Lessons from the Kitchen; Creamy Tortellini


Diced onion

Minced garlic

16 oz sausage

20 oz tortellini

28 oz crushed tomato

Chicken broth

2 tbsp cream cheese

16 oz spinach

16 oz shredded cheese

Spices (depend on personal taste)

Saute the onions until fragrant and translucent. Add sausage, garlic, and desired spices, and cook until sausage is browned.

Add tortellini, tomato, and broth. Bring to a boil, then turn to medium low and simmer until tortellini is cooked through and the liquid is reduced. 

Add spinach and cream cheese, stirring until spinach is wilted.

Add shredded cheese and combine. Serve.

This is one of my husband’s favorite meals, and I love it, too. I don’t think I’ve ever had an Italian dish I didn’t like, so it’s no surprise I like this one. However, there is a lot of room for creativity with this recipe. 

Substituting a different flavor of sausage, different spices, and different cheese could give this dish an entirely different flavor. While I normally make it with Italian sausage, seasoning, and cheese, I really want to experiment with it.

One of my ideas has been a breakfast style dish. I think a breakfast sausage and cheddar cheese would be a great flavor combo. I also want to try Mexican flavors, by using chorizo sausage, a Mexican cheese, and a spice mix of chili powder, cumin, and paprika. I might even try adding black beans instead of spinach to the Mexican version. 

This is a great meal to practice your recipe creativity with. It is easy to halve, which would let you practice without committing to the entire 8 servings that the original recipe makes. I encourage experimentation with all cooking recipes, though baking is a different case. I hope this dish helps you get more comfortable with altering recipes.

I have a few suggestions for how to change this recipe, in addition to the different flavor profiles I talked about above. I think the vegetable aspect would be easy to change, and in fact the original recipe I adapted this one from didn’t have any vegetables in it. You could try corn, sweet peas, kale, even potatoes. Just make sure to adapt the cooking time accordingly. Something like potatoes would take a while to cook, whereas the kale could be added at the end, like the spinach. I don’t personally like kale, but I know a lot of people love it.

You could also use ravioli instead of tortellini, and I would like to make a seafood version one day. I love lobster ravioli, and I think this could be a great dish with lobster ravioli and shrimp. A cajun flavor profile would also be really good, I think. Andouille sausage and a cajun spice mix, maybe some shrimp, sounds really good.

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