Cheese tortellini with broccoli, tomatoes, and garlic



This is another “Take Five” recipe and the five are:*

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lb broccoli cut into florets
  • 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 lb frozen cheese tortellini
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

Sigh.  Here we have yet one more Everyday Food recipe for pasta with no sauce.  It’s not offensive.  It’s just not terribly interesting.  It’s just cheese tortellini with tomato bits, broccoli, and a little garlic action.  But what it lacks in interest, it makes up for in being super easy to make.  Sauté the garlic and the broccoli in the butter.  Boil the tortellini.  Toss the pasta with the garlic, broccoli, and tomatoes.  Something about reserved pasta water (over it).

*All recipe information adapted from Everyday Food issue #47 p. 140 November 2007 (not that you couldn’t have figured out how to make this from the picture.  I mean, really)

In Case You’ve Ever Wondered What 10 lbs of Tomatoes Looks Like…

Fresh Tomato Sauce

September 2007, pg. 44

So many tomatoes, surrounded by some truly massive kale leaves.

So many tomatoes, surrounded by some truly massive kale leaves.

Needless to say, this recipe was one that we struggled to get to.  Not because it wasn’t something that sounded delicious, but because it required 10 lbs of fresh ripe tomatoes.  This, of course, would be perfect if either of us had a garden and all of our tomatoes were ripening at the same moment.  However, neither G nor I have the luxury of what you could really call a yard.  And so, we were at the mercy of the supermarket or farm stands (I don’t think they have many farm stands in the city where G lives…).  The Bear I live with and I went to see his mother who has access to a truly impressive variety of farm stands and bought a bushel of sauce tomatoes for some insanely low price!  She stocked us up for next to nothing with beautiful red tomatoes.  And finally, I could take on the daunting task of making this sauce.

The other issue I encountered with this recipe is the size of my kitchen.

This kitchen is nothing to joke about.

This kitchen is nothing to joke about.

Not only do I have next to no counter space, I have nowhere near the amount of cupboard space needed to store my admittedly excessive supply of cookware and kitchen accessories.  I have had to rig out an armoire to hold my larger pots/pans and all my tupperware, and took over the coat closet to make a makeshift pantry which also holds my food processor and kitchen aid, as well as a number of baking dishes.

Ideally, I would have had a nice big island with a range so I could have set up a processing area.  The tomatoes could have gone straight from boiling water to ice bath to sheet pan to cool.  Then next to that I would have had a garbage bowl for all the skins and seeds, next to a cutting board, next to a giant bowl to hold all the tomato “meat” before it is returned to the pot with the onions and garlic.  Alas!  I don’t even want to tell you what my situation looked like but it wasn’t pretty.  I think I was just lucky that most of the tomatoes didn’t end up on the floor.

When it actually came down to the recipe the only major alteration I made was adding extra garlic.  The recipe called for 6 cloves. I did 10.  It was good.  It was actually really good.  And if not for the whole ordeal leading up to eating it, I would probably make it again.  I do think you could make a similar taste by using whole canned tomatoes.


I served that wily sauce with thin spaghetti as recommended in the issue and I also did a quick chicken breast with some of the sauce and a couple slices of fresh mozzarella to make a fry-less chicken parmesan.  It was a really satisfying dinner.  And it felt quite healthy and wholesome.  I sort of wish the process had made more sauce than it did, because after saucing a lb of pasta and my chicken I was only left with about 2 cups so there wasn’t really enough to “put by” in the old fashioned sense.  If I do someday end up with an excess of tomatoes, I’ll know what to do with it.  And hopefully I will have a better kitchen by then!