Tortellini is a delicious, stuffed pasta that is typically cooked by boiling. Whether your tortellini is fresh, frozen, or refrigerated, it is important to cook it carefully for the best experience with this delicious pasta!
Tortellini is so versatile! Each perfect little pocket of pasta is filled with a mixture of cheese and herbs that go perfectly with so many dishes or can be enjoyed as a tasty meal all on its own.
You can bake it in a casserole, smother it in your favorite marinara sauce, or toss it in a pasta salad–you can’t go wrong!
OK, well that’s not entirely true. If you’ve ever been the victim of hard and undercooked tortellini, soggy and overcooked, or opened and lost its delicious filling during the cooking process, you know there are plenty of ways to go wrong with tortellini.
Once you learn all the tips and tricks, boiling up a serving of tortellini will be a breeze and you will have delicious pasta to add to all your favorite pasta dishes.
Origin of Tortellini
Tortellini, a distant cousin to ravioli, was first created in either Modena or Bologna in Italy and the story of its creation is dripping with history and tradition.
Legend has it that Zeus and Venus, the God of love, checked into an inn one night, somewhere between Modena and Bologna. The innkeeper couldn’t help but notice the couple and followed them to their room to sneak another peek.
When he looked through the keyhole all he could see was the navel of Venus but it struck him with inspiration and he rushed off to the kitchen to create this culinary masterpiece–designed to look like the navel of Venus.
Tortellini was traditionally served stuffed with parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, or meat, floating in a simple broth, like this Armenian Matiabour Soup! Over the years as it has gained popularity, it has been used in various dishes.
The small size makes it a great substitution in any pasta recipe where the chef decides a bit more cheese and flavor could be added.
Since the 1950s tortellini has exploded in popularity. Now it is easy to find tortellini in just about any grocery store. It is often sold frozen, fresh, refrigerated, and dry.
How Long to Boil Tortellini
The cooking time for tortellini depends on the type of tortellini you purchase. If you bought it from the grocery store, the package of tortellini should have cooking instructions listed.
- If you purchase dried tortellini it should be boiled for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Frozen tortellini can be boiled for 4 to 6 minutes.
- Fresh pasta or homemade tortellini may only need 1-2 minutes to boil.
This quick cook time makes tortellini perfect for busy weeknights.
How to Boil Tortellini
To boil your tortellini, fill an empty pot with enough water to eventually cover the pasta. Add a generous amount of salt (a pinch of salt is not enough!) to the pot of water.
Allow the water to come to a boil then add your tortellini into the pot. Make sure to watch the clock and the temperature. You don’t want your water to boil too quickly, as this will cause the pockets to break open as they tumble around. You also don’t want to boil for too long, leaving you with soggy noodles.
Stir the hot water carefully. You want to make sure your tortellini pasta does not stick to each other but you also don’t want to stir so much that it breaks open the pockets.
Tortellini was traditionally boiled and served in broth. For even greater flavor, use beef or chicken broth instead of water.
How to Tell When Your Tortellini is Ready
You can tell your tortellini is cooked when it begins to float to the top of your pot. Remove each floating piece carefully with a slotted spoon.
When in doubt, you can always take a careful nibble of the pasta to ensure it is cooked to your liking. If it is too hard, try a slightly longer cooking time but no more than a minute or two longer.
Pasta water is a great tool for thickening sauces and may help your sauce to adhere better to the noodles. You will probably have liquid you need to drain, but it’s a good idea to always reserve just a bit of that starchy water to add to your sauce. Don’t worry about rinsing the noodles after cooking.
Tortellini is incredibly versatile. You can boil it, bake it, fry it–whatever you want. If you are making your own tortellini at home you do need to cook your noodles before enjoying them. But you can definitely choose to cook them by any method!
Tortellini makes an excellent main dish all on its own when covered with your favorite sauce, but it can also be cooked in a casserole or used in pasta salad. Serve it with some crusty bread and a fresh salad for a quick meal on a busy week night. You can get even more fancy and serve baked tortellini with artichoke hearts, meat sauce, or Italian sausage. It also makes a great addition to tomato soup.
Once cooked, you can still save tortellini to enjoy later. I would recommend sprinkling it with a bit of olive oil or pasta sauce to keep the cooked pasta from drying out. Then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Your cooked tortellini will stay good for two to three days. You can use leftover tortellini in so many different recipes!