Cappelletti are shaped somewhat like a bishop’s hat; hence the name, which comes from the Italian word for hat, cappello. In Bologna they are also called tortellini; but in Romagna tortellini are made from little disks instead of little squares making them look more like a belly button than a hat. In fact, there is a legend about how the first round tortellino was created. Once upon a time there was a baker and pasta maker who was secretly and madly in love with a girl who worked for him. Before she started work she would change her clothes in the back room, and one day the owner could not resist the temptation to peek through the keyhole. All he could see was her navel, but he found it so beautiful that he picked up a small round disk of pasta and shaped it like her belly button. The first tortellino was born.
The classic way to serve tortellini is in homemade meat broth. Do not substitute store bought. It would be a shame to take the time to make tortellini and then use store-bought broth. Tortellini are also excellent with heavy cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Do not refrigerate and plan on cooking the tortellini within 2 to 3 hours. Otherwise, cook them partially, about 1 minute, then toss with a little vegetable oil, cool, and store in resealable plastic bags in the refrigerator (do not freeze).
© 2005 Giuliano Hazan. All rights reserved.