual versions (our favorite: with peas, ham, and white sauce; classic: in chicken stock; easy: with butter and Parmesan; very Italian: in a light tomato sauce; …). The possibilities are virtually endless.
For the contest I devised a whole meal made from Tortellini Barilla, from appetizer to dessert. For the appetizer (antipasto), I created “mini-caprese Tortellini spiedini” (skewers). Easy, fast, yet so delightful that they would make a great party starter.
For the main course (primo) I wanted something hearty, so I created “caramelized red onions, pancetta and rosemary Tortellini with Pecorino”. The red onions (the Sicilian ones are the best) cook in the pancetta fat and provide a sweet contrast to the cured salted meat (pancetta is Italian salt cured pork belly: you could use bacon if you prefer), finished by the woodsy lemony richness of the rosemary. Everything sprinkled with grated Pecorino cheese and fresh grated pepper, for a bit of sharpness. This is a very comforting and strong dish that brings together different Italian flavors.
Finally, I am very proud of my dessert (dolce) creation: Tortellini “seadas” style (with honey and orange zest). Seadas are a classic dessert from Sardinia: they are sweet fried cheese ravioli tossed in honey (chestnut is traditional and has a very intense, nutty flavor, but it’s hard to find, so any kind will do) and flavored with a touch of grappa and plenty of orange zest.
Antipasto (Appetizer): Mini-caprese Tortellini spiedini
1 cup Tortellini Barilla (cooked as per directions and cooled)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), marinated in olive oil and spices (I find these in the freshe cheese section at my local grocery store)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper TT
A bunch of fresh basil
Small wood skewers
To assemble skewers: place a ball of mozzarella, a basil leaf, a few tortellini, finish with a cherry tomato. Continue assembling skewers until you finish your ingredients. Drizzle them all with some extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Primo (Main): Caramelized red onions, pancetta and rosemary Tortellini with Pecorino
4 oz. (1 cup) cubed pancetta (or substitute bacon)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Tbsp sugar (I like Demerara or Turbinado)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or substitute Parmigiano)
1 8-oz. three Cheese Barilla Tortellini, cooked according to directions
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
Meanwhile, in a large pan cook the pancetta until golden and sizzling. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels (so it stays crisp).
In the same pan add the olive oil then the thinly sliced red onions and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add the sugar and the red wine vinegar and continue cooking a few more minutes. The onions should be caramelized in about 10 minutes. Note: if you see that they are sticking to the pan, just add with a bit of water.
While the onions are caramelizing, cook the tortellini in the boiling salted water and drain (reserving about 1/2 cup of the water).
Toss the tortellini with the pancetta and caramelized onions. If you see that the dish is a bit “dry”, just add some of the reserved pasta water and mix. Top with fresh rosemary, grated Pecorino and sprinkle with fresh grated pepper.
Dolce (Dessert): Tortellini “seadas” style (with honey and orange zest)
2 cups Tortellini Barilla (cooked as per directions)
1/2 cup honey (chestnut is traditional, but hard to find), plus more to top
Optional: a couple of tablespoons of Grappa
In a large pan melt the honey just until warm, adding the orange zest and grappa (if using). Quickly toss in the cooked Tortellini. Serve on a plate, topping with more honey if desired and more orange zest.