Tortellini Primavera with Cajun Shrimp

Tortellini are ring-shaped pasta, sometimes also described as “navel shaped”, hence their alternative name – “belly button” (ombelico).

Originally from the Italian region of Emilia (in particular Bologna and Modena), they are usually stuffed with a mix of meat, which is pork loin, raw prosciutto, and Mortadella.

It also contains Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, egg and nutmeg.

The Origins of Tortellini

Legend claims that Venus and Zeus were weary after a day of worrying that they stared at a near by inn.

It is said that night the innkeeper went up to their room and peeked through the key hole to see the navel of Venus.

The site of seeing this leaves him spellbound – so much so that he immediately rushes to the kitchen and creates a pasta inspired by Venus’ navel…and so was born the Tortellini.

IS ALL OF THAT TRUE – you ask?

I don’t really know – But that’s what Barrilla (the pasta makers) write on their website – titled What Is The Origin Of Tortellini.

The Italian Tradition of Tortellini

In the land of pasta tortellini’s birth, the region near the Italian city of Bologna, they’re strictly served as broth-like dumplings.

Tortellini in Broth
Tortellini in Broth – Image Source: La Cucina Italiana

There in Bologna a tortellini has never been served as a Pasta Primavera and no less served with Cajun shrimp.

Cajun shrimp over pasta

Gianni degli Angeli is the president of the San Nicola Association, which has taken on the task of safeguarding the local region’s renowned culinary traditions.

He says the No. 1 symbol of the local gastronomic culture is the tortellino.

“In times of poverty and hardship, we ate tortellini only at Christmas, Easter and at weddings, because the filling is made of costly ingredients like prosciutto and parmesan cheese,” he says.

Tortellini are an integral part of family life in the Emilia region, says Massimo Bottura, chef and owner of a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Modena.

He says, “I grew up under the kitchen table escaping my older brothers at my grandmother’s, where flour fell on my feet”(source: NPR).

Cajun Shrimp

These spicy smoked cajun shrimp bring a lot of pizazz to the pasta dish.

Use as much or as little smoked Cajun pepper as you’d like, depending on your taste and those you cook for.

Jar  on plate with smoked Cajun  spice
Smoked Cajun Pepper Spice

The smoked Cajun pepper spice is a mix of:

• Smoked Paprika

• Black Pepper

• Chilli Flakes

• Dried Thyme

• Dried Oregano

• Garlic Powder

• Onion Powder

If the spice you are using for the shrimp is a Creole Cajun Seasoning, it would have all of the seasonings noted above, with the addition of dried parsley and basil.

Tortellini Primavera with Cajun Shrimp

1 package (20 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini

3/4 cup sweet peas, fresh or frozen

2 medium sized carrots cut into 1/4 inch circles

3 cups broccoli florets, stems removed

12-15 large shrimp, shell, head and guts remove

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp. smoked Cajun pepper spice

Sauce

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking in potted water, add 2 tablespoons of butter to a large skillet over medium heat, and let melt.

Next place shrimp over butter and sauté for about a minute then sprinkle Cajun spice over shrimp and continue to cook shrimp on both sides until pink.

Shrimp in  a frying pan

Remove skillet from heat and spoon shrimp onto a plate and set aside.

Next, wipe skillet clean and return to heat.

Add the 1/2 cup butter to warmed skillet and melt. Once butter is melted add the garlic, stir and cook until garlic is fragrant about 1 minute.

Next add heavy cream, cheese, and nutmeg and mix well.

Next add vegetables and stir in. Allow to warm about 2 or 3 minutes.

Next add pasta and mix in well.

Two options: mix shrimp with pasta and vegetables or plate pasta and top with shrimp.

Fennel and Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Balsamic Mustard Vinaigrette

Fennel and Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Balsamic Mustard Vinaigrette

Mustard has a sharp, hot, pungent flavor. Over time though, the heat of prepared mustard can dissipate, because of the chemical compounds coming in contact with oxygen after they have been crushed.

As a prepared condiment, mustard could contain ingredients like salt, sour vinegar, and sweet flavors. Turmeric is most often added mainly to give mustard its yellow color.

