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.