Pasta, pasta, pasta. If you love food, you love pasta. Heck, if you even eat food, chances are you probably like pasta.
When we think of pasta, we tend to think of the Italian variety; spaghetti being the most common, followed by linguini, farafalle, fusilli, lasagna, penne, and the more humble elbow.
The authors of the book Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food, define pasta as: “the end product of a series of technical operations (on a domestic, artisanal, or industrial scale) applied to a mixture of soft wheat flour or durum wheat semolina with water or other substances, more or less liquid, making it possible to obtain a kneaded dough that is subsequently cut into small regular shapes, which are then cooked in a moist environment.”
But according to this book, grains that were combined with liquids and then cut existed long before the Italian pasta? There are numerous grain-and-water doughs that are transformed into noodles in different parts of Asia, Africa, and northern Europe, limited not just to wheat flours, but rice, barley, and other various cereals.
“Pasta” is most definitely an Italian word, and maybe that’s why we associate it so much with Italian noodles. But at its most technical term, pasta can encompass any shape, size, and type of noodle. Including tortellini.
Making enough tortellini to feed 24 people is a very labor-intensive process. Trust me, I know now.
It starts off with eggs.
Lots of eggs.
Which are mixed with flour, salt, olive oil, and tumeric.
It is almost guaranteed that kneading this dough will result in the The Thing hands.
I learned that the key to good, pliable pasta dough is first mixing all the ingredients until just incorporated, letting it rest 20 minutes, kneading it, then resting it for another 10 minutes before finally rolling it out.
We used a rolling pin and a mason jar lid to cut out little rounds of pasta dough.
Even after we cut out the circles, we had to use our hands to stretch them out before filling with a kale-walnut filling.
It took us practically all of dinner-cook, but we finally made an army of tortellini, some of which you see in the picture above.
But we couldn’t JUST serve naked tortellini – we had to have a sauce.
A VODKA sauce.
Made with tomatoes, heavy cream, vodka, and seasoned to taste.
Once I was happy with how the sauce tasted and we cooked the tortellini, I let it simmer for half an hour, then moved it to a saucepan 10 minutes before we served dinner to warm through.
I tossed to coat and served the plump dumplings swimming in a creamy, velvety sauce.
Along with the tortellini, we served a cilantro-lime chickpea salad and sesame-grilled asparagus.
So not a very cohesive menu, but delicious nonetheless, wouldn’t you agree?