Tortellini and Sausage with Spinach

This simple dish is easy enough to make on a busy weeknight and decadent enough to enjoy on a special occasion!

My family love all types of processed meats!

I’m talking bacon, sausage, deli meats, salami, you name it they can’t get enough.

However, processed meats tend to be pretty high in saturated fat and sodium. So instead of making them the main star of a dish, I treat them like a condiment. A little goes a long way!

My tortellini dish is made with a cream cheese sauce, a little spicy pork sausage, and one of my favorite veggies, spinach.

Oh, and of course, plenty of garlic!

How to Make Tortellini and Sausage

First, boil 8 ounces of tortellini a few minutes under al dente, and set aside. It’ll cook more in the sauce.

Then heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. You can also omit the oil if there’s a lot of fat in the sausage.

Add 1-2 links of hot Italian sausage (casing removed) to the skillet and use a wooden spoon break it up into little pieces. Sauté it for 5-8 minutes or until browned.

Meanwhile, heat chicken broth and milk in a large measuring cup and set aside.

Next add 1 tablespoon minced garlic to the skillet and sauté for 1 minute, followed by 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste.

Continue stirring until the paste starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. The tomato paste adds acidity and tanginess that pairs well with the spiciness of the sausage.

Now stir in 2 ounces or 1/4 block cream cheese until it softens and starts to melt. Slowly add 1 cup milk and 3/4-1 cup chicken broth and whisk until the sauce is smooth.

Finally stir in the cooked tortellini and 4-5 cups washed and drained baby spinach. Continue cooking until mixture has thickened and is creamy, about 1-3 minutes more.

Turn off heat and add 1/2-1 cup grated parmesan, stirring until it has melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Let the dish sit for at least 5 minutes. As it cools slightly, it will thicken further and become more creamy.

Variations

This is such a versatile recipe, you can easily adapt it to your family’s preferences.

Use a milder sausage or add less garlic. If spinach is not your favorite vegetable, try substituting with green peas, broccoli, or asparagus.

Don’t like parmesan? Try cheddar or gruyere. There are also different varieties of tortellini you can buy, like pesto or four cheese.

Or turn the whole dish into a creamy soup by adding more broth and some frozen multi-vegetables.

Kids’ Ratings:
10 year-old: “I like the rich taste of the sauce, the juiciness of the tortellini, and the saltiness of the sausage.”
7 year-old: “It’s tender and creamy, and delicious.”

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Skillet with tortellini and sausage in creamy spinach sauce.

Tortellini and Sausage with Spinach

Joby’s Test Kitchen
Tortellini, spicy sausage, and fresh spinach all come together in a creamy sauce.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 535 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Skillet

Ingredients
  

  • ½ lb (8oz) tortellini
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 link hot Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1-2 tbsps tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ block (2oz) cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk
  • ¾ to 1 cup (240ml) chicken broth
  • 4-5 cups baby spinach, rinsed
  • ½-1 cup (1-2 oz) grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Boil the pasta a few minutes under al dente, and set aside. It'll cook more in the sauce.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat (I usually omit the oil since there's enough fat in the sausage).
  • Add sausage to skillet and using a wooden spoon break it up into little pieces. Sauté for 5-8 minutes until browned. Meanwhile, heat chicken broth and milk in a large measuring cup and set aside.
  • Next add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, followed by the tomato paste. Continue stirring until the paste starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Now stir in the cream cheese until it softens and starts to melt. Slowly add the milk and broth and whisk until the sauce is smooth.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta and spinach and continue cooking until mixture has thickened and is creamy, about 1-3 minutes more.
  • Turn off heat and add parmesan, stirring until it has melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the dish sit for at least 5 minutes. As it cools slightly, it will thicken further and become more creamy.
Keyword cream cheese, pasta, sausage, spinach, tortellini