I’ve never been a huge pasta fan, but when we traveled to Italy for an Army soccer tournament, I quickly changed my mind. The outdoor café with the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the background and a robust glass of Chianti provided the perfect atmosphere for my Italian culinary journey. The pasta was a perfect texture, not too chewy or thick. Just fresh and simple. The sauce wasn’t heavy with cream or globs of tomato paste. It was garden fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil with locally-made olive oil. If I could have licked the plate clean without looking like an American tourist, I just might have. And it wasn’t just that restaurant. We sampled similarly amazing pasta dishes in Florence near the Statue of David and in Rome outside the Colosseum.
When I got back home to Belgium, I had to figure out how to recreate this wonderful dish. Fortunately, we had a good friend who was Italian. He gave us a bottle of his brother’s homemade Italian Olive Oil and an authentic Italian pasta maker. Now, pasta is one of my go to entrees.
However, I realize not everyone has the time or equipment to make fresh pasta, so I’ve come up with this recipe, which can be frozen and easily adapted. If you serve it with a glass of Chianti and eat outside on your own patio, you, too, can create your own Italian culinary journey.
- 10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach
- 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. ground pepper
- ½ tsp. Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
- 1 package wonton wrappers (about 50 wrappers)
Thaw and drain spinach (as dry as possible). Mix with cheeses, garlic and spices. Season more if needed, to taste.
Place wonton wrapper on counter, so one point is facing you. Spoon a small amount of the ricotta mixture onto center of wonton wrapper.
Wet right and left edges of wrapper. Fold point to point and seal edges so filling stays inside.
Turn the side two corners toward the back and moisten to seal. Tuck front point under.
Place in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Drain. Place in bowl and serve with your favorite sauce or sautéed vegetables.
NOTE: To make a fresh pasta dish during the work week, place uncooked tortellinis on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, place in a ziploc bag, until ready to use. Boil for 5 minutes and serve with sauce.
OPTION: Replace spinach with 1 cup of other vegetables or meat. Just be sure the ingredient is finely chopped, so that it doesn’t puncture the wrapper.
Italian Sausage links
Red Peppers, sliced
Kosher or sea salt
Remove casing from Italian sausage links and roll into small meatballs. Brown the meatballs in a large pan over medium-high heat, until cooked through. Add onions and pepper strips and sauté until tender. Add garlic and sauté for one minute.
Gently add in cooked pasta and toss. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, salt and fresh ground black pepper. Bon Appétit!