Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms
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1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthwise (save chopped fronds for garnish)
1 pound Italian sausage, coarsely crumbled
8 ounces fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed using mortar and pestle
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 package (12 to 16 ounces) tortellini with three-cheese filling
5 to 6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup finely graded Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)
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 fennel and garlic to mixture; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
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.
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 Parmesan 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 Parmesan cheese.
Linda Enders, Port Byron