Tortellini with Basil Cream Sauce

You know, sometimes I think I am just plain contrary when it comes to ingredients. This past summer, when my basil looked like this…

…and was pretty much threatening to take over the world, I was racking my brain for basil recipes. After all, there is only so much pesto that one girl can take. Now that we are in the cold hard dead of winter and my basil crop is just a sweet-smelling memory, I keep running across recipes that call for, yes, you guessed it. And with most of them I just sigh and put them in my “make this next summer” folder, but with this one, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to make it, and I had to make it NOW. And of course, basil can be had in the cold hard dead of winter. For a price. But sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, and so there I was in the checkout line with my million dollar per pound bunch of basil, and visions of basil cream sauce dancing in my head.

Now next summer when I am once again moaning over all the basil in my garden and how in the world will I ever use it all up, could someone please remind me about this recipe?

Thank you.


Tortellini with Basil Cream Sauce
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1¼ cups cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 9-ounce packages cheese tortellini, cooked and drained
  • Fresh ground pepper
  1. Saute shallots and garlic in butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add flour and stir for one more minute. Stir in ¼ cup butter and cook for one more minute. Stir in wine and cook one minute more. Slowly add cream, stirring until smooth.
  3. Add cheese and and cook over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in basil, mix well. Add cooked tortellini and stir to coat.
  5. Divide among plates and grind fresh pepper over top.


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  1. Kate Morgan Jackson says

    Right back at you Zoe — I LOVE going to your blog not only for the recipes but also your gorgeous photography. Yum on both!!

  2. Cheryl says

    Oh wow, this looks so comforting and delightful. I am going to make this for our Saturday date night for my husband and I. I have a question though. Is basil hard to grow? I mean can you just plant the seed and water every once in a while? I have the brownest thumb in the south. I did have great luck with my mint last year. It was everywhere! Have you tried to dry your basil for later use? Just a thought. Thanks for the great recipe.

  3. Kate Morgan Jackson says

    Hi Cheryl! I have actually never grown it from seeds (although my mom does — she starts them inside in little pots in about April and then transplants them outside when they are sprouted). I buy a flat of already sprouted baby basil plants every year from…get this…Home Depot! They sell them in biodegradable little pots, which means you can plant them without ever taking them out of their little pot. How easy is that?? I have a round wooden barrel right outside my back door that I fill up with potting soil and I pop the basil plants in there in late May, and they grow like crazy until the first frost in the fall. I try to remember to water them about once a week, but honestly unless there is a real dry spell, the rain and the sprinkler do a fine job watering them. Hope this helps!

  4. Cindy says

    Hi, I'm a frequent reader but this is the first time I've posted. I love your blog!

    Last summer we had a bumper crop of basil which I did grow from seeds. I ended up having so much that I wanted a way to preserve it. I chopped the basil roughly, then put it in ice cube trays with just a bit of water, and froze it.

    Now when I have a recipe calling for basil, I take out a cube or two and toss it in the pot. It tastes very much like the fresh basil!


  5. Cam de la Ron says

    Hi Kate, I love the look of this recipe. It might be that I am a sucker for stuffed pastas, but the photo does look so delicious…
    Oh, I am a ginger and a first born too! Cam

  6. Kate Morgan Jackson says

    What a great idea about the ice cubes — thanks!! And thanks to EVERYONE for your nice words about the photographs. :)

  7. Kate Morgan Jackson says

    Wow – thanks for the catch! No, although having an extra glass around is not a bad idea. Thanks for spotting this – it's fixed. :)

  8. julia says

    So it is a cold 'spring' day here in CT, actually there has been pretty much nothing but cold rainyness for months now it seems. My big pots of little basil sprouts keep reminding me of last summer and the sea of basil all my food was swimming in. I, like you finally have to have some basil! Yesterday I got my pricy little bunch of basil and tonight I am making this for dinner, I can't wait! Thank you!

  9. Viagra versus Cialis says

    It looks so yummy!! I want to prepare it tomorrow for my husband but the problem is that I' really bad cooking but I'll try to do it I know he'll be so grateful knowing that at the end I was able to make something delicious.

  10. Robyn says

    This looks and sounds soooo yum. I want to make sure I get the recipe right, so can you tell me what you mean by this part of the recipe….”2. Add flour and stir for one more minute. [Stir in one] and cook for one more minute. Stir in wine and cook one minute more. Slowly add cream, stirring until smooth. ” I bracketed the part I don’t understand.
    Thanks so much.

    • Kate says

      Oh my goodness, you are so good to spot this. It was a misprint in the recipe – that was the 1/4 cup of butter you are supposed to stir in. It’s all fixed now – thanks for pointing this out to me! :)

  11. Iris says

    I saw the photos for this recipe and they looked so delicious, I had to try it. It turned out so yummy! Thank you so much for this recipe! I’m definitely going to make it again sometime :)

  12. Abigail says

    Decided to try this recipe because it just sounded so good. It came out awesome and the directions were so easy to follow. We are adding this as a regular meal in our family. Oh also if you have picky children like I do just add the basil without chopping it up and remove them after so you get the flavor but no ” icky green things”.

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