Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Zen of Tortellini.

A favorite movie quote comes from 1984’s “Dune”, featuring Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Sting and more too numerous to mention; “Fear is the mind killer”.  Fear keeps us from completing goals, beginning new tasks, exploring the unknown, jumping head first into dangerous situations (that’s a good thing though).  However, if fear kills the mind, stress goes after the entire body inside and out.  It ages the skin, elevates blood sugar and pressure, leads to eating disorders and causes various organ diseases.  These two factors, stress and fear, are partners in crime as they both lead to unhealthy, unhappy lives.

Stress and fear appear in disguises; they slink into your life, and as Chef Emeril Lagasse would say, as he spices up a recipe, “Bam!!!” they destroy you.  I have to admit that I don’t like his recipes much; just seem to have too many ingredients and steps to the final result.  Very rarely do any of my personal recipes have many ingredients and/or steps, and that’s mainly due to my own lack of patience.  Actually, I’m much better at being patient than in earlier days, and that has attributed to helping to bring my stress level down.  Take a deep breath and count to ten, or more if needed; smile and nod; imagine yourself in a happier, quieter place…yes, these techniques all work a lot better now.  Not perfect, just better.

In cooking, I have, more and more, turned away from using premade, packaged meals; and found easier, tastier ways to make them from scratch.  Better for health to get away from all those preservatives and additives, and lots better for the ego, “Hey, look what I made!”  Yes, better seems to be the catch word for now; not perfect, just better.  Some recipes, that started out as just a side dish, found their way to becoming a meal of their own.  Just an additional ingredient here or there, or different technique; nothing long drawn, seems to make the difference.


A favorite pasta of mine is Tortellini; little pasta rings filled with cheese, spinach, chicken, just about anything nowadays; the larger version is referred to as Tortelloni.  It comes dried, frozen, and fresh; packages small enough to take up very little storage space in the freezer or pantry.  This pasta can be served with virtually any type of sauce, in soups, salads, as a side dish, or a main meal; you can’t go wrong with it.  If you haven’t tried it yet, give yourself a little taste adventure; play with ingredients to add with it.  Have fun playing in the kitchen, create something unique, smile and see how much better you feel.  Not perfect, just better…for now.

Simple Tortellini Salad


1 (16 oz.) package tortellini  
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried Italian herb mix
4 Tbsp. Vidalia sweet onion relish (jarred or fresh made)


Cook tortellini according to package directions.

Place cooked tortellini into large bowl; add remaining ingredients and mix together gently so as to not break up the pasta.

Makes 4-6 servings; can be served warm or cold.

Or, for the more adventurous:

Tortellini Salad


2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ lb. asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp. (packed in oil) sundried tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram (if not available, use dried)
Dash each of sea salt and ground black pepper
1 lb. tortellini, cooked


In a large skillet, heat oil on high; sauté asparagus spears, mushrooms and tomatoes for 7 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, add in vinegar and garlic; let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add in marjoram, salt, pepper and tortellini; toss gently to coat and remove to serving dish.

Makes 4-6 servings; can be served warm or cold.
Mary Cokenour

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