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February 13: National Tortellini Day

3 min read

Picture New Year or Christmas celebrations in a fancy setting with party-goers sitting round a gaily festooned table consuming…a sort of soup.
However is just a tradition.
A long and glorious tradition.
In Italy, soup appears on the festive menu because it is enriched with a generous portion of tortellini, thus elevating the dish to five-star status.
National Tortellini Day is the right moment to try some of the many variations of tortellini, also in soup. They are made from thin fine pasta wrapped around delectable fillings of meat, ham or cheese, served with various sauces, or soup.
Most Italians agree its filling must include a blend of prosciutto, mortadella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Tortellini, an emblematic dish of the Bologna region of Italy, are considered more than appropriate for grand occasions, and they should be accompanied by red wine, including Lambrusco, which also originates from Emilia-Romagna region.
A strong tradition believes that this recipe was born in Castelfranco Emilia, where a tavern-keeper in Bologna glimpsed the infamous femme fatale Lucrezia Borgia’s navel while spying on her through a keyhole, prompting him to immediately reproduce vision in pasta, thus inventing tortellini.
Another similar legend originating in medieval Italy tells us about how the Roman gods Venus and Jupiter decided to spend the night in a tavern in Bologna, weary after their involvement in a battle between Bologna and Modena.
After eating, they went to their room, but the tavern keeper was so captivated by Venus’ beauty that he attempted to look at her through the door’s keyhole. As the room was dark but for a few candles, all he could see was her navel.
This vision leaves him spellbound, so much so that he immediately rushes to the kitchen and creates a pasta inspired by Venus’ navel…and so was born the Tortellini.
Maybe a little bit creepy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try tortellini, as it’s one of the best-known Italian dishes and they are really delicious.
And, in any case, now they are adored by pasta lovers all over the world.
Another story tells us that the tortellini were invented to reproduce the shape of a turtle to replicate the famous architectural features of Modena, where many 17th-century buildings refer to the turtle motif.

The best way to celebrate Tortellini day is to learn to make your own tortellini, which is not as difficult as it may seem. Roll and cut pasta dough into thin, two-inch squares, then put a small amount of filling in the center. Ricotta seasoned with black pepper and nutmeg is a popular choice that is both simple and traditional. Make a wash of egg mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water, and then brush on the edges of each square of dough. Then, fold the dough in half, making a triangle and press the edges together to seal them. To finish wrapping your tortellini, draw the points together, overlap them and press to seal into a ring shape. Done!
It is best to let them sit for an hour or so before cooking them briefly in salted water, and they can be served with a variety of sauces, including butter and sage sauce, a simple tomato sauce or even a pesto sauce.
To celebrate tortellini day, why not make a few different sauces and try them all?
If you have a bit more time on your hand, you could also experiment with various fillings….and then decide which sauce complements each filling best!

Buon Appetito!

Images from web – Google Research