Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tortellini with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

During the week we try to cook as much as possible.  It keeps us from overspending on take out, & keeps me from overeating large amounts pizza or chinese....or anything else that can be ordered & delivered without me having to leave my little spot on the couch.  Part of making the 'cook at home' weeknight pledge means that I have to have an arsenal of quick, easy recipes. 

One of my favorites is a quick & easy pasta recipe that is inspired by a dish I've had several times at the Austin location of Taverna, Fiocchi al Gorgonzola e Pera.  Taverna's deliciously rich plate includes gorgonzola & pear filled pasta with arugula & walnuts in a dolce latte cream sauce.  Wow, it's so good.  The blend of the tangy gorgonzola with the nuttiness from the walnuts goes perfectly with the brightness of the pears & the smoothness of the sauce.

I've come up with a shortcut pasta dish that packs in all of the flavor of that awesome restaurant meal, but is quick enough for any weeknight in.  And cheaper too!

Tortellini with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

1/2 medium onion, diced
2 tsp. Olive Oil
2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 green apples, diced
1 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 - 2 cups heavy cream or half & half
2 -3 large handfuls fresh baby spinach, diced
1 container crumbled gorgonzola
1 container shaved or grated parmesan
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
Black pepper, salt to taste
Zest & juice of 1 lemon

1 Large, family size package fresh cheese tortellini

Start by filling a large stock or pasta pot with water & putting it on the stove to boil.  While your water is coming to a boil, start sauce (instructions below).  Cook tortellini according to package directions, mine was 7 - 9 minutes.  And remember to generously salt your pasta water -- always a must!

While waiting for the pasta water to come to a boil, dice the onion, green apple & baby spinach.  Put the cream or half & half in a small sauce pot & warm over low heat.  Using a heavy bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil & butter over medium heat, just until butter is melted.  Throw in diced onions & cook until just softened, then add in green apples & cook  a few minutes more.  Be careful not to cook the apples down too much, or they will loose alot of their flavor & texture.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over the apples/onions mixture & stir, allowing the flour to 'cook out' the rawness.  This should only take a minute or so.  The flour should be incorporated into the mixture, making it very thick.  Slowly, pour in the cream or half & half that has been warming, whisking while doing so to incorporate.

Increase the heat to medium high & bring the sauce to a bubble, still whisking every so oftern to insure that everything is incorporated.  Once the sauce begins to bubble, cook for about 10 minutes, letting the sauce thicken.  Once the sauce is thicken, whisk in the cheeses & the spinach.   To melt in the cheese, whisk in a figure 8 pattern.  It's a trick I picked up from watching Rachael Ray & it works really well.  After a few minutes, the cheese should be melted into the sauce & the spinach should be wilted & incorporated.  Add salt & pepper to taste, as well as the zest & juice of 1 lemon.  If the sauce is too thick, add in a little extra half & half or cream, until it's the desire texture.  Add in the cooked tortellini.  

Let the pasta dish sit for just a minute or two longer on the stove, while toasting up the chopped walnuts in a small skillet over medium heat.  Watch the walnuts very closely, as they'll toast up quickly, usually within a minute or two.  If you can smell them, remove them from the heat immediately.  They're ready!  I like to leave the pasta in the skillet over a little bit of heat to keep everything hot & let everything meld together.  

Serve with toasted walnuts on top & extra parmesan or gorgonzola if desired.        


  1. Is there a reason this recipe uses apples instead of pears?

  2. Great question QuantumJ! It's really just personal preference. You could absolutely use pears & it would be great, I just like the taste of apples better. Thanks for reading!

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