Friday, May 20, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Cream Sauce

I found this recipe on Our Best Bites and knew it was something my family would love-pasta, bacon, cream sauce! I did leave out the lemon in the recipe because no matter how many times I try it, I'm just not a fan of lemon in food! And the dried tortellini pasta that this recipe called for is amazing! It's dry so you don't have to keep in the fridge, it can sit in your pantry! I need to stock up on it!

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce
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 micro plane 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 mozzarella 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


Snell Family said...

Yum..anything with bacon, pasta and cheese has to be! Matt bought me the Our Best Bites cookbook for mother's day and I LOVE it. Almost all of the recipes are something I would actually make and I always love a cookbook with a picture for every recipe.

Melanie said...

Yeah, Matt and I had this for dinner last week. It was incredibly good. And Matt isn't the biggest pasta fan.

We really liked it with the lemon... then again, Matt and I really like lemon.