What Kinds of Tortellini Are Available?

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Tortellini come in many colors.
Tortellini come in many colors. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Tortellini are bite-sized dumplings that can be filled with meat, cheese, herbs and spices. They are available in a variety of colors and flavors, and as fresh, frozen or dried pasta. Tortellini can be boiled or baked for use in countless recipes. While the origin of tortellini remains a mystery, E*rcps reports the north Italian cities of Modena and Bologna have both laid claim to the pasta. According to ItalianTourism.com, Bolognese tradition mandates that tortellini be hand-made and served in a broth, not a heavy sauce. Recipes for the pasta date to the early 16th Century.

Dough

Tortellini are comprised of a simple egg pasta dough that comes in three basic colors. Standard unflavored pasta dough is given a golden hue by the addition of semolina flour.While the basic ingredients are the same for all varieties, tortellini dough can be colored and flavored by adding blanched, crushed and drained spinach or tomatoes into the dough. Spinach gives the dough a green hue, while tomatoes color it red.

Fillings

Tortellini traditionally are filled with meats, cheeses and herbs, but many modern varieties also incorporate vegetables. Classic Italian recipes call for a tortellini filling of ground pork, turkey breast and even prosciutto or Mortadella. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese usually is added, too. According to Academiabarilla, one variation on the traditional recipe incorporates a filling made of stewed meat, cloves and onion. Restaurants and gourmet food suppliers offer tortellini with a variety of specialty fillings, including roasted spinach and garlic, pumpkin, wild mushroom, and asparagus and ricotta. If you can't find the flavor you want, try making tortellini at home. Several websites offer step-by-step instructions for building the perfect tortellini.

Sauces & Toppings

Tortellini originally were cooked and served in a meat broth, not sauce. That traditional style of serving the pasta is available at many restaurants, which use a broth derived from beef, pork or poultry. While prepared broths are available in grocery stores, many cooks use a marinara or Alfredo sauce instead when serving tortellini at home. Those sauces are available jarred or frozen and come in a variety of flavor combinations, such as garlic and herb. Serve tortellini with just broth or sauce, or top with chopped meat, like prosciutto or diced vegetables, such as tomatoes and mushrooms.

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