Tortellini, treasure of Italian cuisine
February 07 2019 09:35 PM
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DELIGHTFUL
DELIGHTFUL: Tomato tortellini soup not only has a delightful name but a delicious reputation too. Photo by the author

By Tarun Kapoor

Winter time we all want a comfort food that is warm and sumptuous and hot pasta soup is a perfect choice for this season. We all know that the pasta is known by its own unique shape. Today I will talk about the Tortellini pasta, which is the most special member of the Italian Pasta family. If you haven’t yet experienced tortellini, it is a pouch of rolled dough encasing various fillings. If moulded accurately it creates a delicate circle or slightly triangular shape. With the curved and carefully cut egg noodles crowning varying pockets of goodness, they are a work of culinary art. Possibly no Italian food is surrounded by so much love and history. This thoughtfully crafted pasta is said to have been born in the town of Castelfranco Veneto, in the province of Modena, near Bologna. In that region near the Italian city of Bologna they are strictly served as dumplings in broth. While the exact date of origin may not be certain, but historians believe that the initial preparation of this delectable Italian speciality dates to 1500’s. This timeless recipe and treasure of Italian cuisine not only has a delightful name but a delicious reputation too.
Tortellini are an integral part of the family life in the Emilia region. Tortellini brings out the family spirit and every family has their own version. Some add more parmigiana, some add less parmigiana, some add other speciality cheese, and some add herbs. Making tortellini is an elaborate process and women were responsible for it but with the popularity of Italian cuisine more men make this now a days.
Tortellini is a traditional recipe which was handed over by the grandmothers to daughters and granddaughters. For every 4 oz (115 grams), one whole egg is used. To make the dough sift the flour and make a crater in the centre and break the egg in the centre and whisk briskly with a fork to break the egg and then make a smooth stiff dough. Once the dough is smooth, shape it like ball and keep it aside to rest and start on the filling using a moisture of parmesan, eggs, chicken and nutmeg.
Traditionally the tortellini is always served in the broth, but today people serve it with butter, cream or tomato sauce, but then they are killing the taste of the filling. More likely, tortellini was discovered in the 1950s to encase the fillings and cook them without them spilling into the boiling water. No matter the history, Bologna has built a gastronomic reputation, and tortellini is said to remain at the heart of cooking and continue to be a well-practiced tradition. Tortellini is a storied and is time-honoured pasta that is an absolute must-try in Italy.
Tips to make perfect homemade tortellini
Do not over stuff your pasta. Extra filling in the pasta makes it difficult to seal the edges and the pasta breaks while poaching in water.
Keep the pasta covered. Pasta dries out quickly if left uncovered and thus becomes difficult to work with and prone tearing and cracking. Keep the pasta covered with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel to keep it soft.
Use ample flour. Be sure that you dust both the sides of tortellini with ample flour to avoid it sticking to each other or to the tray.
Have enough time in hand. Pasta making is a time-consuming process so allow yourself ample time to prepare it. But you can always make it beforehand and keep it frozen for later use.
Make sure the filling is chopped small enough to be encased in the pasta dough otherwise the filling will make it difficult to stuff the pasta and will break the pasta dough too.


Tomato Tortellini Soup


Ingredients


Olive oil 1 tbsp
Onion chopped ½ cup
Garlic minced 3 cloves
Bay leaves 2 leaves
Red pepper flakes 12 tsp
Tomato diced 600 gm
Vegetable broth 1 lt
Basil leaves few sprigs
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste 
Heavy cream ½ cup
Tortellini 300 gm
Parmesan cheese, grated ½ cup
For Garnish
Basil leaves to garnish


Method:
In a heavy bottom pan, heat olive oil and add chopped onion and garlic and cook until tender.
Stir in the bay leaves and crushed red pepper flakes.
Add the diced tomato and vegetable broth and simmer over slow flame.
Stir in fresh basil and season with salt and black pepper, simmer for 12-15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves and use a hand blender to blend the soup to a smooth consistency.
Stir in the tortellini and cook on medium low flame until tortellini is cooked.
Add heavy cream and add the grated parmesan cheese.
Serve hot garnished with fresh basil leaves



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