The formula on Butter Poached for a winning mid-week dinner recipe is obvious: sausage, minimal clean-up, cream and/or cheese, and pasta. If there’s a veggie involved, we’re happy to have it. You’d think that by now I wouldn’t be so excited about a sausage + pasta dinner recipe, BUT I AM. This is my latest find and it’s among the easiest ever.
Despite my excitement, I was reluctant to share this dish because the combination of store-bought sausage and store-bought tortellini seemed to add up to something too processed. Putting aside my infatuation with crescent rolls stuffed with marshmallows, I really do try to cook with whole foods. We eat out a lot, so I aim to make our homemade meals low(ish) in sodium and light on mystery ingredients. To get this dish to feel more wholesome, I thought about swapping out the tortellini for simple dried pasta, but that was too boring. The tortellini give the dish a heft that’s more satisfying than plain old penne. With a little shopping around, I found an organic brand of tortellini with a shorter ingredient list than the other brand I’d been using. This was just the mental bandage I needed.
The recipe follows the path of its weeknight lifesaver brethren: brown the meat, add garlic, stir in tomatoes and cream, add pasta, cover and simmer. To dial up the health factor, you mix in chopped baby spinach as a finishing touch. There’s even room to improvise: change up the sausage, use a different flavor tortellini, toss in some basil, or use spicy tomatoes. Added bonus: the leftovers make a warming, craveable lunch.
tortellini with creamy sausage, tomato, and spinach sauce
adapted from Everyday Reading
As noted above, there is room for substitution in this recipe. You could swap the fire roasted tomatoes for regular diced or spicy Ro-Tels, you could use andouille, italian, or another sausage, and/or you can use any flavor of tortellini you’d like.
You’ll need a sauté pan or skillet with a lid.
½ tbsp olive oil
12 oz smoked sausage, cut into ½-inch rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14-oz cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
½ cup half and half
9 or 10 oz fresh cheese tortellini
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan or skillet. Add sausage and brown on both sides. Stir in garlic and let cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. If you have a lot of fat in the pan, drain all but about two tablespoons.
Add tomatoes and cream, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer.
Stir in tortellini and cover. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until tortellini are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chopped spinach until it starts to wilt.