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!


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.


Show/Hide Comments


29 Dec 2011 - 3:09pm


Recipe sounds yummy but I'm not much of a cook, so maybe I'll just have to go to the restaurant, since i DO live in Phoenix!


That sounds like the best New Year`s Eve plan of all, Ruth!

29 Dec 2011 - 6:14pm


Wonderful! Your easy how to steps, pictures, and part of the storyn IS THE BEST!!!..again BRAVO..Milady !


Thank you so much, my time traveling friend! My best wishes for a happy new year...

29 Dec 2011 - 9:11pm


Ahhhhh I do so love pasta! Even my picky eater son loves Tortellini! I'll have to give this a go. Love the way you put this together. The pictures are great, the excerpt is great (never can get enough reading of Outlander books!) Recipe looks scrumptious!

30 Dec 2011 - 2:21pm

Kiri W.

This looks absolutely fantastic! I love tortellini, and portofino? I'm up for seconds!

30 Dec 2011 - 3:47pm

Hannah Railey

I think the passage you picked and its reflection (literally) of the thoughts and feelings (regrets and otherwise) that all seem to come to a head at the closing of one year and the dawn of another was perfect! This recipe also seems delicious, and I love the photos you present thoughout the cooking process. Just so well done ;) :) :) I love this blog!

30 Dec 2011 - 8:22pm

The Mom Chef …

I so, so badly want a KitchenAid with attachments (like the pasta roller). Your tortellini are absolutely perfect! I've never been to Portofino, but we did stay on the mainland, right across from the city, in Rapallo and fell in love with it. If this dish will remind me of that stay, I'll eat it every day! Happy New Year, Theresa!

02 Feb 2012 - 3:47pm


This was an awesome recipie! I tweaked it a bit; to suit my picky eaters, but it was light and delicious. I will make it again! Cheers!


Make it your own, Kate -- that's the wonderful thing about getting creative in the kitchen!

12 Feb 2012 - 10:20pm


I am going to give this one a try too!!

14 Jun 2012 - 3:28am

Shana Jensen

What other kinds of things can/do you put inside tortellini? I would love to make this with the kids, and only one eats shrimp. Ricotta?


chopped chicken, ricotta, roasted garlic and breadcrumbs...the sky is the limit!

30 Dec 2012 - 6:58pm


Hi Theresa!nnThis sounds quite delicious but I was wondering how you could/would substitute ingredients so it is not so fat heavy. Do you have a "lite" Alfredo recipe?

Kathy H.

I've used cauliflower to replace the heavy cream in alfredo sauce. Here's a sample recipe from Dr. Oz:

02 Nov 2015 - 6:02pm

Outlander by …

is crisp and aromatic and goes with almost anything. I think it would be particularly nice with Claires Tortellini Portofino from Outlander Kitchen (Warning! There are excerpts from Dragonfly in Amber in that post.). When I first saw it in the

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