Any dish with the word “parmesan” is fantastic in my book. When I was a kid, and I still ate meat, I loved cheesy chicken parmesan. Then, when I became a vegetarian at age 14, I discovered the magical dish that is eggplant parmesan. My mother and I pretty much discovered the best recipe of all time for that.
I’ve also seen people make zucchini parmesan, and just about any “- parmesan” you can imagine. But what I had never seen before was what my Valentine suggested making for our Valentine’s dinner on Saturday: Baked Tortellini Parmesan.
I was skeptical – would it be too rich? That’s a lot of cheese and pasta. But then again, aren’t those two things that I love? I figured we might as well give it a go. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Valentine’s Day then making a pan of bubbly, cheese-filled goodness with my favorite person.
I’ll be honest that this dish is a tad time-consuming, only because it takes a while to fry all of the tortellini. And you might find yourself having to fry a few more tortellini than you imagined if you can’t keep your hands off them as they come out of the pan. Did I eat more tortellini while frying or in the actual dish? I think it was close.
All that aside, this Baked Tortellini Parmesan was well-worth the elbow grease we put into it. It was everything I love about an incredible “-parmesan” dish, made even better with delectable little tortellini. There was endless melty, gooey cheese with a trio of fresh mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan. Then an easy but absolutely incredible homemade marinara sauce covers every crisp, breaded tortellini.
Although this dish was indulgent, it somehow wasn’t too rich. There was the right amount of everything. You could taste the good-quality ingredients of fresh cheeses and herbs, and the homemade sauce really packed a punch.
This was a really special meal, and I would definitely make it again. Don’t limit yourself to chicken and eggplant when it comes to parmesan; tortellini is the way to go.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- You can make this with one person, but it will go much faster if you make it a two-person effort. Have one person bread the tortellini while the other person fries.
- Make the sauce the day before to save you some trouble the next day when you’re ready to make this for dinner.
- You can even assemble the whole thing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.
- Fresh herbs and a homemade sauce are a must. You won’t believe the difference it makes, and you’re just not living if you’re eating sauce from a jar.
- This sauce is versatile and would be delicious on pasta, or in any kind of casserole.
Baked Tortellini Parmesan
By The Smart Cookie Cook
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 20 oz. fresh tortellini
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, divided
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 large fresh tomato, roughly chopped
- 1 28-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 7-oz. can tomato paste
- 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 20 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 1 lb. provolone cheese, sliced
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Line a large tray with paper towels. Set aside.
- In a large, deep skillet, bring oil to medium heat.
- Meanwhile, place half the flour in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and egg. Place half the breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
- Bread the tortellini by dropping in the flour, then the milk mixture, and lastly, the breadcrumbs. Make sure to completely cover the tortellini with each layer. To repeat, flour – milk – breadcrumbs.
- Drop breaded tortellini into hot oil. It should sizzle. If not, you need to let the oil heat longer. Fry tortellini on both sides until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer finished tortellini to prepared tray and allow the paper towels to absorb any extra grease.
- To make the sauce, bring oil to medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, and fresh tomato and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Stir in canned tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and basil and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender to smooth out sauce, pureeing all of the chunks. Stir in salt, pepper, and sugar.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread a thin base layer of sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle half the fried tortellini on the bottom. Cover with an even layer of half the sauce. Lay half of the mozzarella cheese slices out in a single layer, followed by all of the provolone slices and half of the parmesan. Cover with the rest of the tortellini, followed by the rest of the sauce, and the rest of the cheese. To repeat, it’s: base layer of sauce, tortellini, sauce, cheese; tortellini, sauce, cheese.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling, and a knife inserted in the center feels hot to the touch. Enjoy.