Friday, December 3, 2010
Although the weekend is upon us, I made this as a quickie weeknight dinner. Many of my pasta dishes are created in the same way, while cleaning out the fridge. Earlier this week, as the first snowflakes fluttered gently to the ground outside my kitchen window, I took inventory of my refrigerator contents, then I dreamed up this dish. I had decided to use up the rest of the artichokes from the Chicken-Artichoke Turnovers featured in my last post, stir in some roasted red peppers that have been floating in a jar on my condiment shelf, and chop that baby spinach from my crisper that was starting to look a little "less crisp" around the edges. As I looked at the ingredients, my thoughts turned to that warm, cheesy spinach-artichoke dip that you might order off the appetizer menu at a restaurant. "Oh, yeah" I thought. "This could work!"
And it did.
I began the whole recipe by browning a pound of Italian sausage. However, I only used half of a pound in this recipe. I refrigerated the rest for spaghetti sauce or pizza topping later in the week. Once the sausage is browned, remove it to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
To the drippings in the pan, I stirred in a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a shallot (because it needed to be used....all garlic would be fine here if you don't happen to have a shallot.), and around 3/4 cup of chopped artichoke hearts. Saute for a few minutes.
I stirred the sausage back into the mixture and then decided that I needed some color, so I grabbed for the roasted red peppers and chopped a few before tossing them into the mix. Next, I poured in 2 cups of half and half. Then I brought the whole dish to a low boil and....
stirred in a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese, until melted.
To make myself feel better about the cream and cheese and sausage...and also because I like spinach...I stirred in 2-4 cups of chopped fresh baby spinach.
Once the spinach wilts, stir in a 9-12 oz package of cooked tortellini. I used plain cheese tortellini, but you can go with your flavor of choice. Shopping tip: I've noticed that the tortellini is fairly pricey in the refrigerator section of my local supermarket. I found the package of tortellini that I used in this dish at ALDI for a better price. If you don't have an ALDI nearby, my sister tipped me off that Walmart sells a reasonably priced tortellini in their freezer section also. Or...you could always make your own...you know, if you've got 5 hours to spare.
And that's dinner. I hope your families enjoy this one as much as mine did!
Krista's Spinach Artichoke Tortellini
1/2 lb Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
3/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
2 cups half and half
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2-4 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
9-12 oz package tortellini, cooked according to package directions
Salt and pepper, to taste
Brown sausage in a large skillet, breaking up as it cooks. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. In the same skillet, saute shallot, garlic, artichoke, and roasted red pepper in the sausage drippings. Return the sausage to the skillet. Stir in half and half. Bring to a low boil. Stir in Parmesan until melted. Stir in spinach until wilted. Add cooked tortellini and toss to coat in the sauce.
*Lighten it up: Turkey Italian sausage would work really well in this dish. You could also use less cheese. And finally, whole milk or light milk, thickened with flour would bring down the fat content.
I hope that you're all having a lovely Friday!