However hurried, time for tortellini, bell pepper sauce


September 01, 1993|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

Do chefs really eat when they go home? Do they cook?

Steve Sappe, executive chef of Truffle's Catering at the Belvedere Hotel, actually does continue to practice his skills at home, but makes sure the dishes are fast. One of his favorites is tortellini filled with cheese, garlic and herbs, coated with a quick red bell pepper sauce and dotted with slices of sausage.

Although the creamy sauce would seem to very high in calories, there are clever ways to imitate richness. In this case, nonfat ricotta is thinned with regular or skimmed milk and added to a puree of jarred roasted red bell peppers. These roasted and peeled bell peppers are one of the tastiest time savers around and should always be kept on hand.

Focaccia, a classic Italian flat bread, is now more readily found in bakeries and even supermarket bread departments. Its crunchy texture, when heated is perfect for the soft tortellini. Heat your regular or toaster oven first so that you can toast the bread quickly just before serving.

An Italian water ice is certainly the perfect finish if available. Otherwise, frozen sorbets (in the ice cream department) are virtually the same.

Items you should have as staples are: regular or skim milk. Your 10-item-or-less shopping list: 8 ounces Italian sausage (or reduced fat turkey sausages); two 9-ounce packages refrigerated garlic and cheese tortellini; one 6- to 7-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers; 16 ounce container nonfat ricotta; focaccia or herb bread; and sorbet.

Tortellini with sausage, red bell pepper sauce

Serves 4

8 ounces Italian sausage (or reduced fat turkey sausage)

2 (9) ounce packages refrigerated garlic and cheese tortellini

1 (6- to 7-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained

16 ounce container nonfat ricotta

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup regular or skim milk

Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium high until hot but not smoking. Add whole sausage and cook on each side until browned and firm. Reserve and when slightly cooled, slice into 1/4 -inch thick diagonal rounds.

Let the pot cool slightly and then drain off any fat. Fill with enough water to generously cover the two packages of tortellini (no need to wash pot). Heat water over high heat until boiling.

While heating, puree roasted red bell peppers in a food processor or blender. Add ricotta and enough milk to make a medium thick creamy sauce.

Add tortellini to boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain well by pouring water from pot. Add red bell pepper sauce and sausage.

Toss well to coat. Serve immediately.

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