Tortellini with Spicy Zucchini and Tomatoes

This recipe for cheese tortellini with zucchini and fresh tomatoes makes a satisfying meatless meal that’s on the table in less than half an hour.

How To Cook Tortellini

Great tasting brands of tortellini are available in most supermarkets. They come in refrigerated, dried and frozen varieties, all of which are quick and easy to make.

Just like any pasta, tortellini are cooked in salted, boiling water. The refrigerated variety cooks in 3 to 4 minutes, frozen takes about 5 minutes, and dried tortellini cooks in 10 to 11 minutes.

For this recipe we like to use cheese tortellini filled with a combination of several cheeses including ricotta, and a sharp Italian cheese like Parmesan or Romano.

Preparation starts with sautéing the zucchini in olive oil along with some onion and garlic.

Once that mixture is lightly caramelized, we add a little chicken broth, fresh cherry tomatoes and crushed red pepper for some heat.

As the tomatoes soften, they give off juices that combine with the broth to make a light sauce.

A bit of fresh basil added just before the zucchini and tomatoes are combined with the tortellini is the finishing touch that pulls all the flavors together.

Tortellini with Spicy Zucchini and Tomatoes

Spicy Tortellini with Zucchini and Tomatoes

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Cheese tortellini tossed with zucchini, garlic and fresh tomatoes makes a deliciously quick and easy vegetarian dinner.


  • 12 ounces cheese tortellini
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint cherry, or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chiffonade of fresh basil


  • Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the tortellini.
  • Quarter each zucchini lengthwise, then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Coat a large frying pan with the olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the zucchini and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until the zucchini is lightly caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  • Add the tomatoes, stir in the chicken broth, sprinkle with crushed red pepper and continue cooking until the tomatoes have softened slightly and their juices blend with the broth to form a light sauce.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove the pan from the heat while you cook and drain the tortellini.
  • Once the tortellini is cooked, add the basil to the zucchini-tomato mixture, then toss with the tortellini.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning and drizzle with a bit of extra olive oil if needed. Serve immediately.
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