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.

National Tortellini Day

National Tortellini Day

collage-of-places-in-modena-italyTortellini is a pasta that has made centuries of tradition for all the families that live in an Italian province called Modena.

The pasta is made on special occasions, using recipes handed down from one generation to another.

It is said the origins of tortellini dates back to the early 1600’s.

There is doubt and speculation as to who the person or persons are that invented the pasta.

Italian food is romantic

Today, February 13th is National Tortellini Day in the United States, according to The Nibble.

Italian food represents romance, and can bring out the romantic affection in anyone.

How is Tortellini Made

Here is a short video to demonstrate how tortellini is made. The video will present the preparation of Tortellini Bolognesi.

 

Nutritional Benefits of Tortellini 

Regular cheese tortellini, though it is pasta made from flour does have some nutritional benefits, like 72 mg of potassium, 20 mg of magnesium, also some small amounts of vitamin-A, iron and vitamin B-12 per 3/4 of a cup serving.

Recent studies have shown that a deficiency in vitamin B-12 can be associated with feelings of fatigue and low energy, including depression, irritability, anxiety, and dementia. So let’s eat some Tortellini.

Here’s three recipes from our kitchen to celebrate National Tortellini Day:

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

Plated close up of Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinagrette

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

 

What Others Are Reading:

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

The medical journal, “American Medical Association” publish  in 2010 based on a study that found vitamin B-6 when combined with folate ( not folac acid, the inferior form, a synthetic form) and methionine ( an amino acid, also found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, garlic, onions, legums, and some dairy) can reduce the chances of lung cancer by as much as two-thirds. Asparagus contains both of these vitamins, and including the amino acid methionine.

More great news of the vegetable asparagus is it contains saponins which helps to fight inflammation, and can help with arthritis and rheumatism. It can also help to prevent varicose veins. Ayurvedic medicine has used asparagus for century’s to treat the symptoms of menopause as well as infertility and loss of libido (in both men and women).

The featured recipe also includes vitamins and minerals like vitamin-A, vitamin-C, calcium, and iron. It also has 18% of your daily need of protein 9 grams (daily protein need is 25 grams for woman and 30 grams for men).

Now for our featured recipe, and here is what you will need.

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

1 package cheese tortellini

Pint of cream

¼ cup grated Asiago cheese

5 – 7 asparagus stalks

1 4 oz. can mushrooms

1 cup baby spinach

1/2 tsp. black pepper

 

Asparagus being blanched - Mushroom Tortellini with AsparagusBring a pot of water to boiling. Separately prepare a bowl of cold water with some ice.

Add salt to the boiling water and blanch the asparagus for 2 – 3 minutes until they just start to become tender.

Remove and add asparagus to the cold water to stop the cooking and set the color.

Remove to a paper towel to drain and dice into ½ inch pieces. You could do this ahead of time and keep the prepare asparagus in the refrigerator.

Next bring a pot of water to boil and the tortellini according to package instructions.

While cooking the pasta, heat a large sauté pot over medium heat and add 3/4 of the cream. While the cream is heating continue to stir and allow it to slow reduce, scrap sides of pot if needed.

When the cream has reduced by about 1/3 lower the heat and simmer, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Next add the asiago cheese to the cream, and turn the heat to high, stir in till cheese is melted. Add mushrooms and black pepper, and stir in.

Tortellini should be done now, so quickly drain and add to the cream along with the asparagus and toss to combine.

Place spinach on top of mixture and place a lid over pot, and allow spinach to wilt, about 4 minutes.

If you see the cream sauce to thick and would like it a bit thinner, just add a little more cream a tablespoon at a time till you see the thinness you desire.

Plate paste and garnish with cheese, if desired.

A great addition to this recipe would be roasted pine nuts. You can also 86 the mushrooms if you like, in other words delete them from the recipe (86 is a restaurant term for “out of product”, can also mean, “you’re out of here”).

