Tortellini: A Culinary Legend

It is with great pleasure that we are here today to commemorate National Tortellini Day, which is celebrated on February 13th.

Tortellini proves that beautiful things do indeed come in small packages.

The rolled pasta with the ‘special treat on the inside’ has been a much-loved Italian dish over the centuries.

And while the filling inside a tortellini has traditionally been meat or cheese-based, this pasta can just as easily be made with 100 percent plant-based ingredients.

The History of Tortellini

As described in Wikipedia, tortellini is a stuffed, navel-shaped pasta, considered to be the ‘pasta of legends.’


The first legend to be linked to tortellini takes place in Castelfranco Emilia, a province of Modena. According to the tale, a beautiful woman named Lucrezia Borgia stopped at an inn during her travels. Captivated by her beauty, the host of the inn peeked into her room at night through the keyhole where he caught a glimpse of the beauty’s navel in the candlelight. The sight inspired him to create a pasta in a similar form—the tortellini.

A second legend is somewhat related. This story revolves around Venus and Jupiter who went to a tavern in Bologna. Weary from battle, they enjoyed copious food and drink and finally retired for the night in a shared room. Captivated by the two, the innkeeper tried to peek through the keyhole where he saw Venus’ navel, which inspired him to create the tortellini.

The final legend explains that the tortellini was created to replicate the architecture of 17th century Modena buildings, which often used a turtle motif.

It is unclear which legend is true, but what we know for sure is that the oldest tortellini recipe dates all the way back to 1570.

Fun Facts About Tortellini

Here are 5 fun facts about this stellar pasta:

  • spinach leavesTortellini is also known as “ombelico” pasta because of its belly button shape.
  • Tortellini is a bite-sized stuffed pasta but is distinct from the tortelloni which has a similar shape but is larger.
  • Up until the 19th century, tortellini was only served during the holidays and was reserved for the rich members of society.
  • An app has been created by a group of young graphic designers from Modena, Italy teaching people how to make tortellini.
  • An organization named the Learned Order of the Tortellini was formed in the city of Bologna to preserve the traditional tortellini.

Dr Rosane Oliveira and Homemade Spinach Tortellini With White Wine SauceHow to Celebrate National Tortellini Day

To enjoy National Tortellini Day why not prepare a whole food plant-based tortellini recipe?

Here is my healthful Homemade Spinach Tortellini With White Wine Sauce that will have everyone at the table begging for more!

And if you feel inspired, surprise your loved ones with this amazing dish on Valentine’s Day!

Happy National Tortellini Day!