dinner tonight: tortellini with spinach and tomatoes

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

I haven’t had tortellini in ages

My mom used to make it for me when I was a little kid. I used to stack them on my fingers like rings. I loved it. But as I grew older, I forgot about tortellini and I’m not really sure why. Luckily, we’ve become reacquainted.

While shopping in my favorite store, I overheard a man going on and on about how much his wife loved tortellini. She would serve it with sauteed greens and tomatoes for a quick meal. It was her lifesaver during busy weeknights.

Sold!

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

Back home at the stove, I tried to re-create this dish. I started off by frying some diced bacon for a nice, smoky flavor. To that, I added grape tomatoes (no need to cut) and cooked them until blistered. Then I folded in some baby spinach. By the time my tortellini were done, my ‘sauce’ was complete. I tossed it all together with shaved parmesan cheese.

tortellini with spinach and tomatoes | The Clever Carrot

From start to finish, this meal took only 20 minutes! It was inexpensive too. For 4 people, the total cost was $12. That’s only $3/person! And I live in NY by the way, where everything is expensive. Tortellini, you’re my hero.

*Try swapping out cheese tortellini for pesto or mushroom. Add a dollop of goat cheese for a decadent touch!

20 minute tortellini with spinach and tomatoes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs. fresh cheese tortellini
  • 6 bacon slices, cut into ½" dice
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 2 c. whole grape (or cherry) tomatoes
  • 1x 16 oz bag baby spinach, washed and dried
  • parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt and add the tortellini. Cook according to the package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan (preferably 12") warm a splash of olive oil over moderate heat. If you do not have a pan this size, use 2 separate ones to avoid overcrowding and steaming.
  3. Add the diced bacon and saute until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  4. Using a microplane, grate your garlic into the pan. Saute until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  5. Add the whole grape tomatoes (no need to cut). Cook until they are slightly blistered.
  6. Add the spinach. Gently toss with tongs until wilted, being careful not to break up the tomatoes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Drain the tortellini and toss together with the sauce. Add additional olive oil to coat. Top with the reserved bacon and shaved parmesan cheese.
  9. Serve immediately.

grandpa’s crab sauce

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

 What did you do last Sunday?

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

We had crab sauce. Grandpa’s crab sauce.

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

It’s an epic event that takes place once a year.

So you better be there…

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

We start them young…

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

Go through a lot of napkins…

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

And it’s worth every last stain.

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

Grandpa's Crab Sauce / The Clever Carrot

* Grandpa’s crab sauce dinner is an annual event you don’t want to miss. It has been a traditional family favorite for over 30 years. At one point, he used to catch the crabs himself but has since retired his crabbing gear and position as head cook. He now likes when someone else makes it so he can boss them around.  The best time to make crab sauce is June- August when blue crabs are in season.

grandpa's crab sauce
 
Make friends with your fish guy. If you ask nicely, he will clean and gut the crabs for you.
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2x 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes
  • 12 blue claw crabs, or 24 small ones (cleaned & gutted)
  • 1 lb. linguine or tagliatelle pasta, fresh or dried
  • salt & pepper
  • crusty bread for dunking
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot, warm the butter and olive oil over moderate heat.
  2. Dice the onion into ¼ inch pieces and add to the pot.
  3. Saute until lightly golden but not brown, about 10-15 minutes (over browning the onions will make the flavor too strong).
  4. While you are sauteing the onions, puree the tomatoes and their juice in a blender. Doing this gives the sauce an extra silky texture.
  5. Strain the sauce to remove the seeds, which tend to be bitter. Set aside.
  6. Add the crabs to the pot. Saute until they turn red.
  7. Using tongs, remove to a bowl.
  8. Pour the pureed tomatoes into the pot and bring to a simmer.
  9. Meanwhile, gently twist the claws off of the crabs, adding everything back to the pot as you go. Don't forget to add any crab juice from the bowl as well. The idea is to have the claws and bodies separate so everyone can get a little bit of each.
  10. Simmer the crab sauce for a minimum of 3 hours and up to 6. The longer it cooks, the better the flavor will be. Be patient!
  11. When you are ready to eat, cook your pasta according to the package instructions.
  12. Serve each dish with pasta, crabs and a generous amount of sauce. Don't forget the bread.
Notes
* When blue crabs are is season, you can freeze them (uncooked) to make this sauce anytime of year. They will keep for about 3 months. * The tomato sauce (without the crabs) can be made ahead of time refrigerated or frozen.