by Mike Bradley
Every good meal starts somewhere. This one started with an Ibotta coupon for tortellini, an excessive amount of arugula and an experiment – and became one of my favorite ways to have tortellini.
Our grocery store only carried a huge container of baby arugula, of which we only used a handful or two when we made our BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza. Surprisingly, we found the arugula kept well, staying fresh in the crisper drawer for well over a week. We were wracking our brains trying to figure out what to do with it all, when Amy suggested we try using it similarly to spinach. I was skeptical, but it actually worked pretty well. So that is one aspect of this dish you could replace – with spinach if you prefer.
Tomato Alfredo sauce wound up being the result of an experiment attempting to create an olive oil based sauce with tomatoes. I was pan roasting some cherry tomatoes with herbs (oregano and basil) to add to the dish with an oil sauce. Once roasted I couldn’t help myself but put those tomatoes into the food processor to purée them. Well puréed tomatoes certainly weren’t going to work in what I had planned. So I called an audible because I knew we had some fresh Parmesan cheese and always have heavy cream around. So I heated up the cream with some half and half a little butter, stirred in the puréed tomatoes and after simmering awhile added loads of Parmesan and some more basil.
Pour that over some freshly cooked tortellini and add some pieces of hot sausage and voila! You have yourself this dish. It’s very simple to make and carries a wide range of flavors so it definitely pleases the palate. The sausage can be subbed for sweet sausage or left off entirely as Amy chose to do. We made 3 large servings with this recipe, probably more like 4-5 normal servings. So you can adjust the recipe as needed but leftovers are always great too.
Creamy Tomato Alfredo Tortellini with Sautéed Arugula and Hot Sausage Recipe
- 1 package (20 oz) Buitoni Three Cheese Tortellini
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 tbsp butter
- 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, roasted and puréed
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Dried basil, to taste
- Dried oregano, to taste
- 1 or 2 large handfuls of baby arugula*
- Hot sausage links*
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add sausage links to the boiling water and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside, cooling it slightly and then slice into rounds. Do not drain the water – keep it on the burner.
- Add tomatoes to a medium pan with a small amount of olive oil, basil and oregano. Roast until soft.
- Once water is boiling again, add the tortellini and let it cook for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring regularly at a low boil. The tortellini will be extra flavorful by absorbing the hot sausage flavor in the water.
- As the pasta cooks, begin sautéing the arugula with a bit of olive oil. Allow it to get soft and wilt a bit but do not over cook as it may get too mushy.
- Bring butter, half and half, and cream to a simmer. In the meantime, purée the tomatoes in the food processor. Add parmesan and tomato purée to the cream mixture. Stir well, adding additional basil or oregano as needed.
- Place sliced and parboiled sausage in a medium pan with olive oil. Sauté until browned on each side.
- Strain the tortellini, then place in a large bowl. Add arugula and sausage, then top with the sauce. Toss until it is well coated and all ingredients are distributed evenly. Serve warm.
*Customizations: You can substitute arugula with baby spinach, or leave it out entirely. You can also substitute hot sausage for sweet sausage, or omit from the recipe. We added the sausage to half.
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