[ Modest ] Make

Day 68: Fennel Tortellini
6 November, 2009, 12:33 pm
Filed under: main course, masterlist | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Item 19: fennel and pork tortellini with a fennel cream sauce

raw tortellini

The last time I made pasta from scratch was a good 10 years ago, in my junior high home ec class. It’s a miracle that I turned out to be a foodie consider how bad of a gong show that class—and by extension, my first exposure to cooking—was. I was partnered with a girl who was allergic to peppers, onions, dairy, shellfish, strawberries and more. While my classmates were making tacos, my partner and I essentially threw some unseasoned ground beef into a taco shell and called it a day. I also remember a boy mixing his apple crisp ingredients by hand (because … he’s a 13-year-old boy) and he and his partner ended up with a major case of food poisoning. From what I heard, he ALSO put too much cinnamon in his apple crisp. What a disastrous class.

Aside from the trauma, I also remember pasta dough being one of those messy, but easy to make things. You start with a well in the flour and crack an egg into it. Blend the egg in, add more flour if the dough was too sticky, and eventually you’ll get it right. The best part was to crank that dough through the pasta machine and roll it into thin sheets. That was fun.

I don’t have a pasta machine. I’m also not keen on getting one until my pasta consumption goes up significantly. So I just rolled it out with a rolling pin. I know the dough is not as thin as it can be had I used a pasta machine. But the end result was still very delicious.


The recipe is adapted from Anna Olsen. I scaled it back because her original recipe serves 4-6  and I don’t want to eat tortellinis for a week.

tortellini in fennel cream sauce

Difficulty: Generally easy. As I mentioned, it’d be easier to roll out the dough with a pasta maker. I’ve also had plenty of experience wrapping Chinese wontons (I used to help my mom out when I was a kid), so the wrapping part wasn’t hard either. Because of the way the tortellini is folded, it actually holds far less filling than you expected. I ended up with bout 1/2 a teaspoon of filling per tortellini.

Room for Improvement: The recipe is fine the way it is. I added in a tiny pinch of cumin because I like it. But that’s just me. I also toasted the fennel seeds right before I mixed it into the meat and the sauce.

Tastiness: Love it! The fennel cream sauce is pretty rich, but it mirrors the fennel in the tortellini perfectly. It’s actually a dish that I would serve to dinner guests. It’s a little complicated, but the tortellini can be prepared ahead of time.

Items I purchased specifically for this recipe: Fennel seeds. I’ve never cooked with fennel seeds before.


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