One-Pan Cheesy Tortellini with Sausage and Spinach
With just one skillet and a few simple ingredients, you can have this delicious One-Pan Cheesy Tortellini on the table in less than half an hour. Everything, including the tortellini, is made in one big pan, so cooking, serving, and cleaning up are a breeze. Don’t let its simplicity fool you though. This recipe is the perfect way to add a little gourmet to your Tuesday and it is destined to become part of your weeknight rotation.
Delicious Tortellini Recipe in One Pan
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Tortellini originated in Northern Italy and is sometimes referred to as tortalini or tortelli pasta. Tortelloni is similar to tortellini, but it is a bit larger in size. Resembling tiny wontons or croissants, these pillowy little bits of pasta are stuffed with meat, vegetables, or cheese, and painstakingly folded by hand, one by one.
Making the tortellini pasta from scratch is an arduous process, but the finished product is oh-so-delicious. Thankfully, there’s a shortcut for busy cooks who need to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Frozen tortellini pasta is readily available in most grocery stores and, because it is inexpensive and has a long shelf-life, having it on hand means you can whip up a dish that will wow the family in no time at all. You don’t even have to thaw it before cooking.
Some tortellini recipes require the pasta to be cooked in broth or water, drained, then topped with sauce and cheese. However, cooking the tortellini pasta right in the sauce makes those chewy, cheesy little pockets even more flavorful.
This Cheesy Tortellini recipe is cooked in a savory, robust tomato sauce that tastes homemade, but begins with canned tomatoes. Bonus: if you keep your pantry and freezer stocked with the ingredients for this recipe, you can serve a stress-free, company-worthy meal at a moment’s notice.
Simple Pantry Ingredients
You’re going to love this Cheesy Tortellini because it turns ordinary kitchen staples into something that is truly remarkable. Every bite is full of tender, juicy pasta simmered in a rich, decadent sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Add in some savory Italian sausage, fresh spinach, and shaved Parmesan cheese for a supper that’s sure to delight.
Keeping just a few ingredients in your kitchen will allow you to make this satisfying meal any time the mood strikes. Next time you’re at the store be sure you’ve got these things:
- Broth – Routinely stocking your pantry with broth is a great way to be prepared for countless quick and easy meals, from homemade chicken and dumplings or a hearty winter soup to the richest, most delectable mashed potatoes. Beef, chicken, and vegetable broths are all very useful to have on hand.
- Sauce and Tomatoes – Always keep a jar or two of good tomato-based pasta sauce, such as marinara sauce, and a few cans of diced tomatoes in your pantry. With just those two things, you can make pasta or pizza that tastes amazing with minimal effort.
- Sausage and Tortellini – Frozen ground sausage and frozen cheese tortellini will keep for a long time in the freezer, and both can be the start of so many quick and easy, crowd-pleasing meals. Make space for a few airtight rolls of sausage and a big bag of frozen tortellini in your freezer, and you’ll always be ready to put together something spectacular.
- Parmesan – Freshly grated parmesan cheese freezes beautifully. So pick up a wedge, shred it nice and thick and store it in a freezer-safe bag or glass container. Scoop out a few flakes anytime you want to add a sharp, salty kick to pasta, salad or soups.
All these delicious ingredients are so easy to store, and together they combine into an Italian feast that’s big on flavor. A big steamy bowl of this comfort food is certain to have your family cheering, “bravo!”
Though it looks and tastes like it would take hours to make, this tortellini recipe couldn’t be any easier. Here are the steps:
- Heat the oil in a large skillet, and cook the garlic and onions for about two minutes.
- Push the veggies to one side of the pan, and add in the sausage. Break the meat into pieces as it’s cooking. When it’s about halfway done, combine the meat with the garlic and onions and continue stirring until it is thoroughly cooked.
- Pour in the undrained tomatoes and sauce, along with the broth and cream, then stir until the sauce comes to a simmer.
- Add in the tortellini, without defrosting. Cover, and simmer the pasta until al dente.
- Add in the spinach and stir just until it begins to wilt, then top with pepper and grated parmesan or Romano cheese.
That’s all there is to it!
