February 5, 2014

Brown-Butter Tortellini with Spinach, Ham, and Red Pepper

Willem has been pretty adorable at helping me come up with ideas of what to make for dinner lately. Sometimes his ideas aren't actually real things: "Macaroni and cheese sandwiches?!" Um, no. Sometimes they don't make a lot of sense, but he's trying. "Maybe some rooster meat?" (We eat chicken, so why not rooster?) But several times lately he has hit the nail on the head with something that is right up my alley for a weeknight: "Um...egg burritos!" (I fried up some onion and diced potatoes, serving his on the side of course, and added some grated cheese and salsa, some chopped leftover cilantro since we had it.) "Ham and cheese sandwiches!" (I grilled them and added apple and mustard, and another week made them as Monte Cristos.) So just the other week when he requested "tor-tuh-weenie!!" when we were having this dinner-brainstorming conversation, this recipe popped right to mind.

I first had it about seven years ago at a Pampered Chef party (there is no shortage of such parties in teacher crowds, it turns out). It is as simple as it gets, just chop and toss. But it is good and I feel like it's worth posting if only so I have a place to go to next time we make it where I don't have to skim through the product placement in bold, capital letters sprinkled throughout the directions in the cookbook.

The brown butter really is scrumptious and adds depth. It's a great technique to keep in mind for other uses and is just a matter of a few minutes more patience after the butter is melted. It's a perfect coating for the salty cubes of ham, the just-slightly-crunchy red pepper, and cheesy pasta.    

Naturally, Willem carefully picks every leaf of spinach off of his as he goes, but they are whole leaves (easy to pick off) so he's cool with that, and I figure, maybe he's getting some residual nutrients from it being tossed with spinach. Until he learns how to say the /l/ sound, I love that he "WUVS this dinner!" and the look of pride on his face when I responded, "You know why we're having this dinner? Because you thought of it."

Brown-Butter Tortellini with Spinach, Ham, and Red Pepper
from Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner
20 oz. cheese-filled frozen tortellini
6 oz. baby spinach
8 oz. cooked ham steak, diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 C butter
coarsely ground black pepper

Bring water to boil and cook tortellini. Place spinach in large colander. Drain tortellini over spinach to quickly wilt it.

Put butter in large 12" skillet over medium heat 5 - 7 minutes or until it is a deep brown color, occasionally swirling skillet. Immediately add pepper. Reduce heat to low. Add ham, tortellini, and spinach. Gently toss to coat. Season with black pepper.

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