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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Pasta in cream sauce cooks quickly

Thursday, September 28, 2000

Tested by Nancy Anderson

Today's Countdown recipe for Tortellini in Tomato Cream Sauce comes from Debbie Luckasevic of Bethel Park, who knew a good thing when she found it.

"When I first tasted pasta in cream sauce, I liked it right away," she said, "so I played around with making my own sauce."

In the beginning, she used too much whipping cream, which made it too creamy. So she cut back on the cream and adjusted the basil until she was satisfied.

"This recipe is so easy," she said. "It's like fast food because there is not much to making it.

"You can use any pasta, like bow ties or angel hair, but we like it best on tortellini."

The sauce is lightning fast to make. No chopping, mincing or sauteing is required, so it's assembled in three or four minutes and left to simmer for 20.

Debbie admits to not being a good measurer -- "I just throw things in" -- and adds that two tablespoons of basil is a guess. She suggests adding more to taste.

We did just that and also gave the sauce some extra sprinkles of garlic powder, since we like it spicy.

Debbie, who works at Mellon Bank, makes this dish at least once a month for husband Bill, a Chubb Insurance agent, and daughter Kelly, 13, an eighth-grader at Independence Middle School.

"We all love Italian food," she added, "and garnish everything with Parmesan."

She serves the tortellini with garlic toast and a bagged green salad or a veggie.

She urges cooks to be creative with the sauce. "You can do anything you want to this recipe," she said.

"In the winter, when there's no fresh basil, I use a pinch or two of nutmeg in the sauce. Gives it a different taste."

Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce

16-ounce bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 pint whipping cream or half-and-half
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook and drain tortellini according to directions on package. While tortellini is cooking, combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve sauce over hot tortellini.


Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.



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