 

Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Plated close up of  Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil VinagretteSummer might be gone, but Summer sausage can still be enjoyed. Most everyone knows that Summer sausage is any sausage that can be kept without refrigeration. Summer sausage is usually a mixture of pork and other meat such as beef or venison. Summer sausage can be dried or smoked, and while curing ingredients vary significantly, curing salt is almost always used. Seasonings may include mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic salt, or sugar (Wikapedia ).

Sausage in Latin is salsicius, which means “prepared by salting.” Sausage has its origins since ancient times as a method of preserving meat but many experts believe the sausage was first invented by the Sumerians, in what is now Iraq, about 5,000 years ago.

According to the Wise Geek and we quote, “Despite its name, summer sausage is not necessarily made in the summer, although it can be. It is made with meat scraps, like all sausage, so it tends to be made when animals are butchered, which is often in the fall or spring. The sausage might also be made with a combination of meats for efficiency and flavor variety. Cuts are often kept lean to ensure that the sausage does not become rancid during the curing process [end quote].”

As for the benefits of basil in the vinaigrette link here to the Health News Library and read how basil is an alternative to treating depression: Holy Basil a Natural Anti-Depressant.

Now for our featured recipe: Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette, and here is what you will need.

ingredients for Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinagrette

Before making the vinaigrette, boil and cook the tortellini according to package instructions. Basically is to bring to boil a pot with 5 quarts of water, add pasta and cook for 6 to 9 minutes. drain off water and set aside to cool.

While the pasta is coking you can make the vinaigrette. From the ingredients on our cutting board you will need the following.

1 cup chopped seeded plum tomatoes

1 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

Place the first 6 ingredients and 1/2 cup of the olive oil into a food processor. While processing, add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, and process until well blended. You can season to taste with salt and pepper. But as the sausage is curd with salt, you may not want to add any salt to the mixture. Set aside.

chopped Plum tomatoes in food processor

I prepared the tomatoes, seeding them, and then placed them first in the processor, and put the seeds and veins into a small strainer, and placed it over the opening of the processor to allow the  tomato juice to drip off over the cut plum tomatoes. Next slice up the sausage into small strips, set aside. For the olives I used a can of whole medium olives, and sliced each 3 times, till I measured a cup.

By this time pasta should be ready to mix with the prepared ingredients.

Tomato Basil Vinagrette at bottom of salad bowl

Add 1 cup of Tomato Basil Vinaigrette to bottom of a large serving bowl. Next add prepared sausage, and olives.

adding Tortellini

Add cooled, or a least semi-cooled tortellini to the bowl, and mix till ingredients are will coated with the basil liquid mix.

Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinagrette

Plate and enjoy, Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette.

What Others are saying About Basil, Pasta, and Vinaigrette:

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

This is a real simple Italian soup to prepare. The chicken sausage used is Al Fresco all Natural Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage. The canned tomatoes are stewed with basil and oregano as well as the spices in the sausage, there is no need to add any other flavorings. The pasta is a 3-cheese tortellini. This soup is full of flavor.

While looking at other bloggers blogs who have visited Splendid Recipes and More, I found this recipe at The Skinny Fiber Blog, though I did make a few changes.

Just roast the potatoes, cook the pasta, chicken sausage and cut the green beans and mix all together in the sauce pot. Enjoy!!

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

9 oz. of Barilla three cheese tortellini

3 cups chicken broth

2 – 14.5 cans diced tomatoes basil, garlic & oregano

1 lb. of frozen cut green beans, cut to 1 inch

1 lb. fully cooked chicken sausage, sliced

½ lb. small red potatoes, diced

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Wash potatoes, quarter and dice, do not peel. Roast in oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

Cook sausage, let cool, slice and set aside.

Meanwhile in a large sauce pot over medium heat add broth, cans of tomatoes, chicken broth, cut green beans, and mix in well.

Next add pasta and cooked chicken sausage, and stir to incorporate well.

Let mixture in sauce pot simmer over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

Plate and serve. Top with Parmesan cheese.

What Others are Saying Italian Soups

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