Tortellini Primavera with Smoked Salmon & Dill

By Charleen - April 20, 2020

I've always loved the shape of tortellini! This one-pot dish features all of the food groups, lovingly cradled in a light butter-cream sauce. A family favorite with its bright colors, Tortellini with Spring Salmon as my kids called it can be easily made all year round with just a few ingredients.

Cheese tortellini with Alaskan smoked salmon, sugar snap peas and carrots

Cheese or spinach tortellini, smoked salmon and colorful vegetables in the easiest butter-cream-dill sauce ever! This is a delicious one-pot meal with vegetables, which I developed twenty-two years ago when I finished my training and took my first job. Inspired by two recipes in Anne Willan's Look and Cook Perfect Pasta cookbook (DK, 1992), but lacking the time to make my own tortellini, I developed streamlined procedures to get food on the table as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Shortcut to the Love2Chow recipe.
This dish  has been a long time favorite of my son and daughter since they were toddlers, and is the first dish that my daughter learned how to make. There's nothing nicer than coming home from a long day of work to enjoy a supper made by your teenage kids -- for my son, it was peanut butter noodles and for my daughter, this dish.

Either fresh or frozen store-bought tortellini works well, in a range of package sizes. We prefer the cooked northwest style hot smoked salmon with peppercorns, but it is also delicious with Scandinavian cured lox. 

Even if you don't have smoked salmon, you can make a delicious vegetarian version with smoked mozzarella or seasoned dry tofu. As it's as good as a gently reheated leftover as it was fresh!

Reheated vegetarian version using a square of baked, seasoned "dry" tofu, zucchini and carrots.

Carrots and hardier vegetables are cooked and drained along with the pasta, while tender vegetables are sautéed in the butter before adding the cream. There is no need to measure the vegetables, just use what you have. Sugar snap peas, broccoli, baby spinach or frozen peas are terrific with the zucchini and carrots, but we have found that asparagus and bell peppers end up overpowering the dill.
Colander with drained, cooked tortellini and carrots and sauce ingredients measured and chopped while pasta cooked.

The butter-cream sauce is genius -- there is no need to make the sauce in advance as it just forms itself around the cooked pasta and toppings. Once you taste this light, but flavorful sauce, you will never need worry about standing at the stove whisking fussy Béchamel bases again! Season the sauce with salt, fresh ground pepper and plenty of dill. Curls of shaved Parmesan or Romano cheese elevate this to yet another level.
Tortellini in butter-cream sauce with spring salmon, carrots, spinach and zucchini

Love2Chow Tortellini with Spring Salmon                            April 2005, rev. April 20, 2020
14-20 oz fresh, or fresh frozen, tortellini (e.g. tri-color cheese tortellini or spinach tortellini)
1-2 carrots, cubed
1/2 stick butter
4 oz. smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
1 zucchini cubed and/or sugar snap peas, strings removed, frozen peas, or fresh spinach, sliced thinly
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Fresh or dried dill
Salt and pepper
Fresh grated or shaved Romano or Parmesan cheese

1. Bring water to boil in a Dutch oven or stock pot.
2. Add frozen tortellini, stir to break apart. Add carrots.
3. Boil per instructions of tortellini (6-7 min).
4. Drain and set aside.
5. Melt butter in the same pot. Sauté salmon 1-2 min to cook. Toss in tortellini/carrots to coat, then add the other vegetables.
6. Add cream and shake in plenty of dill to taste. Cook 5-6 min on medium heat until sauce starts to thicken.
7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with grated or shaved cheese. Makes 6 servings.

🐾 Smoked turkey is not as intense in flavor, and requires 6-8 oz (w), or add smoked mozzarella.  
🐾 For crisper vegetables, cut carrots into smaller chunks and sauté in butter instead of cooking vegetables with the pasta.
🍃 Broccoli or other vegetables can be steamed as a side dish over the boiling pasta.
🐾 For an even faster supper, try adding 3-4 Tbs of pesto to a 16 oz pack of frozen tortellini (~ 4 cups) 
Cheese tortellini with homemade pesto.

DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?  What are your favorite one-pot pasta dishes?

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