Tortellini with Balsamic Brown Butter

Whether or not to share this recipe with you has been quite the moral dilemma for me.  One of the premises of this food blog is that the recipes are healthful.  In the end, as you can see, I decided that this was healthful for two reasons: 1) I made this at home from scratch (okay, I bought the tortellini) without scary chemicals and preservatives and 2) I added vegetables.

The original recipe is below in black font (with my changes and/or additions in red).

Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter

  • 18 to 20 ounces store-bought ravioli (cheese, mushroom, or squash) I used cheese tortellini
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 8 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan probably closer to 1/2 cup of pecorino romano, which I almost always substitute for Parmesan because it’s a fraction of the price
  • 8 oz frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 14 oz can artichoke hearts (not in oil)


While you’re waiting for the water to boil, toast the walnuts in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.  A toaster oven works perfectly for this.  I miss my toaster oven.  We got one for $2 at the Salvation Army a few years ago.  I swear it was older than I am.  But it finally went the way of all things.
That’s chopped, then measured walnuts.
Thaw the spinach and squeeze as much water out of it as you can.  I thawed mine by placing it in a bowl of water, then draining it in a fine-mesh colander.

Drain the artichokes and gently pull the leaves apart.  I like to think of kitchen tasks like this as contemplative opportunities.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  One of my best tricks for getting dinner on the table fast is to fill a pot of water, put a lid on it, and put it on the stove in the morning before I head out.  When I get home, I don’t even put my things down, but walk straight into the kitchen and turn the burner with the pot on high.  By the time I’m changed and settled, the water is boiling and ready for me.  Don’t salt until the water boils or it will cause pitting in your cookware.  Add the ravioli and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally.  
Bubble, bubble.
Just before draining, dip a ladle or measuring cup into the pot to save 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Drain ravioli onto a large serving platter.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan cook the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the foam subsides, and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes, turn off the heat. Let cool for about 1 minute. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  I used more butter and balsamic vinegar because of the added vegetables.  Yes, those vegetables were supposed to make a more healthful dish, but I wanted it a bit more saucy.

Transfer the ravioli to the pan saucepan with the balsamic brown butter.  Break up the spinach and gently fold into the pasta.  To ‘fold’ just means that you turn up what’s on the bottom of the pot, one gentle stroke at a time.  

Then fold in the artichoke leaves.  Add the cheese and a splash of the cooking liquid.  This helps the cheese to melt and mix more evenly.  It also gives the walnut pieces something to cling to, something to believe in, lest they sink to the bottom in loneliness and despair. 

Sprinkle walnuts and Parmesan over the top.  But I mixed them all together in the pot because I’m lazy. And I wanted more sauce. I always want more sauce.  Serve immediately.  It’s also perfectly fine at room temperature thirty minutes later.


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