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Stoney's Crew: Tortellini Al Forno

The Stoney's Crew Italian sauce I make for Tortellini can also be used for other pastas such as shells (like Casa's Con Quatro Formaggi) or vermicelli (wide spaghetti noodles.) We just happen to like Tortellini for a special treat and it reminds us of a fabulous dish at Papa Vino's. You can buy premade Tortellini in the dairy section of the grocery, but I have discovered that in our local Wal-Mart frozen food section (look for the sign PASTA) bags frozen for about 1/2 the you know where I pick it up. A bag of the frozen, says it serves 5. Since the sauce is so rich, we can usually get at least 6. I see no reason why you couldn't use the frozen cheese ravioli for this as well.
In a lot of ways, this is a "when you see the whites of their eyes" recipe. Organization is key. Have the side salads all made up and in the fridge ready to go. Before beginning the first step in the sauce pan set a pot of water on another burner and begin heating. (I cover and turn to high.)

In your skillet, pour a trip (or 2) around the pan of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add 2 tablespoons butter, 3 (at least) cloves of minced garlic and lightly begin a saute.

Add 8 oz of sliced fresh mushrooms to the pot. Let saute lightly. When the mushrooms are cooked you can add a sprinkle of pepper. Don't add salt, it will dry out the mushrooms.

Make a roux...I do this by tipping my skillet up on the burner cover behind the burner I am working on and pushing all of the mushrooms and garlic to the top. In this instance I used 3 tablespoons of butter and about 3 tablespoons of flour over the heat. Using a whisk, work the flour and butter together to cook the flour (it will be very lightly golden brown in color.)

Now add 2 cups cream, half and half, or milk. You could mix half cream and half skim milk too, that works. On low heat, mix together the roux, cream, and mushrooms.

Simmer until reduced to the consistency that it will coat the back of a spoon. Sprinkle in about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg (Just enough to "track a rabbit".)

Add about 2 cups your favorite shredded cheese. For this, I have used Mozzarella, "Italian Blend" and even cheddar. Whatever I have that was on sale that week, but to keep it a "white cheese sauce" use Mozzarella or "Italian Blend". Stirring with your whisk, add about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and for a bit of tang I add about 2 tablespoons of crumbled Feta (Feta is optional, I always have because we like it on our salads.)

Your sauce is now basically ready, turn to low and keep an eye on it. When you "see the whites of their eyes" (actually it is when I hear the garage door opening signaling that Stoney is home) put the pasta of your choice (in this case Tortellini) into the boiling water and cook no longer than 5 minutes. (5 minutes is usually "al dente," cooking pasta longer doubles the glycemic index--making it the same as eating sugar to your body)

If your sauce starts to get too "stiff" you can ladle in some of the hot water from your pasta pot to thin it back down. This can be repeated as needed. When the pasta is ready drain and add to the sauce.

You have just created a magnifique pasta dish that is ready to serve.

Instead of mushrooms, you could brown ground sausage (whatever flavor you like); chicken (cubed), or green, red, and/or yellow peppers, garden veggies such as broccoli, zucchini and squash would work too.

The salad?
In true Papa Vino form, use the Simply the Best Salad Dressing, 1/8 a head of lettuce per serving, along with other fresh vegetables of your choice, such as tomatoes, onion, peppers, olives, and 2 teaspoons of Feta cheese and homemade croutons. The croutons are nothing more than stale bread that I have cubed and baked in the oven until toasted. (Added benefit to using stale bread to make croutons? it warms up the kitchen!) I don't bother seasoning the croutons...I zing them through the food processor to make meatloaf, meatballs, or other recipes. The toasted flavor adds a nice nutty background and it is cheaper than buying breadcrumbs. I store them in a ZipLock bag.

Special Occasion? Don't forget to have warm rolls, bread sticks or garlic bread!


  1. Mmm mushrooms and pasta, what's not to love? Thanks for linking up!

  2. You're welcome and thanks for visiting!