Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13: Crab Rangoon Day and Tortellini Day

Crab Rangoon Day

You might've had these at a Chinese restaurant.  They're the deep-fried dumplings consisting of cream cheese, crab meat, and some vegetables (typically onions, scallions, or water chestnuts) encased in a wonton wrapper.  I really don't think they're "authentic" Chinese food, as they contain cream cheese, so I'm guessing that it's more of an American-Chinese food.  Still, they're quite popular in Chinese restaurants and they're super easy to make

Tortellini Day

When I have pasta, it tends to be spaghetti.  Sometimes I'll have the spiral pasta or the tube-y pasta.  See?  I told you I don't eat pasta very often - I can't identify pasta.  Oh, if someone put pasta shapes in front of me and told me to identify them, I'd eventually get most of them because I've heard the names- I'm just not sure what shapes the names are attached to.

So I asked around about tortellini.  I got some interesting descriptions, some of which were most definitely not suitable for this family-friendly site.  The safest, best description of tortellini I got was "pasta rings stuffed with cheese."  In fact, tortellini can be stuffed with meat or cheese.  When stuffed with vegetables, it's tortelloni.

While there are plenty of instructions online for making fresh tortellini and Alton Brown has a recipe available, I opted to buy a pack of frozen cheese tortellini - I just don't have the time to make fresh tortellini from scratch today.  Chowhound has a short thread discussing store-bought tortellini and the two big ready-made brands I'm aware of are Barilla and Buitoni.  Still, I went with the storebrand because of cost and because if I like it, I'll start trying the different brands.

I looked around at recipes online in an attempt at trying to decide how I'd use the tortellini.  There are plenty of soup recipes that use tortellini, like this Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup.  There are also plenty of salad recipes, like this Hot Tortellini Salad.  You can even use tortellini to make a Mexican Pasta Salad.

Inspired by all the recipes I looked at, I created my own salad.  I cooked the entire bag of frozen tortellini according to the instructions on the bag.  While that was cooking, I put a bowl of fresh kale (torn into bite sized pieces) in the microwave for one minute.  Then, a can of light-red beans- poured into a microwave safe bowl, of course.  (I just wanted to make that clear, so that no one tries sticking a can of beans in a microwave.)  I chopped up two sundried tomatoes.  Then, when the pasta was done and drained, I mixed about a cup of the tortellini, 1/4 cup of the beans, the kale (probably a cup to 1.5 cups), and the tomatoes.  After drizzling a little bit of the oil from the sundried tomatoes and sprinkling some crushed red pepper on top, I think I came up with a tasty tortellini salad.  Hrm... I think I'll call it the (Almost) Complete Tortellini salad because it had something from 4 of the 5 food groups.  Although, I could argue tomatoes are a fruit...hrm..  Well, it's a vegetarian friendly recipe, but not vegan. 

Since I didn't use all the tortellini, my roommate ate some in a much simpler dish.  She took some pumpkin pasta sauce that she bought at Williams-Sonoma, heated it up, and poured it over the tortellini.  A little sprinkle of parmesan and her dinner was ready to go. I'm not a big fan of pumpkin, so pumpkin pasta sauce isn't really for me.  I'll have to try tortellini with some of my tomato-based pasta sauce.

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