November 5, 2010

Homemade Asparagus & Basil Tortellini Stuffed with Cheese in Marinara Sauce

Hooray for grandparents offering to take your child for a sleepover for no reason other than just because! I figure a romantic Italian dinner is in order tonight. I decided to make tortellini (yet another thing to cross off on my to-cook list) ahead of time and freeze it. I have made homemade pasta before in the form of ravioli, pierogi and spaghetti but never tortellini. I wanted to do something special with it, so I decided to try to flavor it. I have never flavored my pasta before, so this was a new experience. I had leftover asparagus in my fridge that I needed to use up, so I decided to use my pasta recipe and play around with the asparagus to flavor it. It worked like a charm. Yummy! With the marinara sauce, you can hardly see that the pasta is green. This is a perfect way to sneak in some extra vegetables without your family knowing. Shaping the tortellini was simple and relaxing. I definitely recommend that you do this... now.

Cheese Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c shredded cheese of your choice (mozzarella works nicely but I used cheddar and Monterey jack)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil (fresh works best but I am out)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • In a large bowl, combine all of the above ingredients together well and refrigerate until ready to use.

Asparagus-Basil Tortellini Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/3 c flour PLUS more for kneading and rolling
  • 2/3 c asparagus, cooked and chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c milk (I use skim)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

  • Place the flour on a clean counter top and make a well in the middle (or place it in a large bowl).
  • Blend together the asparagus, egg, milk, salt and basil in a food processor.
  • Pour the asparagus mixture into the flour well (or into the large bowl). Carefully mix the ingredients together, until dough forms. Use more or less flour to keep it from being too sticky.
  • Knead the dough until it is smooth.
  • Roll the dough out into 1/8-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter or a drinking glass, cut out circles. After the circles are cut out, take the scraps and knead them into another ball of dough. Roll it out and cut out more circles. Repeat one last time. You will get about 36 dough rounds, depending on the size of your circles.
  • Take the prepared cheese filling out of the fridge. Put about 1/2 teaspoon or so of cheese in the center of each dough round, enough that you can fold the circle in half and not have cheese spilling out of the sides.
  • Lightly wet the outside edge of each round with water.
  • Fold the dough round in half to form a half circle and press the edges to seal. Hold the half circle with your thumb and index finger at the corners. Take the outer corners and and roll them around your thumb. Pinch where the dough overlaps to seal it, using a drop of water to help with the seal. Place it on a floured surface and repeat with the remaining rounds.
  • To cook now: Boil salted water and add the tortellini in batches, leaving enough room for the tortellini to be able to move freely in the boiling water. Boil the tortellini for about 5 minutes or until they float, to desired doneness. I froze mine since I made them early.
  • To cook later: Freeze them until ready for use. They will only need to boil a minute or two longer in the water. Cook to desired doneness.
  • Serve with your favorite marinara sauce (recipe follows). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Enjoy!

Marinara Sauce


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 c dry red wine
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion, dried pepper flakes, basil and oregano; saute about 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer.
  • Pour in the tomato paste, stirring for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the whole tomatoes and cut them up with a fork as you add them to the pot.
  • Stir in the wine.
  • Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
  • Simmer the sauce uncovered at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Add water if a thinner sauce is desired (I add about 1 1/2 c water).
  • I strain the sauce because my husband is not a huge fan of chunks generally. Also, I throw in a few meatballs for him since he feels like a meal isn't a meal without some meat.
  • Enjoy!
No Madelyn rating on this recipe as she was away at a sleepover!

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