Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce

I just love tortellini.  Pasta + Cheese, can you go wrong?  I pretty much love every recipe that contains those little pieces of heaven.  That said, this one is very good.  It has similar ingredients to other recipes I have tried, with the exception of the lemon.  I just loved the way the lemon worked in this dish.  It brightened up the flavors and gave it a slight delicious tang.  My oldest (and pickiest) child could taste the lemon and wasn't convinced it belonged, but I think he was just mad because I didn't make Tortellini and Ham, a family favorite.  When he saw the the tortellini, I think he thought that was what I was making;)  I personally, think I liked this even better.  I just tasted a little less heavy.  

Here is what you will need!
 Food photography is so much more fun when the sun is shining.  No sun today though!  I am wishing it would rain right now, my freshly planted garden could use some more!  If it is going to be gray, I would prefer for it to just rain!  

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce

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


  1. Good heavens that looks good! I have made several of your recipes and I have printed a couple that are awaiting their debut. Hope you are well...haven't been to the Y in ages. :( Would love to walk the golf course with you sometime. Renae

  2. I love the garlic and lemon flavors in here...yum!

  3. Renae- A walk sounds lovely! I miss seeing you at cycling!

  4. Oh my..i dont mind..i wanna be an addict..this looks so good and your photo is great also.

  5. But where's all the butter? ;p



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