Thursday, March 13, 2014

Baked Cheese Tortellini with Italian Sausage

Sweet Italian sausage and cheese tortellini baked in a creamy, tomato sauce. It's the perfect pasta dish for a date night at home!

Baked cheese tortellini is one of Mark's favorite dishes. He often orders a similar dish at a local Italian restaurant. Several months ago, he asked if I could make it at home so I experimented and came up with this recipe.

This baked tortellini sounds complicated but it really isn't. The dish combines a very, simple tomato sauce, delicious Italian sausage, tortellini and cheese.

Start by browning Italian sausage, add in onions and garlic and saute together. Add the tomatoes and spices to make a simple tomato sauce. Simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes or until sauce has thickened and spices have bloomed. Once that is complete, remove from heat and stir in a little cream. I do not use a lot, just enough to make the sauce a little creamy. Stir in one package of cheese tortellini, making sure tortellini is evenly coated with sauce. Pour into a baking dish and top with fresh mozzarella. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese melted and bubbly.

Baked Cheese Tortellini with Italian Sausage

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1-14.5 ounce can or 1 3/4 cups of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, optional* 
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream 
  • 1-9 ounce package of cheese tortellini
  • 3-4 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat olive olive oil over medium heat. Add Italian sausage and onions  and cook until sausage has browned and onions have softened. Add garlic and chili flakes and saute for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Stir in tomato paste and saute for one minute. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil and sugar if using. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

3. Add tortellini to sauce and stir until tortellini is coated with sauce. Pour into a oven-safe baking dish and top with mozzarella. Cover with foil. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving. Top with freshly grate Parmesan cheese.

*When using canned tomatoes, they can taste acidic or harsh. I find that adding a little sugar helps soften the acidic flavor and bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Yields: 4 servings

From: Tasteful Cuisine

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