When our readers ask us for the most simple, unfussy, delicious 15-minute meal, we always recommend this tortellini alla panna recipe.
Tortellini is on just about every corner in Bologna, Italy, and it’s one of the very best foods you can enjoy from this historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Handmade by Sfogline (literally translated as “pasta ladies”), you can purchase tortellini in grocery stores, pasta shops, and of course restaurants.
Tortellini is enjoyed in a myriad of ways in Bologna, oftentimes covered in a bolognese sauce, with tomato sauce and fresh basil, or most traditionally in broth. But the most comforting, rich tortellini dish of all, is tortellini alla panna– tortellini tossed in a rich, homemade cream sauce.
We enjoyed this particular dish at two fantastic restaurants in Bologna (see our guide to the 15 best restaurants in Bologna) including Oltre and Bottega Portici. It’s a simple dish composed of tortellini and a delightfully savory cream sauce. And the best part is that you can make this dish at home within minutes.
How to Make Tortellini Alla Panna
Tortellini alla panna is one of the easiest pasta dishes you will ever make. First, cook your tortellini in generously salted boiling water. While the pasta is cooking bring your butter and heavy cream to a simmer. After the tortellini is finished cooking, simply add it to your butter and cream mixture with some finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (grate your own and skip the pre-grated stuff– we promise it will taste better!). Don’t forget to add enough salt to this dish– there’s nothing worse than an under-seasoned pasta dish! Serve and devour while hot.
What Kind Of Tortellini Should I Buy?
First and foremost, make sure you buy fresh tortellini for the best results. We love the cheese tortellini from Trader Joe’s but you can prepare this recipe with whatever tortellini is available to you at your grocery store or (better yet) European or Italian Market. The three main kinds of tortellini that you’ll find are cheese, spinach, or authentic, meat-filled tortellini like you’d see in Bologna made with pork, mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. All work great for this recipe and can be used interchangeably. Happy cooking!
Tortellini Alla Panna
- 16-20 ounces fresh, uncooked tortellini
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and generously salt with kosher salt. Cook tortellini in boiling water until al dente (oftentimes a minute or two below package instructions). Once finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside, and strain the pasta.
- While tortellini is cooking heat the butter and heavy cream over medium heat in a dutch oven or nonstick skillet, until mixture is bubbly and reaches a gentle simmer. Add a pinch or two of salt and a few cranks of fresh cracked pepper and remove from heat.
- Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and cooked tortellini to the butter and cream mixture and fold together gently. If the mixture is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water (start with about 1/4 cup) and fold into sauce and pasta until incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately with additional parm and pepper as desired.