Tortellini sure to push your (belly)buttons

Apparently, tortellini was invented by a peeping tom.

I made a great recipe featuring tortellini this week and decided to see when and where it was first made. According to National Public Radio, the legend of tortellini says that it was created when the goddess of love, Venus, stayed at an inn, and the innkeeper decided to peek through the keyhole of her room at her.

He was inspired by her navel and decided to make a special pasta, tortellini, that was based on it.

So from here on out, when you’re around people eating tortellini, you can entertain them with the trivia that their meal is based on a bellybutton.

You’re welcome.

If you want to enjoy some Italian bellybutton pasta soon, I highly recommend this recipe, which comes from the blog “Cooktoria.” You can find the original at I decided to play with the recipe a bit because the original was going to leave me with an extra half cup of broth I didn’t know what to do with and didn’t want to see go to waste.

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Creamy Spinach Tortellini


20 ounces three-cheese tortellini

8 ounces cream cheese (fat free works)

14.5 ounces chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup parmesan cheese (optional—see directions)

6-8 cups fresh spinach leaves

1 cup Colby Jack cheese


Follow the directions on the tortellini package to cook it properly, drain it and set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Add the cream cheese and broth to a large skillet that can go in the oven, and heat over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the cheese is melted into the broth.

If the sauce is pretty loose, add in parmesan cheese to thicken it up a bit. I ended up adding about 1/2 cup before I was happy with mine. Just add a little at a time, letting it melt, until you’re happy with the thickness of the sauce.

Add in the spinach leaves and stir. Let the mixture cook for a bit until the leaves are wilted.

Add the tortellini to the pan, stirring to coat the pasta, and then top the entire thing with the shredded cheese and pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

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While we didn’t miss having meat in our dinner, you could easily add grilled chicken or shrimp to this pasta, if you think you would. Either would be delicious. You could also substitute with a beef tortellini instead of the three-cheese.

It also reheats great. I had this for several lunches during the week, so not only was this a quick dinner to make, but it was awesome for leftovers as well.

Maybe some folks won’t find eating something inspired by a bellybutton very appealing, but you can remind them that it wasn’t just any ordinary bellybutton but one belonging to a goddess. And if that doesn’t convince them, that just means more yummy, cheesy pasta for you,

Lindsey Young is managing editor of The Clarion, the Kansas Publishing Ventures newspaper in Andale. She can be reached at

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