Because of its antibacterial properties, mustard will not grow mold, mildew, or harmful bacteria. Mustard can last indefinitely without becoming inedible or harmful, though it may dry out, lose its flavor, or turn brown from oxidation. Just stir in a tiny amount of wine or vinegar to help improve dried out mustard.

Dijon style mustard with the addition of wine, was first developed in Dijon, France.

Now for our featured recipe:

Fennel and Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Balsamic Mustard Vinaigrette

3 slices center-cut bacon

1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined (recommended not to use farm grown shrimp, as it contains more cholesterol, than its wild caught counter part)

2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 1 medium bulb)

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (when making this in the summer, you can use Symphony Cherry Tomatoes, as they come in a variety of colors)

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

1 (9-ounce) package fresh baby spinach

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (we like to use infused balsamic vinegar, our favorite is balsamic infused with pomegranate)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (if possible get the Dijon that has some whole seeds, and you will get a sharp, hot, pungent flavor to your salad)

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt (better than regular table salt. It contains all of the trace minerals, so you use less salt)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, optional

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving the drippings, and crumble the bacon., and set aside.

Fennel and Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Balsamic Mustard Vinaigrette -close upNow add the prepared shrimp to the pan, and cook about 2 to 3 minutes on each size. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the bacon, fennel, grape tomatoes, red onion, and baby spinach.

Combine the remaining ingredients at the bottom of a large salad bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Now add the bacon, fennel, grape tomatoes, red onion, baby spinach, and shrimp. Toss the ingredients until well coated with the balsamic mustard vinaigrette toss.

Plate and serve.

 

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Shrimp and Snap Pea Stir-Fry

Shrimp and Snap Pea Str-Fry

Prepare a meal in a snap with this super fresh stir-fry. Stir-frying is one of the fastest ways to prepare dinner. Small cuts of food or bite sized foods cook up in no time when tossed into a hot pan.

We even went a step further with this stir-fry, we topped it with lemon zest and shavings of fresh ginger root. Ginger is great for digestion, reduces pain and inflammation, and wards off some cancers.

If you are increasing your omega-3 in your diet, shrimp is a great choice with .29 grams per a 3 ounce serving.

Our featured recipe is – Shrimp and Snap Pea Stir-Fry – and here is what you will need.

2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 can of sliced water chestnuts, drain

12-16 ounces large shrimp, cooked

1/4 cup garlic and green onion teriyaki sauce (your favorite brand; we use Kikkoman)

2 cups cooked wild rice and red barely

1 cup organic chicken broth

cooking rise

Pour 1 cup of water and 1 cup of organic chicken broth into a medium sauce pan, add rice and bring to a boil on high heat.

Once boiling lower heat to low to simmer for 45 minutes. What we do so the rise will not be soggy after cooking it, is place a dry clean towel over mouth of pot and place the lid over the towel. As the water evaporates and rises to the lid water forms again only to fall back over the cooking rice.

With the towel in place, it will hold the vapor not allowing it to fall back over the rice. The rice is always 100% guaranteed  to be fluffy.

When rice is done remove towel, fluff with a fork and set aside.

washing snap peas

 

Meantime, wash and trim the Snap Peas and set aside. Next, open the can of water chestnuts, drain off  liquid and set aside.

preparing and stir-frying Shrimp and Snap Pea Stir-Fry

Next place a large frying pan or a wok if you have one over high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When heated add 1/8 cup of the stir fry sauce. Place peas and chestnuts into pan and stir-fry until snap peas turn a bright green in color. Place into a medium bowel and set aside.

Using the same pan, add the shrimp and remaining 1/8 cup of stir-fry sauce. Stir-fry until shrimp is more oblique in color than orange. Add back the vegetables to shrimp and stir-fry 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

close up of Shrimp and Snap Pea Str-Fry

Spoon some rice on to a dinner plate, spoon some shrimp stir-fry over rice and serve. As we stated before hand, we topped the stir-fry with lemon zest and shavings of fresh ginger root. Enjoy the wonderful flavors of this splendid stir-fry.

 

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