after hours tortellini
Main Dish

After Hours Tortellini: The Recipe

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Originally posted on Recipe Realism over 10 years ago, After Hours Tortellini is a flavorful pasta recipe that holds up. Our original post did not include the recipe. Rather, we linked directly to the original source. Unfortunately, that original website became compromised and accessing the recipe was unreliable.

After our hiatus, we returned to comments and messages looking for this recipe. And we see where in the update on our original post we intended to post the full recipe. So this had to be the first recipe post now that we’re back!

This recipe has continued to be in regular rotation for over 10 years! During that time the recipe has evolved but with very few changes. Since the original site and recipe are no longer available, our version of the recipe is below.

This light, flavorful, creamy dish has it all. Cheese filled pasta, veggies, meat and the slightest bit of spicy heat. And it’s very versatile across food preferences & diets. You can omit the meat and make it vegetarian. Add sliced onions instead of onion powder and diced tomatoes. If you like spicy, you can dial that up, too.

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Getting Started

To begin, the red peppers can be washed and sliced first. The chef’s knife from your knife block or this Japanese knife are great options to get the thin strips of red pepper the recipe calls for. For best results, start by slicing off the four sides around the center stem. This makes for quick clean up and the least amount of seed mess. The stems and center full of seeds will remain. These can be tossed into the trash (or compost) bin. Then, slice each of the pepper sections with the skin side up into thin strips. 

Next, it is time to slice the meat.

Ingredient Recommendations


Here you can use the smoked sausage as the recipe calls for, change it up or omit it altogether. You can also use Polska kielbasa or even a turkey or chicken based version of smoked sausage or Polska kielbasa. Look for these options in the prepared meats section of the grocery store or supermarket. Typically in the same section as hot dogs and bacon. Often only half the package of meat will be needed. Set the remainder aside for when you inevitably make this dish again or use it to make any number of other dishes. Thinly slice your meat of choice into coins. A sharp knife and complete slice through the sausage casing or skin are key to end up with individual coins.


Once the peppers and sausage are prepped, start the pasta water for the tortellini if you haven’t already. Frozen, store brand tortellini is recommended. Usually the recipe only uses half a bag. If name brand or fresh tortellini are good alternatives. Throw in a bit of kosher salt in the water. Let the water come to a boil while continuing with the recipe. When the water is ready, boil the tortellini until it starts to float or according to the package instructions.


For the garlic, you can’t go wrong with freshly minced garlic cloves. However, prepared minced garlic works just as well. For quick reference, a ½ teaspoon of minced garlic is equivalent to one clove of garlic. 

Wine & Cream

Next, you’ll need a liquid measuring cup to measure the wine and then the cream. For the wine, any bottle of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc will do the trick. Either wine also pairs nicely with this meal. For the cream, heavy cream or heavy whipping cream will do.


Now it’s time to consider the spiciness level when measuring the sriracha. Even if spiciness is not desired, it is not recommended to skip the sriracha altogether. Add at least a small drop or two. The sriracha adds a nice flavor and color.


Once the sauce is ready, it’s time to add the spinach. Pre-washed, bagged spinach leaves are recommended. A fresh bunch of washed spinach is certainly a great option, too.

Ingredient Alternatives

So far this recipe outlines our version. However, the original recipe had a couple other options to consider.


Rather than onion powder, consider using a red onion. After thinly slicing the red peppers, thinly slice the red onion. Add the onion to the pan along with the peppers at the start of the recipe.


Add diced tomatoes at the same time as the spinach. Slice a fresh Roma tomato or simply add some canned diced tomatoes. Play around with the type, quantity and measurements to your liking.

These vegetable options are a great way to elevate this dish. Especially if omitting the meat for a vegetarian spin.

Finishing Touches

If the timing works out, the cooked tortellini can be transferred to the sauce with a slotted spoon. Add a splash of the pasta water to help the sauce thicken and stick to the tortellini. Serve in a warmed pasta dish.


After Hours Tortellini makes a great meal, any night of the week. Given the amount of mise en place, preparing this dish on a weekend or a slower week night can be preferred. While it’s delicious year round, this is an especially great summer dish for many reasons. Peppers and spinach are in season. The dish is lighter than more traditional pasta dishes. And last but certainly not least, the wine. Pour a glass of the leftover wine to enjoy with your meal. A chilled Pinot Grigio or Savignon Blanc pairs well with this dish and with warm summer evenings, too.


This recipe makes two well-sized portions. Occasionally, a small serving will be left over. Leftovers should be used within a day or two and can be reheated in the microwave. While not quite the same as when freshly made, After Hours Tortellini leftovers make a good lunch or quick snack.

After-Hours Tortellini

Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Dinner, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 2


  • 1 tsp grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 c thinly sliced red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder or 1 c thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 lb thinly sliced smoked sausage
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 big fist full baby spinach
  • 1 c tortellini, cooked
  • kosher salt & pepper, to taste


  • Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle in the oil, and when hot, add in the red pepper and onion powder. Stir to coat with oil and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Add in the sausage mixing to combine, and cook for another 7 minutes.
  • Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the wine, and cook stirring occasionally until the alcohol is evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium, stir in the cream and sriracha and cook until the sauce starts to thicken a little bit, about 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt & pepper.
  • Stir in the spinach and cook for 2 minutes allowing the spinach to lightly wilt. Add in the cooked tortellini and cook for a minute or two to warm them through.

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