Friday, May 27, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce (Our Best Bites)

Recipe by Our Best Bites
12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortelini (find them in the dry pasta aisle)
4 oz bacon or pancetta, (about 4 strips bacon)*
3 cloves garlic, pressed in garlic press or finely minced
2 Tbs flour
2 C milk
¾ tsp kosher salt
⅛ tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp dry basil
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp or more if you like spicy)
1 medium lemon
2 C loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¾ C grated mozzarella cheese, divided
¾ C grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.
Place bacon in a medium sized skillet on the stove-top at medium-high heat.  Cook until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain.  Reserve two tablespoons bacon drippings in pan and discard the rest.  Add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute.  Add flour to pan and stir with a whisk for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk and continue to stir with whisk until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, basil, and red pepper flakes and bring sauce to a simmer.
While sauce is heating, use a microplane grater or a fine-holed cheese grater to zest lemon.  Then cut lemon in half and remove juice.  Add 2 teaspoons zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to sauce.  Continue to stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Drain tortellini and place back in stock pot.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooked bacon and add the rest to the pasta mixture.  Add spinach, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Add sauce and gently stir to combine.  Place pasta mixture in an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup mozarella and 1/4 cup parmesan and also crumbled bacon.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese on top is melted and pasta is bubbly throughout.  Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
* For a vegetarian meal, omit bacon.
Serves 4-6

Tortellini Bake 2


Aimee said...

This is the BEST recipe I have ever made!! YUM! I increased the recipe by half so we would have leftovers. I would def say to use 2% or higher fat content milk to make the sauce really good

Jenn Mair said...

I agree with Aimee! BEST pasta recipe I have had! It is so good. Definitely use the red pepper it adds a nice "kick" to the flavor. But I would not use more than it requires, especially if you have kids.

Jer said he had to restrain himself from eating it all. At dinner I said "Eli, you have got to try this goodness." Eli, "Mom, I love goodness." He took a bite, "Mom, this is good!" :) Even the kids love it!

lstephan said...

This was soooo good. Super easy to make too. I made one on a weeknight for a couple that just had a baby, and they loved it. And then made one for us on Sunday. I wish I had put more spinach in--just because I love spinach, but the flavors were perfect.