tortellini tapas and tangerines

My Porter relatives gave me some Trader Joe’s mini ravioli and pesto tortellini for my birthday, so I took the opportunity to try out a tapas dish I read about in a Southern Living Christmas Cookbook. The tortellini is cooked, then soaked in a mixture of eggs and ranch dressing, coated in bread crumbs, and cooked in hot oil. What a crispy, tender, flavorful, hot bite to dip and munch! The little fried belly button pastas reminded me of being in Italy during La Befana 10 years ago, when the simplest things seemed full of magic. One evening for dessert we were presented with gifts of already peeled, sparkly, ripe tangerines.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Christmas Cookbook’s “Tortellini Tapas with Spicy Ranch Dip” –or, as I call them, Fried Belly Buttons with Sauce.

Cook, drain, and cool about 9 oz. tortellini (pesto or cheese-filled is good).

Whisk together 2 eggs & 1 C. ranch dressing (I used chipotle ranch dressing for an added kick).

Drown the tortellini in the eggy ranch and soak for about 10 minutes.

Roll the pasta around in about 2 C. dry bread crumbs until covered.  Panko (Japanese) bread crumbs are my favorite, since they are so light.

Chill the pan of coated tortellini in the fridge for at least an hour.

Fry in bubbled vegetable oil on medium heat for a few minutes on each side until golden and transfer to towel to drain extra grease.

For the dipping sauce: Mix together salsa (I like it hot) and ranch (chipotle) dressing.  I used a ratio of ¼ C. dressing to ¾ C. tomato salsa, but you may adjust to your liking.

Top with fresh cilantro.

Dip, snack, and if you have one around, pop open a bottle of something bubbly to wash it down!

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