Tortelloni takes center stage in this quick and flavorsome dish! Drenched in a creamy tomato sauce infused with hints of garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano, this is an Italian favorite you can whip up in just 10 minutes. Serve it with freshly grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of basil!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Kid-friendly: It doesn’t matter how picky your little ones are, they will love this chewy, gooey tortelloni recipe tossed in tomato cream sauce!
- Versatile: Tortelloni is the perfect meal for busy weeknights, but it’s also gourmet enough to serve on date nights or when you’re hosting dinner guests.
- Easily customizable: Feel free to add in your favorite veggies or use a different sauce to make it your own — the base recipe is incredibly forgiving!
Pillowy tortelloni in creamy tomato sauce
Often confused with its smaller relative “tortellini,” tortelloni is a larger type of Italian stuffed pasta. I love stuffed pasta dishes, like ravioli lasagna and sausage tortellini soup, but this recipe takes the flavors to a whole new level!
The soft, pillowy texture of tortelloni contrasts perfectly with a creamy and velvety-smooth tomato sauce. I also like to infuse the sauce with garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano to add a touch of warmth with a herbaceous undertone.
But, the best part about this meal is how quick and easy it is to make! Just simmer the sauce, then toss in the pasta. You’ll have dinner on the table in less time than it takes to pick up the phone and order takeout!
Tortelloni vs. tortellini
While you may have never heard of tortelloni, it is actually its own type of pasta! Here is what separates it from tortellini:
- Tortellini: Small, ring-shaped pasta with a hole in the middle. Typically, features a meat-based filling (e.g. mortadella, prosciutto, egg, and Parmesan) and is sealed in a circular fashion. You’ll most likely find tortellini served in broth.
- Tortelloni: Larger than tortellini, but also a type of stuffed pasta in the shape of a keyhole. Usually filled with vegetarian ingredients (like ricotta cheese, spinach, or pumpkin purée) and served in sage and butter sauce or cream sauce.
Ingredients & substitutions
- Unsalted butter: To sauté the aromatics and add a rich flavor. I always recommend unsalted butter for better control over the sodium level. You can also use olive oil.
- Garlic: Provides an aromatic kick that elevates the sauce. Feel free to use garlic powder if you’re out of fresh cloves, using ¼ teaspoon for every clove.
- Tomato paste: Intensifies the tomato flavor and adds a punch of umami. Tomato paste can be replaced with crushed tomatoes but may alter the sauce’s thickness.
- Red pepper flakes: Gives the dish its spicy edge! Adjust the quantity to your liking or skip it if you’re not a fan of heat. Cayenne pepper will also work in a pinch.
- Tomato sauce: You can use homemade or canned here. Crushed tomatoes will also do the trick, but I suggest blending them to achieve a smooth consistency.
- Chicken broth: Enhances the depth of the sauce. Vegetable broth will also work.
- Oregano: Adds an aromatic, herbaceous touch. You can swap in basil or Italian seasoning if you don’t have any dried oregano on hand.
- Heavy cream: Gives the sauce its rich, velvety texture. You can also opt for half and half or even coconut milk for a lighter variation.
- Tortelloni: You should be able to find tortelloni in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores. If it’s unavailable, cheese tortellini is the next best substitute.
- Garnishes: Parmesan adds a salty, umami flavor, while basil provides a fresh, aromatic finish. Pecorino Romano or Asiago are also good options.
How to make tortelloni in creamy tomato sauce
- Sauté the aromatics: Sauté the garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes with butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook them until they’re nice and fragrant.
- Build the sauce: Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, and oregano. Give everything a good mix until the sauce is evenly combined, then stir in the heavy cream and season the sauce with salt.
- Add the tortelloni: Add the tortelloni into the mix, then reduce the heat a little, pop a lid on, and let them simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes until they’re tender.
- Garnishes: Once your tortelloni is done, remove the skillet from the heat and serve this meal immediately with freshly grated Parmesan and basil!
Turn your tortelloni recipe into a full spread by pairing it with flavorful side dishes like these:
- Vegetables: Try Italian stuffed peppers or roasted cauliflower steaks.
- Green salad: Add a roasted beet and burrata salad or shaved zucchini salad with feta to the side.
- Bread: Garlic bread or Spanish tomato bread makes for a more filling dish and helps with soaking up all the leftover sauce!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Just blend some vine-ripened tomatoes until smooth and use this as a replacement for the tomato sauce. You might need to adjust the cooking time to ensure the sauce thickens and the flavors deepen.
Yes! Coconut milk or a dairy-free cream can be used in place of heavy cream. The taste might change slightly but will still be delicious.
The tortelloni should be tender but not mushy. You can do a taste test after the initial 5-minute cooking time and adjust accordingly.
Storage & reheating
Keep your tortelloni fresh for longer by following these simple storage and reheating tips:
- Fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It’s best to store the sauce and pasta separately if possible.
- Freezer: Once cooled, transfer leftovers to a freezer-safe container. You can store them like this for up to 2-3 months.
- Reheating: Warm leftovers in a skillet over medium heat, adding a splash of broth or water to revive the sauce if needed.
- Sage & butter: Replace creamy tomato sauce with a simple butter and sage mix.
- Veggies: Add spinach, bell peppers, or zucchini to the sauce.
- Pesto: Swirl in a spoonful of basil pesto for a herbaceous infusion.
- Ravioli: Swap out tortelloni for ravioli for a different pasta texture and flavor.
- Sauce consistency: If your sauce is too thick, add a splash of broth or water. If it’s too thin, simmer it for a bit longer.
- Skillet size: Use a large skillet so everything cooks evenly. This also gives you ample space for stirring without spillage.
- Cheese: Opt for freshly grated Parmesan over pre-grated versions for a smoother melt.
- Stir gently: Gently fold the tortelloni into the sauce to avoid breaking the pasta.
Looking for more pasta recipes?
If you loved this tortelloni recipe, check out more of my most popular pasta dishes like these:
If you try this Tortelloni recipe, let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
The Best Tortelloni (in Creamy Tomato Sauce)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ cup heavy cream or half and half
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound tortelloni pasta refrigerated
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese fresh grated
- ¼ cup basil chopped for serving
- Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. (Be sure to use a skillet with a lid.) Add garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute, just until fragrant.
- Add the tomato sauce, broth, and oregano, then stir well until the tomato paste is dissolved.
- Stir in the heavy cream and kosher salt.
- Stir in tortelloni, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with lid, and cook for 5 minutes. Test a tortelloni; if it is tender, remove from the heat, but if it needs a few more minutes, return the lid and continue cooking as needed, checking every minute or so.
- Serve right away with grated Parmesan cheese and a fresh basil. Enjoy!