Sunday, October 11, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Tortellini with Tomato, Leeks, and Chili

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved.

I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Italy last month and experience some of the greatest food spectacles in the world at the World Food Expo in Milan. In between that time, I also got to spend time in what instantly became one of my favorite food cities in the world: Bologna. Located next to major food cities like Modena (balsamic vinegar), Parma (prosciutto and parmesean cheese), and Emilio Reggia (Parmigiano Reggiano), Bologna (who is no slouch either as the birthplace of mortadella) has a lot of great, local food. From the eating experiences I had in Bologna, one of the key things I learned is that the chefs there prefer simple, clean, and fresh cooking over complex flavors and a bucketload of spices.

While my cooking style does rely on more spices than the traditional Italian style, I wanted to take on this clean style of cooking because of how fresh and amazing it tasted. Using some tortellini I brought back from Italy (but you can use fresh or dried tortellini from here to desired effect), I made a sauce to go with it that is simple with less than 10 ingredients! Using fresh ingredients over anything that comes out of a can or jar definitely makes a huge difference as well to the final dish, so I made sure that everything (with the exception of chili flake) was fresh. The result is a dish with clean flavors that harmonizes together perfectly! 

Recipe serves 6 people.


2 packages tortellini
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 leek, finely chopped
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried chili flake
Salt and pepper to season
Fresh Basil and Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish


1) Cook the tortellini according to package directions in salted boiling water.

2) Add the olive oil to a saute pan on medium-high heat. Add in the garlic, and cook for a minute.

3) Add in the chopped leek, chili flake, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine, and cook until the leeks soften, about 2-3 minutes.

4) Add in the chopped tomatoes, and stir through for 30 seconds. Drain the tortellini, and stir into the sauce.

5) Combine for about a minute, then plate. Garnish with fresh chopped basil, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and cracked black pepper.

This dish is very simple, but each element is crucial into making a perfectly balanced dish. The tortellini is cheesy and rich, which is balanced by the acid of the tomato and the heat of the black pepper and chili. The sweetness of the leek helps balance out the acid as well, as does the aroma of the garlic. Overall, each of the simple flavors can be tasted and combines into a beautifully composed dish!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

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