There are things I am because I learned how to be them from my friends.
Because of Brittmarie, I can make faces at myself in the mirror. I learned from her how to laugh at myself.
Because of Amy, I can write letters. She taught me how to turn the mundanities of life into magical, woven words.
Because of Bethany, I embrace sarcasm and seek a sharp outlook on everything from sports to politics, with reality shows mixed somewhere in between.
Russell taught me reverence for the places I come from. Emily showed me the power of absolute candor. Meeker reminded me of the importance of giggling like a girl every now and again. Mayzie taught loyalty. Esteban, the gift of a girls night out.
And Jessica? Well, from Jessica I learned an important lesson today, when she called and said, “Listen. We have two weeks until you move and I want to spend as much time with you as I can before you leave.”
So, we walked miles on warm asphalt and told stories of the people we were a hundred years ago. We showered quick, sucked down Starbucks, then stood in a single Kohls dressing room for hours, trying on and taking off and hunting down just the right clothes for her ‘new style.’ We filled a metal basket with tofu and parsley and marjoram and ran home to watch our children stand half-naked in the street with signs that read “Lemonade, 50-cents.” We stood, shoulders brushing, around the kitchen sink, wrapping tortellini which we quickly boiled and served in white bowls. Wine glasses full of fruit from another season. Forks scraping the sides of our bowl, keeping the rhythm of our conversation. The day ending in the cool evening air, us chasing her husband and children and my children, a gangly bunch of well-fed folks running around the backyard, trying to capture each other’s flags.
The day stood still. It soaked around us. It filled with gold.
Today Jessica taught me that saying “I want to spend as much time as possible before you leave” is just the sort of sentence that binds friends together forever.
Dinner tonight was a homemade tofu ricotta tortellini and you must make it.
I don’t say that because I made it. I made up the idea, but I made Jessica roll each tiny tortellini with floured fingers while I shooed children outside and blended strawberry salad dressing in the Vitamix.
She really mastered the art of rolling tortellini, my Jess. And so I wanted to show you just how she did it. Because, you know. You must do it, too.
It starts with a mini scoop. Just a half of a mini scoop, actually. Plop it into the middle of a pre-made vegan wonton wrapper.
Fold the edges down diagonal-like.
Nab a bit of water and run it along those edges, then press them firmly together.
Now, starting at the pointy tip of your wrapper, begin to roll it down.
Tip from Jessica. “Tell them, if they’ve ever rolled their own cigarettes…”
We’re all about classy recipe directions over here, you know.
Once you’ve rolled your wrapped down, down, down to your filling, gently twist it into a ring. Dab a bit of water onto the edges before pressing them together. The water step is vital to making sure your tortellini stays together while cooking.
Another note from Jess: keep your wonton wrappers and work area as dry as possible to keep the tortellini filling from ripping through the filling.
Girlfriend rolled her own cigarettes way back in yonder days. Just do what she says.
Pretty little twist.
Place your rolled tortellini on a piece of parchment and allow them to airdry as you work on the remaining pieces.
I totally look like I’ve been rolling tortellini, but Jess made every last piece. Which reminds me, dear thing rolled for a good hour before her husband gave late-in-the-game back up assistance. This is not the sort of recipe you want to pull out on a Thursday night between carpooling to swim lessons and attempting to dress your sons for Scouts. It’s more of a Saturday afternoon, lazy Sunday recipe. One of those you attempt when you feel like standing barefoot on the wooden floor, fingers powdered with flour, hair tucked behind one ear, Adele crooning to you through Pandora.
Or, when you have a friend over that doesn’t just roll tortellini like the dickens, but makes you laugh so hard you have to cross your legs to keep from peeing. This is Jessica. I’d share her, but we’re going to be spending as much time together as possible before I become a California girl in two weeks.
Oh, I’m going to miss Colorado.
Dinner was green. And grand.
Company was even better.
Homemade Tofu Ricotta Tortellini with Spring Greens
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
This homemade tortellini is simple to make, but does take a good amount of prep time to roll the pasta, so allow yourself at least an hour and a half to prepare and cook this meal. Extra-firm tofu turns into a beautifully mellow ricotta-cheese-like filling when spiked with garlic, scallions, and fresh herbs. Stuffed into premade wonton wrappers, and served with fresh green veggies and a light lemon sauce, you won't believe you're eating vegan.
If Ume Plum Vinegar sounds unfamiliar, no worries! You can find it at Whole Foods, in the Asian Cuisine section, near the soy sauce. Ume Plum Vinegar lends a robust, slightly fruity, salted flavor to your dish. You can use it as you might soy sauce, only you'll need just a few drops. This stuff packs a lot of oomph!
For the Tofu Ricotta:
1 (14-ounce) block extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled
2 tablespoons tahini
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons mellow white miso
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
For the Tortellini:
1 package wonton wrappers (not all brands are vegan. Be sure you read the ingredient list!)
For the Garlic Lemon Drizzle:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup white cooking wine
2 meyer lemons, squeezed for the juice
1 tablespoon honey or brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch asparagus, cleaned and cut into 2" pieces
1 cup green peas
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, crushed
In a large bowl, prepare the tofu ricotta by stirring all ingredients together. You might have to be patient with the miso. It can take a bit of encouragement to get it to work nicely with the tofu. A bit of gentle pressing of the miso with the back of a spoon should help speed the process.
Spoon a teaspoon of the filling into the center of a single wonton wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper, and fold it on the diagonal, pressing the edges to seal completely. (Sprinkle your workspace with a very small amount of flour, if needed to keep your workspace and your wonton wrappers dry as you fold them. A wet wrapper can split and tear, which makes for rather nasty tortellini.) Beginning from the tip of the folded triangle, roll the wrapper toward the fat part of the triangle, as you would roll a cigarette. Gently moisten the tips of the wonton wrapper, then fold it into a circle, pressing the ends together to secure them tightly together. Place on a piece of parchment until all your wonton wrappers have been filled with tofu ricotta and rolled into tortellini.
Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Once boiling, drop the tortellini inside and watch the pot. When they float to the top, they're ready to remove from the water! It will take 3-5 minutes for your pasta to cook completely. Drain water from the pasta, then toss into a large bowl.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and sweat it in the hot oil for about a minute. Add the cooking wine, meyer lemon juice, honey (or brown rice syrup), and allow it to cook over medium-high heat until reduced in half. Whisk your salt into the sauce. Toss the asparagus into your sauce. Cover your skillet with a lid and allow the asparagus to steam for about 1 minute. Add the peas, then pour immediately over your hot tortellini.
Sprinkle with scallions, parsley, and chopped walnuts. Serve with a spring greens salad and fat slices of sourdough bread.