This recipe has room for delicious flexibility. Substitute diced tomatoes with zesty green chiles for diced Italian tomatoes.
Substitute another sausage, such as sun-dried tomato and basil, bratwurst, spinach and feta, and orange Sicilian sausages. Any of those varieties work in this recipe, giving just a subtly different tilt to the overall flavor.
Make It Gluten-Free: gluten-free cheese tortellini is available. Track it down, and your gluten-intolerant friends will thank you forever.
Make It Vegetarian: substitute a plant-based sausage for the Italian sausage.
Grease the interior of the slow cooker crock with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
If you have time, brown the sausage slices in a skillet over medium. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to the prepared crock. Discard the drippings. Note: If you don’t have time to brown the sausage, you can put the sausage slices straight into the crock.
Add the tortellini, broth, tomatoes and their juice, and the cubed cream cheese to the crock. Stir well.
Cover. Cook on Low 3 to 4 hours or until the pasta is cooked tender but not mushy.
Stir in the chopped spinach just before serving, reserving several tablespoons as topping.
Top each individual serving with a scattering of chopped fresh spinach to add flavor and bright green beauty.
Excerpted from Stock the Crock by Phyllis Good. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House.