Cheese Tortellini with Tomato Basil Pan Sauce

It’s reached that point in the summer where I don’t really want to cook anymore. I’m bored with all of my usual summer meals and it’s hot enough that I don’t want to spend a lot of time sweating in the kitchen on a weeknight. I’ve eaten just about all the salad I want to eat for the year and as much as I’d like to consider a sliced fresh cucumber sprinkled with salt a sufficient meal, it’s not. This is the time of year when I long for winter’s soups, stews and heavy braised meat dishes – yet there’s no chance that they’re going to be made in my kitchen this month.

This is the part of the summer when I want to make something quick and easy if I’m cooking. And I’d prefer this quick and easy meal to contain some fresh vegetables. Tonight’s meal was inspired by a few ripe tomatoes sitting on my windowsill and a recent dinner at a friend’s house. Our friend threw together a dinner of tortellini with a quick (and delicious) tomato sauce while we stood in the kitchen drinking wine and watching him cook.

I’d almost forgotten about how easy that dinner looked until tonight when I didn’t really feel like cooking yet needed to use the tomatoes before they got too ripe. Luckily I had a package of tortellini in the freezer and the memory of how fast that meal came together.

The recipe below is a rough approximation of what I used. If you don’t want to use so much garlic, reduce the quantity. The same goes for the basil and parsley. If you don’t like a hint of spice, omit the crushed red pepper. But if you can help it, use fresh tomatoes. They’re just better than canned tomatoes. And if you have some other summer vegetables sitting around in need of a use, you can throw them in as well (the inspiration for this dish actually contained zucchini along with the tomatoes). Use what you feel is right. The most important thing here is that the meal can be prepared start to finish in about 20 minutes.

Cheese Tortellini with Tomato Basil Pan Sauce

Serves about 3 people

Cooking and prep time is about 20 minutes

1 package cheese tortellini
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 cup white wine
2-3 medium tomatoes, chopped
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare tortellini according to package directions. Drain once cooked and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in medium skillet at medium high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and onion and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add white wine to pan and simmer until liquid reduces to about 1/4 cup. This should take about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in tomatoes and cook until they have softened and most of the liquid in the pan has been cooked away, also about 5 minutes.

5. Mix in red pepper flakes, basil, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Toss sauce with tortellini and serve.

About the contributor:

Melissa McKelvey shares her recipes and adventures on her website, The Boastful Baker. She also writes the Bites and Morsels column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Mondays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.

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