As I continue to look at different meals to make, I spend a lot of time in the grocery aisles looking for box dinner items that I can utilize in my entrees.
One such item that I came across several months back, was the dry cheese tortellini you find in the pasta section.
While there are different companies who make it, the one I have settled on is Napoleon Brand Cheese Tortellini.
It took me several tries to get things right to where I liked it.
It is meals like this, that people can really spend time customizing to their own needs. So keep that in mind as you read over the ingredients and how I went about preparing this meal. It is this reason that I really have enjoyed making these meals, as they are personalized to my tastes.
For instance, although my sauce may seem a bit simplistic to many, it fits me well. I am not a fan of onions, mushrooms, or olives. These are all things you could add to your sauce. Maybe even a little garlic salt to bring out some more flavor. The possibilities of items to use is endless to satisfy your tastes.
As I began to dive more and more into buying box foods, I realized that splitting them is easier by weight, than trying to figure out by Cup, or Tablespoon or whatever.
So with that, I invested into a small 1lb scale that dials in 16 hours in 1/4 oz or 5 gram increments.
I found out just how handy measuring by weight is with odd shaped items, such as the tortellini, and I would advise if you have not yet invested into a small kitchen scale, that the 10 to 15 dollars for one at your local kitchen accessory store is well worth it.
So lets move on to the ingredients.
2.66 oz (1/3 box) Napoleon Cheese Tortellini
1/3 c Freeze Dried Ground Beef Crumble
2.5 tbsp Tomato Powder
1.5 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Italian Spice Blend
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
16 oz Water
For Starters, I am using Napoleon Cheese Tortellini. Your Grocery Store of choice may carry different brands and I would expect that they are all pretty close in density, so substituting shouldn’t be an issue I would imagine. I buy Napoleon at Top Foods.
The Italian Spice blend is a pre-blended spice jar you buy at your grocery store. It is comprised of Oregano, Basil, Rosemary, and other spice ingredients.
You will prepare this meal for your trip in two separate batches.
In the first batch, you will include the Cheese Tortellini and the Ground Beef Crumble.
In the second batch, you will mix all of the remaining dry ingredients.
You can store these in Zip Lock Bags, or use vacuum seal bags like I do myself, and then stuff into a zip lock. I went this route, so that I had a zip lock bag that I will be able to double as a “trash” bag that I will be able to toss the following day while on the road.
The tomato powder and Beef Crumble come from Healthy Harvest located in Vancouver Washington. They have an exceptional selection of Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Foods. They carry them in both #2.5 cans as well as the larger #10 cans as well as 5 gallon pales. If you live near Vancouver, or are passing through, call ahead of time and you can schedule to purchase your items directly from the warehouse, saving on shipping.
To prepare your meal for consumption is simple.
- Pour all 16 oz. of water into cooking pot and bring to boil.
- Add Cheese Tortellini and Beef Crumble mix to boiling water
- Boil for 5 to 10 min. or until tortellini is tender
- Bring to simmer and stir in contents of powdered sauce packet
- Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes to cool down and serve
I actually really enjoy this meal. I’ve now cooked it a few times, mainly playing with the amount of tomato powder to use to get the thickness I wanted out of the sauce. I actually stir the sauce packet in while removing the pot from the heat source, then set aside.
As mentioned at the beginning, one could really personalize this meal easily by adding in and substituting as needed.
For instance, one could use garlic salt instead of regular salt to give it a hint of garlic flavor.
One could substitute the Ground Beef Crumble with chicken, pork, turkey, or a TVP variant.
It would also be easy enough to add freeze dried or dehydrated items such as olives, mushrooms, and onions.
If adding other vegetables, add them to the tortellini packet, as these will need a bit of time to rehydrate properly, and adding them to the sauce packet my produce crunchy results.
I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do.
Recipe Card: Cheese Tortellini in Meaty Marinara Sauce (.doc format)