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Cooking the Book: Tortellini with Crispy Prosciutto and Spring Vegetables

2012 January 19
by Gayle

Yes, I know it is January in DC. And yes, I usually try to make things that are in season and come from the farmer’s market and all that jazz. But Mr. Kitchenette likes fennel and it looked good at the store. Plus, it was 60 degrees here so why not pretend it’s spring?


The Good

Who doesn’t love a one pan meal? And it’s not even a stir fry.

My favorite thing about this dinner, other than it being easy to make and clean up, is that it’s creamy without consuming more than 1/4 cup of cream (between two people). No roux, no elaborate cream sauce construction, just a little creamy. Very nice and not as guilt-enducing as the cream/butter/cheese combo that is Alfredo sauce.

A close second is nice variety of flavors and textures you get all in one bite between the sauce, pasta and vegetables. Downright refreshing. Though I haven’t tried it, I would bet you could do this up vegetarian using vegetable broth and leaving off the prosciutto (though for me, leaving off with any cured pork product is profoundly difficult).

The Bad

High-quality tortellini is a must. This is discussed in the recipe’s intro but mostly in the context of dried tortellini being pretty gross and fresh rating marginally better than frozen by taste-testers. We did use fresh, but note that “fresh” doesn’t always mean “good.” There are plenty of mediocre fresh pastas out there and the package from our neighborhood Harris Teeter was one one them. It didn’t render the dish inedible or anything, but they were kind of a disappointment. We made note for next time; don’t make the same mistake we did and try the Butoni pictured in the cookbook.

The Leftovers

None! We probably could have gotten the whole skilletfull on two large plates, but I was too busy trying to take pretty pictures.


Tortellini with Crispy Prosciutto and Spring Vegetables

from Cooking for Two, 2011

Serves 2


4 think slices prosciutto (about 1 oz.), cut into 1/4-ich pieces

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small fennel bulb (about 8 oz.), trimmed of stalks, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 (9-oz.) package fresh cheese tortellini

3 oz. baby spinach (about 3 cups)

1/2 frozen peas

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper


Cook prosciutto in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium head until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer prosciutto to paper towel-lined plate and reserve for serving.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Stir in fennel and cook until browned, 6 to 9 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in broth and tortellini and bring to rapid simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring often, until tortellini is tender and sauce is thickened, 6 to 9 minutes.

Stir in spinach, peas and cream and cook over low heat, stirring gently but constantly, until spinach is wilted and tortellini is coated with sauce, 2 to 3 minutes.

Off heat, stir in Parmesan and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle individual portions with crisped prosciutto and serve with extra Parmesan.

One Response leave one →
  1. Cat permalink
    September 16, 2014

    I have used different kinds of heavy cream and heavy cream substitutes, but it does not thicken. I have read that the heavy cream in the US is too pasteurized for some recipes. Is this the case or am I doing something wrong?

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