Tortellini with Parmesan Zabaglione
Most people from Bologna and the surrounding region agree that the best way to serve tortellini is in brodo, or “in broth.” However there are other ways to prepare this pasta specialty that are also considered acceptable, including tortellini alla panna (tortellini with cream) and tortellini con burro e oro (tortellini with tomato and butter sauce). Of all the ways to serve tortellini, there is one in paritcular I find absolutely delightful. It’s called tortellini allo zabaione di Parmigiano– tortellini with a creamy parmesan egg-yolk sauce.
I first enjoyed this dish at a restaurant in Bologna called Sfoglia Rina. It’s a little pasta cafe, where you can not only enjoy an array of traditional and contemporary pasta dishes– many of which are inspired by the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna – but also buy fresh pasta to take home and cook. It’s a casual, somewhat contemporary little spot that’s perfect for lunch.
Since having my first taste of tortellini allo zabaione di Parmigiano, I’ve dreamt of re-creating this dish at home. I had some leftover tortellini in my freezer from the Christmas holidays and thought this would be a great dish to use them in!
The preparation is simple, although you will need to have prepped your tortellini and homemade meat broth in advance. While you can use store-bought tortellini, I think that the homemade kind, filled with the traditional Bolognesi filling of various types of pork and cheese, is the best. For the meat broth, homemade really is the only way to go here. I recommend Tina’s Table Homemade Italian Meat Broth recipe – just omit the tomato for this preparation.
Bolognesi believe that the only way to cook tortellini is in broth. This is because the broth imparts more flavor to the tortellini, giving them a richer and more distinct taste. I’ve tried boiling my tortellini in water as well as store-bought both before and neither method compares to that of homemade broth.
Zabaglione is most often associated with the sweet stuff: egg yolks whipped together with sugar and marsala wine. Throughout Emilia-Romagna, this kind of zabaglione (also called ‘zabaione’) is used in a traditional trifle dessert called Zuppa Inglese. Here we are preparing a savory zabaglione, tempering together egg yolks, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a touch of cream to form a luscious, golden sauce. The end result is not unlike the beloved cacio e pepe or carbonara: it’s creamy, cheesy, and comforting.
Tortellini with Parmesan Zabaglione
Prep time: 5 Minutes
Cook time: 10 Minutes
1 batch of homemade tortellini bolognesi (or any other tortellini you like, homemade is best!)
1 batch of homemade Italian meat broth
4 egg yolks (1 per person)
125 grams finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, preferably aged 30-months
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
A dash of nutmeg
Bring the broth to a boil.
Lightly whip egg yolks. Add freshly grated Parmigiano (make sure it is very finely grated so the cheese melts evenly) and heavy cream.
Set your bowl over the broth to gently heat. Add a little bit of broth to thin out the sauce (a small ladleful to start, add more if the sauce seems too thick). Stir until the sauce is smooth and cheese has dissolved. It should be thick, like a bechamel sauce.
Cook tortellini in boiling broth until done. Transfer directly to the zabaglione sauce. Use a silicone or wooden spoon to gently stir until all the tortellini are coated in the sauce.
Warm up your serving bowl by adding a little broth to it. This will keep the sauce from congealing too quickly once served. Wipe out your serving bowl, transfer the tortellini to the bowl, and serve with freshly grated Parmigiano.