Buffet Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel, and Mushroom

A splash of cream is the secret to achieving a buffet indulgent, delicious pasta sauce on a weeknight.

Buffet Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel, and Mushroom

Buffet Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel, and Mushroom


    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved through the core, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups), fronds chopped
    • 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage coarsely crumbled
    • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh crimini (baby Bella) mushrooms
    • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
    • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
    • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
    • 1 (16-ounce) package dried tortellini with pesto filling or fresh tortellini with 3-cheese filling
    • 1 (5-ounce) package fresh baby spinach leaves
    • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)


    1. Heat oil in a 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 garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened 2 to 3 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, cook tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini; return to same pot.
    3. Add sausage mixture to tortellini in a pot. Toss over medium heat until blended. Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts. Stir in 1/2 cup 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 cheese.
Test Kitchen Tip
To crush the fennel seeds, enclose the seeds in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, then pound them with a meat mallet or a small heavy skillet.

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