Remember when I said my husband came with a dowry, and that part of that dowry was a very nice cookbook collection? This recipe is slightly adapted from one of those cookbooks, called Dad's Own Bookbook by Bob Sloan. This book is full of fantastic recipes that are broken down into baby steps so even a novice cook can prepare great food. Besides delicious recipes, it also has lots of very useful information about different foods, meats, timetables, etc. If I was going to buy a cookbook for someone just starting out, this would definitely be on the short list.
I've made this slightly adapted version of his Chicken Tortellini in Tomato-Cream sauce several times (once I even used it as a main dish for a dinner I prepared for over 50 people, and it was perfect). It's just slightly adapted in that I use cheese tortellini instead of chicken tortellini, I use half and half instead of heavy cream, I use bacon instead of prosciutto, and I quadruple the ingredients because its original proportions are for a dinner for two. OK, maybe that's more than "just slightly adapted", but I don't really feel like I've reinvented the dish. This recipe is fantastically easy and fast, and very hard to get wrong.
Cheese Tortellini in Tomato-Cream Sauce (slightly adapted from Dad's Own Cookbook)
20-oz pkg fresh cheese tortellini
4 slices thick bacon, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
white pepper to taste
freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
chopped fresh parsley, optional
1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling, and cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid, and return the tortellini to the cooking pot.
2. While tortellini is cooking, heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
3. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the tomatoes with the half and half, and mix well. Add the mixture and the rest of the crushed tomatoes to the skillet and bring to a high simmer over medium-high heat.
4. Add the peas, salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce to the tortellini and stir gently to combine. Add a little bit of the reserved pasta cooking liquid if the sauce is thicker than you want. Serve with shredded Parmesan and chopped parsley, if desired.
Makes 4-6 servings.