Easy creamy chicken tortellini with spinach in a cream cheese tomato sauce is the ultimate lightened up comfort food.
This chicken tortellini dish with a creamy tomato sauce, ground lean chicken, spinach tortellini, and fresh spinach is everything you want in a comforting pasta dish but created in a lighter, fresher way.
When I think about what I want to eat on a cold night, pasta is always high up on the list. There is something about a warm bowl of pasta that just warms you up from the inside out. At the top of that pasta list for me is tortellini - the little stuffed pasta with ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. To sneak in extra veggies, I almost always choose spinach or veggie stuffed variety but anything will work.
Now let's talk about this chicken and tortellini dish. It starts with bell peppers, onions, garlic, and Italian seasoning. This combination makes the lean ground chicken taste like sausage without the extra fat and calories.
Then comes the creamy sauce. It starts with fire-roasted diced tomatoes to add a rich tomato flavor. To that, you add cream cheese. This is my secret for making a creamy sauce without needed lots of cream and cheese. It adds the perfect touch of creaminess and all that delicious cream cheese flavor while also thickening the sauce. If you need a dairy free option, you can leave this out or use a neutral coffee creamer to thicken things up.
To finish the dish, I love to add some fresh baby spinach. It will wilt right in the hot sauce without the need for extra cooking. Add some fresh basil or Parmesan cheese on top and serve.
Recipe Tips and Ideas
There are lots of ways to customize this recipe and make it your own based on preferences or simply what you have in the fridge.
- Protein: You can easily swap in a different protein to change up the flavor. Ground turkey is an obvious choice, but you could also try ground sausage or lean ground pork. Chicken breast works as well and the easiest option is throwing in some cooked rotisserie chicken when you add the spinach. Sliced chicken or turkey sausage is another great option. Cook it the same way you would the ground chicken, browning it on both sides. Lastly, consider you can use cooked shrimp or even salmon. Just make sure to cook it separately to make sure it doesn't overcook.
- Vegetables: As you probably guessed, this recipe works with all kinds of vegetables. Consider adding zucchini, summer squash, kale, asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower along with the bell peppers.
- Change up the spices: Italian seasoning is a natural choice for this dish, but you can switch things up by trying out different spices or making your own Italian seasoning. Use dried basil, dried oregano, red pepper flakes (if you want some heat), dried thyme, or dried parsley. You could also add fresh herbs to the dish right before sharing.
- Use different tomatoes: You may be surprised at how much switching out the diced tomatoes can change up the flavor. Grabbing a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies or diced tomatoes with roasted red peppers can change up the flavor.
- Switch out the pasta: If tortellini isn't your thing, you can make this with any type of pasta you like. Simply cook it al dente and add it right into the pasta as you would the tortellini. For Purple plan folks, this means you could make this a 2 point dish if you use whole wheat pasta.
Can I prep Creamy Chicken Tortellini in advance?
If you want to prep this dish in advance so it's easier for a quick dinner during the week, you have a few options:
- Make the sauce: I find this dish turns out best when the tortellini is cooked fresh and added to the sauce when hot. However, the sauce can be fully prepped in advance and then just reheated in a pan. Add the spinach as well so all you have to do is add the pasta. If the sauce thickens up, add some milk or chicken broth to thin it out.
- Prep the whole meal: You can prep this entire meal in advance and just reheat it for mealtime. Make sure to cook the pasta al dente, since you will be reheating it and you don't want it to end up mushy. Then reheat it in a pan (it will get rubbery in the microwave) and thin out the sauce with some milk, chicken broth, or extra diced tomatoes as needed.
How to cook packaged tortellini?
If you are buying fresh tortellini in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, simply add it to boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes until the tortellini floats to the surface. If you are cooking dry tortellini (from the dry pasta aisle), it usually takes about 10 minutes in boiling water. Since each brand is different, you will want to check the package directions.
Looking for more tortellini recipes?
Creamy Chicken Tortellini with Spinach
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- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion, sliced thin
- 1 bell pepper, sliced thin
- 16 oz. 99% lean ground chicken (or turkey)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 10 oz spinach tortellini (I used Trader Joe's)
- 14 oz canned fire roasted diced tomatoes (not drained)
- 4 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- Salt and pepper
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- Nutritional Information
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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