Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Tortellini with Caramelized Onions


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Caramelized Onions

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions large
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Creamy pasta sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 08 oz mushrooms (I used crimini mushrooms)
  • 8 oz spinach
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 9 oz tortellini (I used 3-cheese tortellini, refrigerated)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper when serving


How to caramelized onions (this can be done a day or 2 in advance):

  • Peel the onions, wash them and thinly slice them.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add sliced onions and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring with the spatula.
  • Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking the onions for 10 more minutes, continuing to stir, as onions brown even more without burning. At this point add a pinch of salt over the onions.
  • Continue cooking for 10 more minutes on medium or low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn.
  • In total, you should have cooked onions for 30 minutes.  Remove the onions from the skillet onto a plate. 

How to make the creamy sauce

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet on medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook mushrooms for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, until mushrooms are soft.
  • Add fresh spinach to the skillet and stir on low heat just until spinach starts to wilt.
  • Add back the caramelized onions.
  • Add 1 cup of heavy cream and ¼ teaspoon salt to the mushroom and spinach mixture and bring to a quick boil. Immediately reduce to simmer.  Keep stirring while the sauce simmers for a couple of minutes. 

Add tortellini

  • Cook tortellini according to package instructions.   Usually, that means to bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add tortellini and boil for 7 to 10 minutes.  Drain.
  • Add cooked and drained tortellini to the creamy sauce. Stir on low heat for a couple of minutes to reheat.
  • Top with cracked black pepper when serving.


Helpful Tips about Caramelized Onions.

  • Make-ahead tip.  Make caramelized onions ahead of time, refrigerate them in an air-tight container, and use within the next 3 days. 
  • You can also freeze caramelized onions for up to 2 months and thaw them whenever you need them.

Substitutions for heavy cream

  • Half-and-half. You can use 1 cup of half-and-half instead of heavy cream.  Bring half-and-half to boil, then add 1/s cup of shredded Parmesan cheese.  Reduce to simmer.  Keep stirring while the sauce simmers until the cheese melts.
  • Coconut milk. Use 1 cup of coconut milk to replace 1 cup of heavy cream.  Follow the recipe as is.

Other Substitutions 

  • Use button mushrooms, portobello, cremini, shiitake or oyster mushrooms.
  • Good substitutes for spinach are kale and arugula.
  • You can also use pre-made ravioli, gnocchi or short pasta (such as bow-tie or penne pasta) instead of tortellini.
  • Substitute tortellini with gluten-free ravioli or gluten-free short pasta, such as gluten-free bow tie pasta.  You can also use gluten-free gnocchi (be sure to check the packaging as not all gnocchi is gluten-free).
  • Protein.  You can add grilled steak, pork chops, or chicken.  You can also serve this with fish, shrimp, or scallops.


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