Brown Butter Tortellini With Roasted Squash
Nothing elevates store-bought tortellini like a sage infused brown butter sauce with toasted walnuts. It takes simple store-bought pasta and transforms it into a stunning dish perfect for a special occasion or date night but easy enough for the midweek. Brown butter and sage are a winning fall combo and the combo is complete when you throw in some squash, sweet potatoes or pumpkin. So that is what we did here - we added sweet roasted delicata squash for a sweet creamy addition and toasted crunchy walnuts for extra flavour and texture to this delicious pasta. Crispy sage is quite trendy for a reason- it tastes amazing. It only takes about a minute to make the sage crispy, and it really makes all the difference in the tortellini brown butter sauce. Sometimes simple recipes are the best, and sage butter sauce is no exception. The perfect fall pasta!
What is Brown Butter?
Brown butter is regular butter that has been cooked just long enough to toast the milk solids found in the butter. It’s not a new thing. It’s an easy-to-learn long existing French cooking technique that adds a complex and nutty flavor to all kinds of sweet and savory recipes. The French just know! I love using it in both savoury and sweet recipes like my Brown Butter Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, Chestnut Bread With A Brown Butter Chocolate Whipped Ganache, Brown Butter Garlic Maple Roasted Carrots, Brown Butter Nutella Banana Bread, Brown Butter Maple Pumpkin Pie and my Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake. They are all favourites on the blog and I totally get why - brown butter really adds a delicious flavour to just about anything! Especially in the fall when simply the smell of brown butter conjures up warm and cozy food feelings.
How to make Brown Butter
Sure you could just use regular butter but why not step it up with this amazing flavour booster that only takes an extra few minutes to make. It’s worth it. As you melt the butter and continue to heat it, the milk solids “cook” in the fat, turning them brown. These little golden brown specks are like liquid gold. They create a very rich, nutty, deep flavor that heightens and intensifies all baked goods. It smells heavenly as it browns, sort of like roasted hazelnuts. It doesn’t take very long but it’s good to be there by your pan to swirl or stir the butter around occasionally until it’s golden brown and fragrant - you don’t want it to burn which can happen quickly if you walk away from it.
Ingredients for Brown Butter Tortellini with Roasted Squash:
Here’s what you’ll need to make this happen, with a few helpful notes on each ingredient:
- Delicata squash - delicata squash is similar to butternut squash, but a little smoother and more mild tasting. It’s often referred to as the “sweet potato” of squash for its similar texture. It’s usually yellow and often speckled with green. It also has an edible thin skin so need to peel. Feel free to use a small pumpkin in its place just make sure and peel the skin on the pumpkin
- Tortellini - I use the fresh kind of tortellini that’s sold in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. You could definitely use frozen, just be mindful of cooking time (it may take a little longer to boil it). You could also use ravioli (even meat-filled ones), or plain pasta if you wish.
- Walnuts - I love the flavour of the walnuts and sage butter but this would also be great with hazelnuts or even almonds. If you are nut free just omit or use some pumpkin seeds in their place for a little crunch.
- Butter - I like to use unsalted so I can salt to taste, but use whatever you keep on hand. This recipe uses a whole stick - yes I repeat a whole stick of it. It’s a decadent pasta that is absolutely delicious but definitely not a pasta you should be eating daily - a little FYI
- Fresh sage leaves - simple but impactful addition! There is nothing like crispy toasted/fried sage leaves
- Olive oil, and thyme for roasting the squash and salt, and pepper to taste
How to make Brown Butter Tortellini with Roasted Squash:
- Prep and Roast the squash: Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds and then cut each half into ¼ inch slices. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme and roast until tender and caramelized
- Boil Tortellini- Boil it to Al dente or according to the package directions and then drain reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water
- Make the brown butter sauce - place the butter and the walnuts in a large skillet (you could toast the walnuts separately but that would require an extra step - I love when I can two-birds-one-stone a step). I use a large Stainless steal one I have - a light coloured skillet will help you see the browning process a little easier than if you used a dark cast iron skillet. Allow it to melt and then bubble and brown and the walnuts will toast in the butter - then add the sage and it will get nice and crispy in the brown butter while infusing the sauce with its sage’y goodness!
- Put it all together - gently toss in the drained Tortellini and the squash and add some of the starchy reserved pasta water to create a silky sauce. Test for salt and pepper the serve immediately while it’s hot with some grated Parmesan.
Other Tortellini recipes you may like:
For the roasted squash:
- 1 medium size delicata squash or small pumpkin, peeled if using pumpkin, seeds removed and sliced
- 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Add salt and pepper to taste
For the brown butter tortellini
- 500g spinach and ricotta tortellini (or sausage and ricotta or any filling you like)
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ teaspoon of chili flakes (optional)
- 10-12 fresh sage sprigs, leaves picked
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Roast squash/pumpkin: Place sliced squash on a large lined or greased baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Transfer to oven and roast 20-35 min until tender and caramelised at the edges.
- Cook Tortellini: Towards the end of the squash cooking time, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add the tortellini and cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain and reserve a cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce.
- Brown butter and toast nuts: While the pasta cooks, put a large skillet pan over low-medium heat and add the butter. Add the walnuts to the pan, tossing to coat them evenly in the warm butter. Let it melt, then bubble, then begin to turn brown, swirling the pan occasionally, approx 4-5 minutes. Stir in the sage leaves and allow to toast in the golden butter mix.
- Put it all together: Toss the roasted squash and tortellini into the pan, adding a splash of reserved pasta cooking water to loosen, if needed.
- Serve the pasta immediately and serve with grated Parmesan cheese and an extra sprinkle of salt and cracked black pepper.
Recipe adapted from Delicious Magazine