Cheese Tortellini With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Crispy Tuscan Kale

Spring 2013

Executive chef Suwanna Harrison serves this cheese-lover’s dream on pasta nights at the Piedmont Club in Haymarket, Va. Sinfully creamy, it’s a full bowl of flavor, and the fried kale adds a savory accent for extra oomph, much like bacon would. “Smoky-flavored Gouda cheese adds a unique touch to the red pepper sauce, and vitamin-rich fried kale contributes delicate crunch.”

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup Spanish onion, roughly chopped
1 jar (16 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained
salt and coarse black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 cups smoked Gouda cheese, grated
1 gallon water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package (16 ounces) fresh tri-colored cheese tortellini
Crispy Tuscan Kale (recipe follows)

In a medium sauce pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Mix in the red peppers, salt and pepper to taste, and let the juices thicken slightly for about 8 minutes on low heat. Add the cream, stirring, and reduce for about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the cream mixture until smooth. Pour mixture back into the sauce pot, set on low heat, and gently fold in the Gouda cheese until it melts.

In a separate deep pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil and add kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Boil tortellini for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water for the sauce. Stir reserved warm pasta water into sauce pot and combine.

To serve, divide tortellini onto plates and ladle the sauce over each. Add a handful of Crispy Tuscan Kale to each serving.

Yield: 6 servings

CRISPY TUSCAN KALE

2 cups canola oil
1 bunch kale, whole leaves torn from stems
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oil in a deep fryer at approximately 370 degrees. Gently fry the kale until crisp. Remove kale and drain excess oil on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

CHEF’S SECRET: “Always add a little of the cooked pasta water to the sauce you’re making to bind ingredients and add body.”

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