Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tortellini Alfredo

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Opening a restaurant is not easy. It's been an extremely busy start to the new year when that's your major focus. Since Monday, I've been putting in 12+ hours each day at the restaurant to get it ready. I'm about to leave in a few minutes for another long day and that means my time for leisurely cooking is pretty much close to nothing. However I have managed to get some cooking time squeezed in. For example, this Tortellini Alfredo was a dish I whipped up in less than 20 minutes... so cooking is still possible despite a busy schedule. So if I'm able to get a meal on the table with minimal time, I'm sure others can too!

This recipe is really all about the alfredo sauce. Forget the prepared jars of sauce at the store... it's just as easy to make a good alfredo sauce from scratch. Heavy cream is simmered until it reduces and thickens a bit - which is the secret here. Once reduced, the remaining ingredients of pasta, vegetables,  some reserved pasta water, Parmesan cheese, pepper and nutmeg are added. You can pair it with any pasta and/or vegetable of your choice because in my book, alfredo sauce makes things taste better. In this case, I tossed the alfredo sauce with store bought spinach and cheese tortellini, peas and some ham.

Tortellini Alfredo
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
9 ounces fresh tortellini (homemade or storebought)
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup frozen peas, slightly thawed
1/4 cup chopped cooked ham


Bring 1 cup of the heavy cream and the butter to a simmer in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

While the cream reduces, bring 4 1/2 quarts water to a rolling boil, covered, in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, scoop about 1/2 cup boiling water into each serving bowl set the bowls aside to warm. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until just shy of al dente.

Meanwhile, return the cream mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and add the pasta, Parmesan, nutmeg, peas and ham to the cream mixture. Cook over low heat, tossing the pasta with tongs to combine, until the cheese is melted, the sauce coats the pasta, and the pasta is just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Working quickly, empty the serving bowls of the water, divide the pasta among the bowls, tossing the pasta to coat well with sauce. Serve immediately

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