Getting back into the swing of things after a week of vacation is tough. The kids struggle to get out of bed in the morning, whine about doing homework, and we all rebel against the routine. So when I planned my weekly menu, knowing that my husband would be away most of the week, I took it easy on myself. No fancy new recipes and no dinners that would take me longer than 10 minutes of active cooking to put on the table.
Last night I planned to serve cheese ravioli. Again, nothing fancy, no homemade pasta dough would be rolled out in the kitchen this week. I bought a family size package of Buitoni three cheese tortellini at the supermarket, and planned to top it off with a little butter and parmesan to kick up the cheesiness even more.
And that’s what I served the kids, who devoured the little pillows of cheese comfort with glee.
But for myself, at the last minute, I decide to add a little green and a little more subtlety to my dinner.
I chopped off the tips of ten asparagus spears, loped off a very generous chunk of salted butter, added a few spoonfuls of grated parmesan, and made myself a little browned butter asparagus sauce. I essentially poached the asparagus tips in brown butter.
Brown butter (Beurre Noisette in French) is one of the million reasons why butter is the greatest ingredient in the kitchen. It’s created by melting a regular pat of butter in a pan until the milk solids in the butter begin to caramelize, giving them a delicious nutty flavor. You’ll see the milk solids when your butter melts and gets that white froth on top. If you remove them, you get clarified butter. But if you keep them in, you can make browned butter. Just cook it for an extra minute or two after the butter melts and froths, watching it to take it off the heat when it turns brown, and before it burns and turns black. The French love browned butter with fish and the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish use it to fry chicken and cook vegetables.
The nuttiness of the browned butter made the springtime freshness of the asparagus shine, and it was the perfect complement to the soft tortellini. Five minutes after inspiration struck, I was sitting with the kids, moaning loudly with every delicious bite, mortifying my 8-year old, and inspiring the younger two to taste my creation.
Cheese Tortellini with Brown Butter Asparagus
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Active Cook Time: 10 minutes
one package of store-bought cheese tortellini or ravioli
10 asparagus spear tips
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
4 tablespoons of salted butter
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a medium sized skillet, melt your butter until the milk solids (frothy white stuff) just begins to turn light brown.
- Add the asparagus tips and lower the heat. Stir to coat well and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the butter from burning.
- Add the parmesan and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring to combine.
- The tortellini should be ready at the same time as your sauce. Drain the tortellini and immediately pour the sauce on top. Enjoy right away! Moaning is optional.