Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce is super simple, super fast, and super delish! It also has just a bit of a sophisticated air about it, which means it’s a perfect fast meal for a family dinner or great if a friend or two drops by. “Would you like to stay for dinner?” “Umm, yes, please!”
I don’t know about you but I usually have a package of cheese tortellini in the pantry and they are such a great save for those “I have to eat but don’t know what to make and it’s 5:00” nights. Cheese Tortellini can be served plain, tossed with a tomato sauce or Alfredo sauce or you can make this bit of fabulousness. A bit of asparagus, a simple browned butter sauce, a touch of garlic, lemon and herbs and a shaving of cheese and dinner is ready. In under 20 minutes. “Umm, yes, please!”
About Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce:
You’re gonna love the simple flavors of this dish and they’re just a bit unexpected. The tarragon is lovely and leans this dish a bit more toward the French than the Italian side of the spectrum. If you’re not a tarragon fan, a little combo of basil and oregano might be just your thing.
You can easily change this recipe up in a few different ways. Leave out the meat if you’re looking for a vegetarian dish, or use ham or prosciutto. If asparagus isn’t your thing, try sun-dried tomatoes, Slow Roasted Oven Tomatoes, or roasted bell peppers. Feel free to riff and make this dish your own.
The brown butter sauce is subtle and gives this dish just a little hit of panache with the touch of garlic to bring the flavors home. Leftovers are marvelous but get a little dry, though. Add some liquid, a little broth or a touch of water to counteract that. If you want to, pull out a jar of something if you lean that way. Either a tomato or an alfredo sauce will blend so well with the existing flavors and can give this dish an instant makeover.
Making Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce:
I love this recipe because it’s fab, obviously but I love that the pasta and the asparagus are cooked together in the simmering water and then just finished in the browned butter sauce. You’ll just drop the asparagus in after the pasta has a head start.
The biggest trick to making Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce is to really watch that butter. Use a heavy bottomed pan and be ready to immediately add in the pasta (which will immediately cool it down) if it looks as if the butter is getting too hot. If the butter goes too far (you’ll see it separate and dark bits forming) you’ll probably need to start over. Taste it and see; if it tastes good, you’re golden but you’ll know in a heartbeat if it has burnt.
Saving on Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce:
This whole meal is inexpensive, especially if the asparagus is in season and/or on sale. Check Aldi if you have one, for the asparagus. This is even more inexpensive if you leave out the ham (use leftover holiday ham for an inexpensive option) or prosciutto and go totally vegetarian.
When shopping for the tortellini, if cost and convenience is a big consideration, go for the dried tortellini. A fresh, refrigerated tortellini is always going to be more tender and has an edge in the quality department.
The lemon and cheese are just gilding the lily. When serving a dish topped by cheese, you’re going to find that the price is usually less if you buy it by the block or wedge and grate or shave it yourself. I love shaving – less cheese but bigger flavor! I also love Romano over Parmesan. Romano is usually a bit stronger than Parm and costs less. A little goes a long way so it’s a great way to get more “bang for your buck” flavor-wise.
Anytime I buy butter, I stock up. I find great prices at Aldi and also during holiday sales, when butter is often at a discount especially before Thanksgiving and Christmas and before Easter. I literally count out the weeks until the next big holiday sale and buy and freeze the amount I think I’ll use. If you’d like to see specific items on sale during any particular holiday, check out my post Win at the Grocers.
Cheese Tortellini & Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce
A simple but sophisticated dinner ready in under 20 minutes.
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, or if you have a large enough skillet, use that.
If using dried tortellini, add to pot and set timer for 8 minutes when it comes to a boil. After four minutes, add the asparagus ends and at 7 minutes, add the asparagus tips. Test pasta and when al dente, drain.
If using fresh tortellini, add the asparagus stems to the pot and simmer for 1 minute, then the pasta and simmer for two, then the asparagus stems and simmer for an additional minute until pasta is heated through but still al dente. Drain.
For fresh or dried tortellini:
In the pot, add the butter and heat over medium-high heat until butter begins to turn golden brown. Add garlic and prosciutto or ham, if using. Add tarragon. Add the pasta/asparagus back into the pot and toss.
Serve with shavings of Parmesan or Romano and wedges of lemon.
If planning on serving leftovers, do not store with the lemon or Parmesan. They become too strong with time.
Very thin asparagus may need to cook for slightly less time
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