Recipe: Three Cheese Tortellini and Sweet Italian Sausage in a Simple Tomato Sauce

So, I decided to keep dinner simple last night (plus, I wanted to make a fool-proof dish for my dad, to make up for the strange, sweet pasta dish from the other night). Three cheese tortellini, which can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store (either near the deli, or sometimes over near dairy, with the random selections of packaged lunch meats and cheeses), makes this meal a little more exciting that just a simple sausage-and-tomato pasta dish, and they’re easy to prepare (you cook them just like you would regular pasta).

Serves: 4
Prep. time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy


  • 1 lb. three-cheese tortellini (other varieties can be substituted)
  • Olive oil, enough to lightly coat the bottom of a medium pan
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, meat pulled apart into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1, 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dried Italian seasoning, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Add olive oil and butter to a medium pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the sausage bits and cook until just cooked through and lightly browned on the outside. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for one minute, then add the diced tomatoes, sauce, paste, and seasonings. Cook over low heat. While the sausage and tomato sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions (approx. 7-10 minutes). Drain the finished pasta and return to the pot. Add the sausage and tomato mixture to the pasta and gently toss to combine. Serve with grated Italian cheese (Pecorino-Romano’s saltiness is a nice touch in this dish), as desired.
This dish is simple, can be made quickly, and is quite filling. Adding sausage to the tortellini and sauce mixture adds a little texture and extra flavor, and crushed red pepper flakes add a little spiciness that kicks the dish up a bit. If you want a little more heat, use hot Italian sausage instead of the sweet Italian sausage. This is the perfect dish to serve with a glass of spicy, woody red wine, and it’s great the next day.

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