I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations lately. I don’t mean societal expectations on a grand scale, what I have been thinking about are the expectations that I have of myself. These expectations fall short of my reality and I am shockingly unkind to myself about it. I don’t aspire to be June Cleaver keeping a perfect home but I am picky about meals. I also only really want to cook when I’m in a good mood which doesn’t happen very often. My son rejoices when I pull out the box of chicken fingers from the freezer or, better yet, I pull out the box of macaroni and cheese from the pantry.
When it comes to meals that I’m pleased about, I expect a lot from myself. This has changed and evolved over time as I have really learned how to cook.
I don’t remember when exactly I moved away from happily making dinner with a jar of tomato sauce or some pre-seasoned chicken breasts. I drifted away from the convenience and relaxed way I mixed the quick and easy meals with the more complicated and creative dinners I enjoy coming up with. For so many reasons I have been trying to relax and welcome back the chicken finger without some ridiculous sense of inferiority.
During university I was a frequent visitor to East Side Mario’s and I loved the Cheese Cappelletti they had. I attempted my own version a few years ago and I documented the effort as one of my very first blog posts. It has remained one of my most popular recipes despite the terrible photograph that used to grace the post. I have since updated the photograph just like I have now updated how I make what I call Cheese Cappelletti. This is where I am now with my cooking but if you are looking for a quick and easy way to make a baked pasta dish then have a look at my Cheese Cappelletti – The Easy Way recipe and circle back around here when you are ready.
In between the take-out dinners and store-bought meals, I relish the times I have the energy and inclination to cook. I enjoy the process of prepping the ingredients and combining them to slowly build up the flavours you are hoping for in the end result. When I make this new cheese cappelletti, the scent of the onions and garlic sautéing in the olive oil and then the sizzling splash of wine goes in to add another layer give me pleasure. Then in goes the strained tomatoes and the sauce has really started to come together. Sprinkling the herbs in makes me feel like I’m making some sort of potion. I finish the sauce with the mesmerizing action of stirring in the cream and goat cheese and watching it melt into the sauce as it turns a shade of pink.
You could just mix in some freshly boiled tortellini and call it a day but adding a layer of mozzarella and baking it in the oven gives you something else to look forward to when you dig in. Breaking through that layer of golden, bubbly cheese is what baked pasta lovers, like me, love the most.
I will dream about when I can make this updated Cheese Cappelletti again, but today, it’s drive-thru for dinner.
Yields 6-8 servings
Cheese tortellini baked in a tomato and goat cheese rosé sauce with a layer of melted mozzarella on top. It will be an instant family favourite.
15 minPrep Time
40 minCook Time
55 minTotal Time
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- small onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 680 gram jar passata (strained tomatoes or use canned crushed tomatoes)
- 1/4 water (optional)
- 140 grams goat's cheese (a standard small log)
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 450 grams cheese tortellini
- 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425F
- Heat a large pot or a large skillet with a lid over a medium heat and add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook it for 3-4 minutes or until is is softened.
- Add the dried oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Stir it for a moment with a spatula and then add the red wine to deglaze the pan.
- Pour in the jar of passata (or crushed tomatoes). Use about a 1/4 cup of water to loosen any tomato puree that is stuck in the jar and pour that in the pan as well. This will give you a loose sauce that will get absorbed into the tortellini when it is baked.
- Put the lid on the pan or pot and let the sauce simmer for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the sauce doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pan.
- After the sauce has cooked for about 5 minutes, crumble in the goat cheese and stir to melt the cheese into the tomato sauce. When that has been fully incorporated, pour in the cream.
- Keep the sauce on a low heat while you boil a large pot of water for the pasta. Stir the sauce often to make sure it isn't scorching on the bottom.
- Dump in the cheese tortellini into the boiling water (carefully) and let the pasta boil for 4 minutes. They should be underdone because they will continue to cook in the sauce. Scoop out the tortellini using a slotted spoon and put them in the sauce. It is ok if some of the water from the pasta gets in the sauce because it will help keep the sauce nice and loose. If your pot is not large enough to hold the sauce and the pasta then use a large bowl to mix the sauce and tortellini together before transferring it all to a casserole dish.
- Pour the tortellini and sauce into a large casserole dish and spread the shredded mozzarella evenly over it all.
- Bake at 425 F for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted, bubbly and starting to brown slightly.