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Tortellini with Italian Sausage and Fresh Vegetables

08 Sep
Tortellini with Italian Sausage and Fresh Vegetables

A very good friend of mine requested a while back for a recipe that could be done in about 30 minutes. Understandably, as she is not only an Army wife to a special forces soldier, a mother of a daughter with a baby boy on the way, as well as a full time soldier herself with multiple deployments under her belt. She’s a busy woman. In addition, she’s probably one of the most selfless people I know, helping out friends and soldiers alike whenever they are in need. This one is for her.

Trying to come up with an under 30 minute recipe isn’t very easy, however. Many are familiar with the concept of cooking a quick dinner thanks to Rachel Ray’s tv show, as well as the plethora of quick and easy recipes from big food companies such as Kraft and Campbell’s. In either case, most of these meals are prepared from pre-made foods, which are typically processed and/or have funky ingredients in them. I try to keep things as from-scratch as I can when cooking.

I do have a go-to meal that I use quite often when time is short. I buy tortellini or ravioli in the cold section of the commissary, combine it with Italian sausage, and make a pretty simple pasta dish from it. It’s a good compromise when it comes to my concept of scratch cooking, as I would rarely make tortellini or raviolis from scratch anyways, and the quality of these refrigerated pastas are usually pretty good. From start to finish it can take up to 45 minutes with a little multitasking, but if it’s planned out and parts of it are cooked ahead of time, it can easily be cut down to half an hour final cook time.

It’s also a great meal for utilizing any leftover vegetables in the fridge. I always have stuff in my crisper that I’m not sure what to do with. Maybe there’s a small bit of baby spinach in a bag that won’t make enough for a side dish, or I have some asparagus that is starting to dry out and I need to use it quickly. The vegetables I used in this recipe were examples of that, and can be substituted for anything in your fridge that you feel is appropriate.

The following recipe is exactly how I cooked it on this particular iteration, but just keep in mind what I mentioned above. Substitutions are possible and even encouraged in this case!

Tortellini with Italian Sausage and Fresh Vegetables

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of your favorite Italian sausage
  • 1 pint container (or so) of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 bundle of asparagus
  • 1 handful of roasted pearl onions (if you follow my Facebook page, you know where these came from)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    mise en place

    mise en place

Directions:

  1. Brown the sausages on each side on medium heat in a sauté pan. Once browned, add a little water to the pan to prevent burning, and cover. Cook thoroughly, ensuring they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. This step can be done ahead of time and the sausages refrigerated.

    Brown some Sausages

    Daddy would you like some sausages?

  2. Coat the pearl onions in oil, wrap in foil, and roast in the oven set at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes. This step can also be done ahead of time.

    Roast some pearl onions

    I didn’t use rendered beef fat this time.

  3. At this point, it’s good to get a 4 quart pot of water on the stove and turn it on high. Whisk the cornstarch into the chicken stock and set aside.

    Chicken stock

    Corn starchy chicken stock

  4. Slice the asparagus into 2 inch pieces, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and peel and slice the roasted pearl onions in halves or quarters. Set these aside as well.

    prepped veg

    Cuttin some veggies

  5. Slice the cooked sausages thinly on a bias.

    sliced sausage

    Slicin some sausages

  6. Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add a little oil and throw the sliced sausages in the pan to get some more browning on them.

    more browning

    It’s not caramelization, it’s maillard browning

  7. At this point, the water should be coming up to a boil. But first, add the cut vegetables to the pan of sausage and stir it up.

    Add veggies

    Add the veggies

  8. Add the tortellini to the boiling water. Make sure to stir it occasionally and cook it for as long as the package tells you to, probably just a few minutes.

    tortellini

    Cook the tortellini

  9. Give the chicken stock a quick stir, as the cornstarch tends to settle on the bottom, and then pour it into the sauté pan of sausage and vegetables. Give it a stir and turn the heat on high.

    pouring stock

    Pour in the stock

  10. Bring it up to a boil to thicken the sauce a little.

    Boil it

    Bring it to a boil

  11. When the tortellini is done cooking, strain it in a colander. When strained, add it to a large bowl and pour the saucy sausage and vegetable mixture over the top. Mix it up and salt and pepper to taste.

    Toss it

    Toss it all together

  12. Serve it and add a little grated asiago or parmesan cheese if you like.
fini

Tastylicious

Remember, this is an extremely flexible recipe, especially considering the different types of filled tortellini and raviolis you can buy and all the different types of vegetables you could add. For a little kick and variation, add the juice and zest of a whole lemon to the chicken stock and some sliced fresh basil leaves at the end, and it completely changes the flavor of this dish.

If dividing this into six servings, nutrition comes in at the following: 452 calories, 20 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 25 grams of protein per serving.

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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Entree/Main Dish, Food, Italian, Pork

 

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