Let’s talk about tortellini, that delicious stuffed pasta. Smothered in your favorite broth or sauce, tortellini is a delicious and filling feast.

Why the interest in tortellini?

Today is National Tortellini Day. But do we really need an excuse?

As legend has it, the pasta was developed by an innkeeper in Bologna, Italy, who was inspired to create a new pasta when he saw the naked navel of Venus, the goddess of love.

That’s the romantic version. Here’s the practical version.

The tortellini was developed by sometime around 1570, when someone was searching for a way to make a pasta stuffed with filling. They found that solution by folding the pasta around their fingertip to prevent the meat filling from spilling out during cooking.

In general, tortellini is always made with an egg pasta, but what you fill it with varies from family to family. Some pack it with ricotta, others with Parmesan. Still others prefer prosciutto or beef, and sometimes it’s a combination of meat and cheese. No matter what the filling, it’s traditionally served in a broth.

Here are 5 fun facts about this stellar pasta:

1. Tortellini is also known as “ombelico” pasta because of its belly button shape.

2. Tortellini is a bite-sized stuffed pasta but is distinct from the tortelloni which has a similar shape but is larger.

3. Up until the 19th century, tortellini was only served during the holidays and was reserved for the rich members of society.

4. An app has been created by a group of young graphic designers from Modena, Italy teaching people how to make tortellini.

5. An organization named the Learned Order of the Tortellini was formed in the city of Bologna to preserve the traditional tortellini.





Italian sausage soup with tortellini

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 cups beef broth

½ cup water

½ cup red wine

4 large tomatoes – peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

½ tablespoon packed fresh basil leaves

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 ½ cups sliced zucchini

8 ounces fresh tortellini pasta

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a 5 quart Dutch oven, brown sausage. Remove sausage and drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

Saute onions and garlic in drippings. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Skim fat from the soup. Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top of each serving.



Cheesy Italian tortellini

½ pound ground beef

½ pound Italian sausage, casings removed

1 (16 ounce) jar marinara sauce

1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms

1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated or fresh cheese tortellini

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Crumble the ground beef and Italian sausage into a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain.

Combine the ground meats, marinara sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours.

Stir in the tortellini, and sprinkle the mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the top. Cover and cook for 15 more minutes on LOW, or until the tortellini is tender.