Ingredient Options and Substitutions
Tortellini is such a versatile ingredient that you can feel free to experiment with the flavors you like best or the ingredients that you happen to have on hand. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Spice it up – If you like your pasta a little on the spicy side, consider adding a few crushed red pepper flakes before serving. You can also try adding chopped peperoncino peppers. These are sometimes available fresh in the produce section, but are also sold pickled in jars. Be careful. It only takes a couple to add some serious kick.
- Make it extra creamy – For a really rich, decadent sauce, substitute full cream for half and half. If you prefer cream sauce to tomato sauce, you can omit the tomatoes altogether, and just add more cream and broth. The cooking process is just the same!
- Bring on the veggies – Adding in vegetables is a great way to get in your vitamins and make this meal stretch even further. Good options are thinly sliced carrots, zucchini, chopped bell peppers, capers, sweet peas, chopped asparagus, artichoke hearts, or broccoli. You can also replace the spinach with kale, and If you prefer, you can skip the meat altogether!
- Try different tomatoes – Using fire-roasted tomatoes, or tomatoes canned with green chilis, or garlic and basil will add a new flavor dimension to this dish. If you opt to go with a cream sauce, consider adding in chopped fresh cherry tomatoes or sundried tomatoes before serving.
- Broth – This tortellini recipe calls for chicken broth, but you can also use vegetable or beef broth. Beef broth has a richer flavor than chicken, while vegetable broth has a milder taste, so use the one that will create the effect you desire.
- Meats – You can use really any meat that you like in this dish. Steak, chicken, cooked sausage links, ground beef, bacon, and pancetta are all excellent options.
- Get Fancy – If you really want to take the sauce up a notch, add in a quarter cup of red wine (or white if you’re making a cream sauce), and a few anchovies when you stir the meat into the garlic and onion mixture. You can find jarred anchovies near the canned tuna in most grocery stores. Cook for a few minutes to reduce the wine and melt the anchovies before adding in the broth, cream, and tomatoes. These two ingredients will give your sauce a mysterious complexity that will make your guests think you labored over it all day.
- Use fresh tortellini – Many groceries offer fresh tortellini in their refrigerated sections. It’s a little more expensive and won’t last quite as long as frozen pasta, but it does produce incredible results. If you are using fresh pasta, reduce your cooking time so that it doesn’t get overdone. Fresh pasta will take only about 5 minutes to cook.
Serving, Storing, and Reheating
Recipes with tortellini are hearty and rich enough to stand on their own. You can serve up One-Pan Cheesy Tortellini all by itself in a bowl, topped with a little parmesan, fresh basil, and cracked black pepper. However, if you need to make it stretch, you can serve it on a plate with a side salad and some hot, crusty, buttered bread.
This dish comes together quickly and easily doubled, so it’s a great option for taking a hot meal to a new mom or the neighbors who just moved in next door. Just be ready, because they’re certain to ask for the recipe.
This creamy tortellini pasta recipe is so good that you’re not likely to have any leftovers, but in the rare case that you do, let the pasta cool to room temperature, then store it in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.
You can reheat your tortellini on the stovetop, covered in the oven, or in the microwave. Leftover pasta will dry out some, so adding a little broth, milk, or water to your leftovers will help return it to all its saucy glory.
One-Pan Cheesy Tortellini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 chopped small onion
- 4 chopped cloves of garlic
- 1 pound of Italian sausage without the casings
- 2 cups of tomato-based sauce such as marinara
- 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup of half and half
- 1 pound frozen cheese tortellini
- 3 cups baby spinach
- black pepper
- Parmesan or Romano cheese
- Heat the oil in a large pan. When it is hot, but not smoking, stir in the onion and cook for about a minute, stirring frequently.
- Add the chopped garlic and stir for another 2 minutes or until the mixture is aromatic and tender.
- Push the vegetable mixture to the edges of the pan, then add in the ground sausage. Break up the meat as it cooks. Once the sausage is halfway done, stir it together with the onion mixture and continue cooking until it is completely browned.
- Add in the tomato sauce, undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and half and half. Stir and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Add the frozen tortellini, and stir to completely cover the pasta with sauce. Cover and simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 7-8 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Tear the spinach into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle over the pasta. Stir until the spinach begins to wilt. Then, add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve the pasta topped with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.