I love pasta with cheese. I don't like when cheese curdles in hot pasta. Tortellini is pasta with cheese inside, so it's so much more convenient. To make tortellini a more complete meal, I adapt my recipe for simple tomato sauce and include lots of vegetables.
Tortellini with Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 pound of carrots, diced
- 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
- 28 ounces of canned tomatoes
- 1 cup of water
- 1 package (around 10-16 ounces) frozen tortellini
- Heat a pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, carrots, and spices. Cook for around 10 minutes to soften the carrots.
- Add the canned tomatoes and water. Simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes until the carrots are tender.
- Add in the tortellini. Stirring occasionally, cook for 10-15 minutes until the tortellini is tender.
- Olive oil: Used for cooking the stew. Helps mellow out the onion and toast the spices. Any sort of oil (canola, vegetable, olive) is okay. Substituting butter would also add nice flavor.
- Onion: Required to make tomato sauce. Adds sweetness and depth. Any color onion (red, white, yellow) is okay. Milder onions, such as spring onions or shallots, would be less flavorful.
- Carrots: Improves nutritional content. Add up to 1 pound of carrots. Reduce or omit if you're less fond of carrots.
- Italian seasoning: Adds flavor. Italian seasoning consists of oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, marjoram, rosemary. I used equal parts of oregano, thyme, and basil.
- Tomatoes: Used for tomato sauce. I used 2 cans (14 ounces) of diced, unsalted canned tomatoes. Substituting a jar (24 ounces) of pasta sauce would also work.
- Water: Helps cook the tortellini. Omit and your tortellini will be less cooked. Can substitute with water. Add up to 6 cups of broth to make tortellini soup.
- Tortellini: Required to make tortellini with tomato sauce. Substituting refrigerated tortellini works but may require a shorter cook time. If substituting dried tortellini, cook separately according to package instructions, and add in at the very end. You can substitute regular pasta, but the dish will not be as tasty.
Want more vegetable variety? In general, you want about 1 pound of any vegetable. I do not suggest using more than a pound because the tortellini may not cook all the way. Here are some suggestions along with approximate cook times.
- up to 1/2 pound of frozen peas - 0 minutes
- up to 1 pound of spinach - 5 minutes
- up to 2 containers (8 ounces) of mushrooms - 10 minutes
- up to 4 small squash/zucchini - 10 minutes
- 1 bell pepper - 10 minutes
- 1 small head of broccoli - 20 minutes
Want more flavor? Here are some suggestions.
- Ground meat: Add up to 1 pound of ground meat. Cook the ground meat in the pot. Drain off the oil. Using the same pot, cook the vegetables, tomato sauce, and tortellini.
- Cooked meat: Add up to 1 pound of diced sausage or ham when the tortellini is done.
- Garlic: Cook up to 4 cloves of garlic with the onion.
- Cheese: Add to taste on top of each individual serving. About 1/2 pound total would be good for the whole recipe.
Step by Step Photos
Start by dicing up an onion. Dicing the carrots take a while, so if you'd like, you can start cooking the onion as you cut the carrots.
I use the whole 16 ounce bag of carrots, which is 8 medium carrots. I use a lot of carrots because I don't like half-finished bags of vegetables, and I'm rather fond of carrots.
Cut off the ends, and dice into small pieces. Carrots take a very long time to cook, so you should be careful when chopping them up. Alternatively, you can use a grater or food processor/blender if you'd like smaller carrot pieces.
Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot. Add in the onion, carrots, and spices. Cook for around 10 minutes to soften the carrots. Taking your time now helps prevent crunchy underdone carrots in the final dish.
Add in 28 ounces of canned tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Actually, I tried making this without adding any additional water. There wasn't enough liquid to cook the pasta, so the pasta was pretty chewy.
Continue cooking for 25-30 minutes until the carrots are tender. If in doubt, cook the sauce for longer. Sometimes, the slightly larger pieces of carrots can still be hard. To test carrots for doneness, sample a few pieces from the sauce.
Here's the tortellini I used. It's been in the freezer for the past month, which is why the date says Oct 29. I really wanted to use it up.
Add in the tortellini. If it was previously frozen, you may have to break apart the stuck together pieces. See how there is no liquid left in the pot? As a result, my tortellini did not cook completely.
If you added the water earlier, the tortellini will take about 10-15 minutes to cook. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the tortellini is tender. As a warning, the tortellini may fall apart a bit. If you care about this, cook the tortellini separately.
Serve immediately. Adding more cheese on top would be delicious. This recipe for tortellini with tomato sauce makes about 4 servings of 400 calories each.