Tortellini with Asparagus and Leeks

This preparation produces a dish with decided flavor, a good counterpoint to the tortellini. There's a hint of tomato and red wine that sums it up. And, if you like, the sauce would work well with an unfilled pasta as well.


18 dry oz. TortelliniTwo nine ounce packages
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
3   LeeksSliced into one inch rounds, and washed well so that no dirt clings.
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 clove GarlicMinced
1 dash White Pepper
¼ tsp SaltOr to taste, usually more for my taste
½ cup Red Wine
¼ cup Tomato Paste
3 cups AsparagusTough stems removed and then cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, or as you like


1 Fill a large pasta-type pot with water and bring to a full boil.
2 In large saute pan, melt the butter. As it sizzles add the leeks and let them cook until they just begin to soften. Then add the minced garlic and let saute for just 30 seconds or so. Then add the cream and let this mixture simmer until it becomes somewhat thickened. Add the white pepper and salt. Add red wine and tomato paste and let these all simmer gently together until the sauce is somewhat the consistency of a thickened heavy cream.
3 At this point add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook just until it still has some good texture (al dente). This differs, of course, according to whether you are using fresh pasta or dried. I find that when the tortellini comes to the surface of the boiling water, they are not far from being cooked sufficiently. Remember that they will continue to cook in the next step.
4 My method of completing such dishes is to drain the water out of the pasta cooking pot, leaving just two tablespoons or so of the water. Then I add the uncooked asparagus along with the sauce and gently toss these together until the sauce is pretty much completely adhered to the tortellini with perhaps just a little thickened sauce at the bottom of the pan. At this point the asparagus should be cooked just to the point of perfection, and the dish is ready to serve.