Tortellini Portofino inspired by Outlander book Dragonfly in Amber

Claire's Tortellini Portofino from Dragonfly in Amber For New Year's Eve

When Geillis Duncan had been condemned as a witch, Jamie had said to me, "Dinna grieve for her, Sassenach; she's a wicked woman."  And whether she had been wicked or mad, it had made little difference at the time.  Should I not have left well enough alone, and left her to find her own fate?  Still, I thought, she had once saved my life.  In spite of what she was -- would be -- did I owe it to her to try to save her life?  And thus perhaps doom Roger?  What right did I have to meddle any further?

It isna a matter of right, Sassenach, I heard Jamie's voice saying, with a tinge of impatience.  It's a question of duty.  Of honor.

"Honor, is it?" I said aloud.  "And what's that?" The waiter with my plate of tortellini Portofino looked startled.

"Eh?" he said.

"Never mind," I said, too distracted to care much what he thought of me.  "Perhaps you'd better bring the rest of the bottle."

I finished my meal surrounded by ghosts.  Finally, fortified by food and wine, I pushed my empty plate aside, and opened Gillian Edgar's gray notebook.

Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber (Chapter 48)

A bit of a melancholy scene from which to suggest a romantic New Year's dinner for 2?

Perhaps, but these delicious little shrimp-filled pillows tossed in a classic Alfredo sauce more than make up for Claire's tortured self reflections -- don't forget it's an empty plate she pushes aside, so her internal struggles don't seem to have affected her appetite -- and, as for turning self reflection into a plan of action, that probably happens more on New Year's Eve than any other day of the year, so, although it's a strange fit, it's a fit after all.  Or so says the head cook... ;)

As for the dish itself, Portofino is a traditional fishing village turned tourist resort in north-west Italy.  That the tortellini's filling has to be from the sea is a no brainer.  And when one of my Google searches turned up Tortellini Portofino with Alfredo Sauce on the dinner menu from a restaurant in Phoenix, the old writer's adage "write what you know" came to mind.  Is it possible that Herself was inspired to include Tortellini Portofino in DIA because she enjoyed it at a restaurant close to home?

Possible -- and certainly a good place to start when creating a recipe!

tortellini-making

Credit for the tortellini dough goes to Alton Brown from the Food Network.  The olive oil in the recipe gives the dough a little stretch, making it easier to fill and fold.  My friend Alton also claims that you can roll this dough out by hand -- I have never tried it (I use the pasta roller attachment on my Kitchen Aid), but if you're keen for a go, check out his directions.

The filling is purely my own.  The shrimp and green onion are fresh, uncomplicated flavours that match well with the slight tang and creaminess of the Alfredo.

Although I've suggested this as a romantic New Year's Eve dinner for 2, you'll notice that the recipe actually serves 4.  If you're going to the trouble to make homemade tortellini, it doesn't make sense to only make enough for 2.  Freeze half of the uncooked tortellini for another dinner down the line (see the tips below the recipe) -- or have an Outlander-obsessed friend and her partner over to make it a party!

And, finally, don't write this recipe off as too much work.  If you want to make things easier and avoid the pasta making, check out the tips below the recipe.

tortellini-

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