Craving a heartwarming hug on a plate? Look no further than Tortellini alla Panna, a classic Italian dish that sings with the comfort of pillowy pasta and a luxuriously rich, yet simple, cream sauce.

Let’s talk comfort food! Tortellini alla Panna is creamy, cheesy pasta heaven that’s surprisingly easy to make. We’re talking just a few ingredients, no crazy steps, and a taste that’ll blow your mind.

So ditch the takeout menus, grab your fam, and get ready for this amazing Italian dish!

Close-up of tortellini alla panna.

Basic Ingredients

  • Tortellini: Fresh or frozen, your choice! Go classic with meat-filled (carne) or explore options like cheese (formaggio) or veggies like mushrooms, spinach, or pumpkin. Choose around 16-19 ounces (450-550g) to feed 4-6 people.
  • Cream: This ingredient is key for that luscious texture. In Italy we use what is called panna da cucina, in other parts of the world you can look for heavy cream or double cream. Avoid low-fat options for the best results. Use about 1-2 cups (240-480ml)
  • Peas: Frozen peas are convenient, but fresh work too! About 1 cup (150g) adds vibrant color and the right sweetness.
  • Ham: Diced ham (prosciutto cotto) adds savory depth. Use around 200g, or adjust based on preference. You can even skip it for a vegetarian option.
  • Butter: A few tablespoons (40-50g) melt into the sauce for richness and smoothness.
  • Seasonings: Salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg are all you need to elevate the flavors.
  • Cheese: Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano reggiano for the sauce and for serving.
Tortellini alla panna ingredients on a kitchen countertop.

How to Make Tortellini Alla Panna

Boil the water: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Cook the tortellini: Follow the package instructions for cooking the tortellini. Aim for slightly underdone (al dente) as they will finish cooking in the sauce. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Make the sauce: While the tortellini cook, melt the butter in a large pan or skillet over medium heat and lightly fry the ham and peas for 1-2 minutes.

Diced ham and peas slightly frying with butter in a pan.

Add cream and flavorings: Pour in the cream and add the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cream added to the pan and cooking to make the sauce.

Combine it all: Add the cooked tortellini and some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to the pan with the creamy panna sauce. 

Cooked tortellini added to the pan with the cream sauce and added parmigiano cheese on top.

Toss gently to coat everything evenly. If the sauce seems too thick, add a splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up.

Tossed tortellini with panna cream sauce in a pan.

Serve and enjoy: Remove from heat and plate the tortellini alla panna, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, and garnish with fresh cracked pepper. 

Dig in and savor the creamy goodness!

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Don’t overcook the tortellini! Aim for a slightly firm (al dente) texture as they will continue cooking in the sauce. This ensures they stay springy and don’t get mushy.
  • Reserve that starchy pasta water! If your sauce seems too thick, a splash of pasta water adds richness and helps everything bind together smoothly.
  • For a richer flavor, use vegetable broth instead of water to cook the tortellini.
  • You can substitute the ham with other cooked meats like pancetta or chicken.
  • Heavy cream is ideal, but low-fat options can work. Remember, the lower the fat, the thinner the sauce. You can thicken it slightly with a cornstarch slurry (mix 1 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp cold water) stirred in over low heat.
  • Sauteed mushrooms, spinach, or asparagus can be added to the pan with the ham for a more fulfilling and vibrant dish.

How To Serve

In Italy, Tortellini alla Panna is generally served as a primo piatto, which is the first course of a multi-course meal. It’s considered a comfort food enjoyed at home rather than a restaurant dish, although you might find it on trattoria menus in tourist areas.

Unlike in other countries, pasta dishes in Italy are rarely served with side dishes like bread or salad. They are considered complete meals in themselves.

Authentic Italian tortellini alla panna in a plate with a small bowl with parmigiano cheese on the side.

While Tortellini alla Panna is traditionally served simply in Italy, cooking is all about personal preference and enjoying food in a way that makes you happy.

There’s no culinary police out there, so feel free to experiment and serve it with whatever complements the flavors for you!

Tips For Storing

While Tortellini alla Panna is best enjoyed fresh, leftovers can be saved and enjoyed later with a few simple tips:

Storage

  • Cool it down: Let the tortellini alla panna cool completely before storing.
  • Choose the right container: Use airtight containers made of glass, BPA-free plastic, or stainless steel to avoid any transfer of odors or flavors.
  • How long?: For the best flavor, store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheating

  • Gently do it: Reheat leftovers slowly over low heat on the stovetop. This helps prevent the sauce from scorching and ensures even heating.
  • Add moisture: The sauce might thicken upon reheating. Adding a splash of milk, cream, or even pasta water can bring back its creamy texture.
  • Avoid the microwave: While it’s quicker, microwaving can unevenly heat the dish and leave the pasta rubbery. Stick to the stovetop for best results.

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Tortellini Alla Panna

4 servings
Tortellini alla panna is a classic Italian dish that consists of tortellini, usually filled with meat, served in a creamy cream sauce. It's a popular and comforting dish, perfect for a quick and easy meal.
prep 5 minutes
cook 15 minutes
total 20 minutes

Equipment

  • 1 pan

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound tortellini
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup parmigiano reggiano cheese (grated)
  • cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup ham (diced)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the tortellini until slightly underdone (al dente).
  • Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water before draining.
  • Melt the butter in a large pan or skillet over medium heat and lightly fry the ham and peas for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the cream, nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the cooked tortellini and some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to the pan with the creamy sauce.
  • Toss gently to coat everything evenly. If the sauce seems too thick, add a splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up.
  • Remove from heat and plate the tortellini alla panna, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, and garnish with more fresh cracked pepper before serving.

Notes

  • Don’t overcook the tortellini. Aim for a slightly firm (al dente) texture as they will continue cooking in the sauce. This ensures they stay springy and don’t get mushy.
  • If your sauce seems too thick, a splash of pasta water adds richness and helps everything bind together smoothly.
  • For a richer flavor, use vegetable broth instead of water to cook the tortellini.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 717kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 2125mg | Potassium: 179mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1332IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 358mg | Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Tortellini alla panna is a classic comfort dish! It’s just tortellini in creamy sauce, but oh so satisfying. Perfect for when you need a quick, tasty meal. Can’t go wrong with this one!

  2. 5 stars
    I followed your tip of using vegetable broth instead of water to cook the tortellini alla panna, and wow, what a difference it made! The flavor was so much richer and tastier.