Tortellini is a pasta made of two circles stuffed with cheese or meat, and pinched together in the center.  The finished product resembles a hat some say, but the inventor of Tortellini, Giuseppe Cerri, says he modeled the shape after a woman’s navel.

The pasta comes from the Bologna region of Italy.  They are traditionally served in broth, like a dumpling, but can also be served with a tomato or cream sauce.  More recently tortellini are a popular pasta for cold pasta salads with meat, peppers, and oil and vinegar.

Tortellini shouldn’t be confused with its larger relative tortelloni.  Although most companies and restaurants just refer anything in this shape tortellini, tortellini are actually very small in size.  Stuffed pastas in order of increasing sizes go, Tortellini, Raviolli, Tortelloni, tortellacci.  Tortellini is often stuffed with meat, where as the other are traditionally cheese-filled.  Stuffed pasta like tortellini was a way to use up left over meats in a new meal.

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