Saturday, January 8, 2011

Home Run!

So we had this poor little sad bag of tortellini in our cupboards. The lawyer and I both agreed that one of us could eat the whole 8 oz bag by ourselves so I had to find a way to beef the dish up. I promptly dug through all of my food magazines and found this little gem from Bon Appétit: Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel and Mushrooms. I tend to find Bon Appétit recipes slightly intimidating with all their long and crazy list of ingredients but this one seemed manageable (especially since they weren't making their own tortellini!!). I was also skeptical of cooking with fennel as it is not one of my favorite flavors. However, I am learning to appreciate cooked fennel but still abhor fennel seeds so I omitted them from the recipe. I did add the fennel fronds for garnish and while they looked pretty I thought they kind of tasted like seaweed and would probably omit them in the future. This dish was surprising simple and easy to make. It tasted delicious and I will be making it in the future for a dinner party. I served up this scrumptious dish with some local artisan bread with Pino’s Press Tuscan Herb Dipping Oil from Syracuse on my new Vermont Bread Board (side note: make sure you always screw the cap on tightly after using any bottled substance. Evidently I did not do this after the pita chip experiments and when I went to shake the bottle BAM! Olive oil on my floor! While it was only around two tablespoons it looked like a ton and my kitchen still smells like a well seasoned Italian kitchen) 
Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel and Mushrooms 
(this is the full recipe, I halved it because I only had 8 oz of tortellini)
(Bon Appétit, December 2010) 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups), fronds chopped
1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage coarsely crumbled
1 8-ounce package sliced fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms (of course we added extra!)
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed (completely omitted by Jenni)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 16-ounce package dried tortellini with pesto filling or fresh tortellini with 3-cheese filling
1 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)
1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel bulb, sausage, 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, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook tortellini in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini; return to same pot.
3. Add sausage mixture to tortellini in pot. Toss over medium heat until blended. Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese; add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if dry. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds, and serve, passing additional cheese.
Mr. Lawyer said it was a “home run” and it reheated wonderfully the next day. I definitely recommend it to anyone!


  1. We enjoyed this when you had us all over for dinner. I can say it's wonderful and am so glad to see the recipe here! Love the blog by the way and enjoy knowing that the lawyer is eating better than he has his entire life! Great job.

  2. Thanks Mrs. T! I'm glad everyone liked it.

  3. Hi Cricket, we are the owners of Pino's Press and just came across your mention of our Tuscan Herb Oil on your blog, what a wonderful surprise. We really appreciate your shout out and would love to send you a bottle of oil on the house (especially since some ended up on your kitchen floor!) Please send us an e-mail with your address and the flavor of oil you would like to try, we have many new flavors including new Balsamic Infused Olive Oils, so go to our website, and you can e-mail us from there. Thanks again! Chef Michael and Chef Maria