Saturday, 5 October 2013

Italian Comfort Food: Tortellini in Brodo

A child sized portion for 10 year old recovering from hip surgery
As Autumn draws in I start adding tortellini (or cappelletti as some supermarkets call them) to my weekly shopping list.

Tortellini in Brodo, which simply means tortellini served in a consomme or thin broth, was something my mother began serving my twin brother and I as quick comfort food when we lived in Italy as children.  On our return to England in the 1980s I recall being able to buy packs of dried tortellini in UK supermarkets, and these and a pack of stock cubes served me well through my student days and on into my first house.  My brother, a student in far flung St Andrews University, splashed out and improved our emergency rations by adding a splash of wine and a bay leaf.  Something I now do too.

Nowadays, however, I cannot find dried tortellini.  So instead I buy the packs in the chilled aisles made with fresh pasta.  And don't be tempted by the tasty sounding vegetarian fillings.  For 100% comfort you will need meat!

Serves 4 as a light lunch

300g bag of meat filled tortellini/cappelletti
1 chicken stock cube
1/2 glass white wine
1 bay leaf
Grated parmesan or cheddar

Pour 500ml of just boiled water into a saucepan.  Dissolve in the stock cube.  I dice this finely to help avoid salty lumps sticking to the tortellini. When dissolved add the wine (you can use red, it just makes the stock an odd grubby colour but it doesn't phase my kids) and bring to a boil.  Then add the tortellini and bay leaf.

Simmer gently with a lid on for the recommended cooking time (the packs I buy only need 5 minutes cooking).  Serve with a ladleful of stock and a sprinkling of cheese.  Just beware if young children are feeding themselves that the inside of these pasta parcels stays piping hot for a surprisingly long time.  When my children were younger and too hasty I used to cut the tortellini in half in part to stop them scalding the insides of their mouths, and to make it less of a giant mouthful for tiny mouths.

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