Night at the Improv Tortellini

And by the "Improv," I mean our kitchen.

We had some store bought tortellini to eat last we prepared to go out of town for Reading Week. This recipe is based on one for spaghetti or other plain pasta shape, but the cheese tortellini were easy to combine with the other ingredients. Basically the sauce is a grown up version of macaroni and cheese, where the cheese is Pecorino Romano. It was delicious! We add some vegetables in order to clean out the fridge and bulk it up somewhat: red pepper, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and garlic. It will probably be my weeknight pasta back up plan from now on.

Tortellini with Cheese and Pepper
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 package of cheese or other tortellini
1-2 cups of spinach
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
4 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
Salt (optional, or as needed).

Cook tortellini according to the package directions, al dente. Meanwhile, add 2 tbs olive oil to a sauce pan over medium heat. Saute red pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. Set aside.
When pasta is cooked through, drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water. Rinse and dry pasta pot, and add 1/4 cup olive oil. Heat until almost smoking, then add 1 cup of reserved water. Stand back, since this will splatter!
Add butter, 3 oz of cheese, and pepper, and stir to combine. Add cooked tortellini, sauteed vegetables, spinach, and tomatoes. Toss everything to combine it. You may need to add salt (but probably not, since this is salty already), or more pasta water, if too thick. Sprinkle extra cheese and/or pepper on top of each serving.


  1. I eat almost all of those things! How exciting.

  2. Sara, if you can make Kraft Mac n' cheese, you can make this. Soooo good.