Saturday, 21 September 2013

Easy Tortelloni with Blue Cheese & Walnut Sauce

You say tortellini, I say tortelloni ... Let's call the whole thing pasta! Actually these are very similar, the only difference being size - tortelloni is the larger. Easy to remember which way round - the 'o' is fatter than the 'i'. I used a chilled, stuffed tortelloni here as that's all I could find, but either works well, and the plain dried version would be fine, too.

We recently spent a week in Bologna, and I'd been going wheat-free as much as possible - fun in Italy, to be sure. But for the last evening I gave up and had a really great tortelloni dish, more or less replicated here.

Once the ingredients are assembled, the dish should take no more than about 20 minutes and it's cooked on the hob using two pans. This quantity serves two - which is a whole chilled pack of the stuffed variety. If using dried plain tortellini, a suitable quantity for two might be about 40 pieces, cooked according to packet instructions. In this case some shredded spinach could be added to the sauce.

History Lesson
This pasta is a speciality of Bologna. Local legend says that the chap who invented it was looking for inspiration for a new pasta shape. When he caught sight of his new lover's navel - well, that was it. Almost enough to put you off the pasta, but hopefully not quite.

Tortelloni with Blue Cheese and Walnut Sauce

100ml double cream
50ml milk
60g vegetarian blue cheese, crumbled (e.g. Danish or Dolcelatte if suitable)
300g pack stuffed fresh tortelloni (e.g. spinach/ricotta, or about 40 pieces plain dried)
30g walnut pieces roughly chopped
Half tsp ground black pepper
Optional - sprig of fresh herb to garnish

1  Heat the cream, milk and cheese gently in a small pan, stirring sometimes, until the
          cheese is melting, but don't let the mixture boil. Keep it just under the boil.
2  Meanwhile, boil a good amount of water in a large pan, add the tortelloni and cook as
          instructions. The fresh pasta will need about 5 mins at a gentle simmer and very
          careful handling to avoid the pieces opening up. Dried pasta will need a little longer.
3  When the pasta is almost ready, add the walnuts and pepper to the cream mixture.
4  Drain the pasta, divide between hot dishes or bowls and pour the sauce over them
5  Garnish with the herb if used.

And that's it. I realise it's not exactly an aid to slimming, but just look at the Italians - very few of them seem overweight, and almost none of the young people, despite their tucking into pizza and pasta more often than do most of us.

As an afterthought, of course the sauce would go with almost any pasta. Even the very nice wheat-free penne in my cupboard.