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Monday, April 25, 2011

Recipe for Prosciutto Wrapped Pesto Tortellini with Asparagus

Ah, Italy.  The wine, the beautiful people, the amazing scenery and of course, the food.   This little appetizer was inspired by thoughts of Italy and of spring.  The fresh, local asparagus is heavenly tucked inside prosciutto with a nice surprise of soft pillows of cheese tortellini bathed in pesto…am I making you hungry?

Tortellini isn’t something I usually go for in the grocery store but Foodbuzz and Barilla are inviting food bloggers to submit recipe ideas.  I love challenges so I thought I’d give it a go.  Generally, I see tortellini served in a tomato based sauce, in broth, or as part of a pasta salad.  I wanted to do something different and since I’ve confessed before my love for all things bite sized, I thought I’d see if I could use the little cheesy pasta in an appetizer.

So, I bought a packet of Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini.  Now what?  I was wandering around the store looking for inspiration, and the other shoppers probably thought I’d lost my marbles because I’m pretty sure I was talking to myself, picking up random items, staring off into space and shaking my head. 

As I mentioned in the opening to this post, my thoughts were of Italy and spring so when I walked around the produce section and saw some more of the fresh local Maui asparagus I bought a week ago, bells started ringing.  Asparagus, especially the skinny spears just barely steamed, really taste like spring to me.  I was trying to imagine how the tortellini and asparagus could co-exist in an appetizer…thread the tortellini on the asparagus stems??   Ah, no. 

So, wrap them up somehow together….puff pastry?  Seemed like too much with the pasta.  I kept wandering and came around to the deli.  Ah, yes.  Prosciutto wrapped around anything is delicious so I stopped mumbling to myself, ordered some thinly sliced prosciutto and headed home.

Outside on the lanai I had some basil growing which I thought would be nice to add in.  I had visions of chopping it up and sprinkling it over the pasta then realized I had some of my homemade pesto in the freezer which I decided would be wonderful to toss the pasta in.    So here’s how it goes together…

Ingredients for 12 bundles, enough for 4 people:
4 thin slices of prosciutto di Parma
30 or so pieces of Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini (a few more than you need in case some fall apart)
2 TBSP pesto
24 thin asparagus spears
Toothpicks or bamboo picks for serving
Basil leaves for decoration

Cook tortellini according to package directions. 
While tortellini are cooking, separate each slice of prosciutto into 3 approximately equal pieces, at least as wide as two tortellini and several inches long.
Steam asparagus spears until just barely cooked, you still want a bit of crunch.  I steamed mine right on top of the cooking pasta.

Run under cool water to stop cooking.  Trim to desired (bite sized) length.

Drain tortellini when cooked and gently toss with pesto.  Preheat broiler.

Place two spears of asparagus on edge of a piece of prosciutto and top with two tortellini. 

Wrap up and place on a rack on a baking sheet. 
Repeat with other ingredients until all bundles are made.

Place under broiler for 3 minutes.  Remove and let cool briefly. 
Pierce with toothpicks or bamboo picks for serving.

They are tasty warm and also just as good room temperature, so they could be made a little ahead of serving time. 

Buon appetito!

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