Tortellini alla Panna

Way back in the 80s when I went to college in Rome (Italy), rather than having class in a traditional classroom, we studied on site at famous places like the Colosseum or the Imperial Forum. Then we’d break for lunch to eat a local trattoria.

My husband – who was then my fiancé – would often choose this rich dish, made with cheese tortellini, pancetta, and peas. I’ve Americanized this version, but it retains much of the authentic Italian flavor. Buon appetito!


Tortellini alla Panna

  • 1 20-ounce package cheese tortellini
  • 1 12-ounce package thick-sliced bacon
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • a little milk, if necessary
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add tortellini, and boil until tender (they will float to the surface). Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, cut the bacon into 2-inch-long strips and fry in a Dutch oven. When cooked through, remove and drain.

Wipe the bacon fat out of the Dutch oven and add the butter. When melted, stir in the flour and then slowly add the cream. Stir to thicken the sauce, being careful not to let the cream burn on the bottom of the pan.

When sauce is warm, add in tortellini, bacon strips, peas, and parmesan cheese. Stir to blend. Add a little milk if sauce is too thick. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to bowls, top with additional parmesan cheese, and serve hot.


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