Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winter's Back/Comfort Food Needed

Ah, confusion.  What happened to the swimming pond last night?

     This recipe is great for a chilly night.  It comes together rather quickly and can be ready for the table within an hour. Yes, I have made this more than one.  The fennel creates and interesting and nice flavor - don't leave it out.  Otherwise, you just have meat and pasta.
     I made a few changes that I've noted in ( ).  Unless it is for a special occasion or simply can't be done, I try to replace  heavy cream in recipes.  It just has too many calories.
    This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit.  Search their recipes to find it.

Tortellini with Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms
1  tbsp olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups), fronds chopped
1 lb. Italian sausage (hot or sweet, or chorizo)
1 8-ounce package sliced fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms (I used one pound white mushrooms)
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I used half-and-half plus potato starch flour to thicken)
1 cup chicken broth (needed more to keep it from being too dry)
1 16-ounce pkg. dried tortellini with pesto filling or fresh tortellini with 3-cheese filling
1 5-ounce pkg fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (extra for serving)
     Cook tortellini until tender, but still firm. 
     Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and begin to brown.  Then add fennel and mushrooms; sauté until sausage is brown and cooked through and fennel is almost tender, 12 to 15 minutes.   
     Add garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream (half-and-half), then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.  (Add potato starch flour to thicken if using half-and-half.) 
    Add tortellini to sausage. Toss over medium heat until blended. Add spinach; toss until spinach wilts. Stir in cheese. If too dry add small amounts of chicken broth/ half-and-half as desired. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds. Pass additional grated cheese.

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