When I woke up this morning it was 34 degrees! There’s a cold spell rolling through NM with snowfall in the northern mountains. But even though it was near freezing this morning, the sun is out and it feels warmer with every passing hour. With the cooler weather upon us I had a craving for a bowl of soothing pasta. I made a grocery run and picked up fresh ingredients to make tomato sauce with spinach and basil. That combined with Italian sausage and cooked tortellini made a pasta dish that was made for comfort. We had a leafy green salad with toasted bread, olive oil and dipping spices on the side. Simple yet tasty!
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add a link of Italian sausage and use a wooden spoon to break apart and separate. I used a 12 inch cast iron braising pan with a lid. Any large skillet, cast iron or nonstick that has a lid will work well.
Cook several minutes, tossing the sausage as it browns in the pan.
Add 1/2 cup of chopped onion and 1 – 2 cloves minced garlic to the pork and saute as they begin to soften and become translucent.
Add a 16 ounce pack of campari tomatoes that have been cut in half or quartered. Stir the tomatoes in with the sausage, onions and garlic. Turn the heat down to medium and place a lid on top. Let the tomatoes steam and soften.
Time to start the tortellini. Bring a 3 quart pot of water to boil.
Add 12 ounces of pasta and cook according to package directions.
Back to the sauce. The tomatoes are breaking down and softening after a few minutes.
Add 1 cup of chicken stock and stir.
Thicken the sauce with 1/2 can or 3 ounces of tomato paste.
Add a pinch of sugar to counter the acidity of the tomatoes.
When the pasta is ready, drain it and add to the pot along with the sauce.
Stir the pot so that the pasta is evenly distributed in the sauce.
I picked up a “bunch” of spinach, rinsed and ran it through a salad spinner. I chopped about half of the spinach and added to the pasta. The spinach will wilt in no time as you gently stir it in. You can substitute 1/2 bag of spinach if you want.
When the spinach is sufficiently wilted, add the chopped basil. Give it a stir or two and your pasta is ready. Salt to taste.
Tortellini, Sausage and Spinach with Fresh Tomato Sauce
1 (12 ounce) package Tortellini
1 Italian Sausage Link
1/2 cup Onion, diced
1 – 2 cloves Garlic, grated on a microplane grater
1 (16 ounce) pack Campari Tomatoes
1 cup Chicken Broth, I used Better than Bouillon dissolved in water
3 ounces Tomato Paste
Pinch of Sugar
1/2 bunch Spinach, rinsed, spun and chopped
2 tablespoons Basil, roughly chopped
Salt to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove the casing from the link of Italian sausage and add to the hot pan. Use a wooden spoon to break apart and separate the sausage. Stir often as the sausage begins to brown. When browned, add the chopped onion and garlic to the pan. Stir the pan and saute as the onion and garlic begin to soften and become translucent. When softened, add the tomatoes to the pan, lower the heat to medium and place a lid on top.
Prepare a 3 quart pot with enough water to cover the pasta. Bring the water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
Back to the sauce: When the tomatoes have softened and begin to release their juice, add the chicken broth to the mix and 1/2 can (3 ounces) tomato paste. Stir to combine. The sauce should begin to thicken as it heats up. Add a pinch of sugar to the sauce to counter the acidity of the tomatoes. When the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the sauce and stir to evenly distribute throughout the sauce. Add the roughly chopped spinach and gently stir in with the pasta and sauce sauce as it begins to wilt. When the spinach is evenly distributed in with the sauce, add the chopped basil and stir just to combine. Salt to taste.
Makes 4 servings.
Bread Dipping Spices
1 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Turkish Oregano
1 teaspoon Parsley
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
Mix herbs together and store in a small container secured with a lid.
Drizzle olive oil in a small shallow bowl and add the amount of spices you want to dip bread.