Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tortellini spinach Bake in Lemon Cream Sauce

I'm not sure how I stumbled across this one, but it's likely something I found on Pinterest.  It looks like a mess, but it's delicious.  I was actually talking with a man at the pizza place about it; he asked the checkout girl if people ordered a lemon cream sauce because it sounded strange, and I chimed in that I'd made one and that it was so light and fresh and summery.  A definite must try.

This is the same, but add in the freshness of spinach and you're in for a treat.  Then it also has bacon!  I billed this to my kids as special mac and cheese, and it is in a lot ways.  The preparation is basically the same, though the pasta and other add ins are a little different.

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce Source:  Our Best Bites

12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortelini
 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, zested and juiced
2 C loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¾ C grated mozzarella cheese, divided
¾ C grated Parmesan cheese, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
  2. Cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels.  Reserve two tablespoons bacon grease and discard the rest.
  3. Add garlic to bacon grease and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Whisk in flour and cook for about a minute.  Add milk, continuing to whisk until smooth.  Add basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and stir.  Bring to a simmer.  Add 2 teaspoons lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  Continue to stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  4. Reserve all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon and add the rest to the pasta.  Add spinach, 1/2c mozzarella, and 1/2c Parmesan, then add sauce.  Stir gently.
  5. Transfer to an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.  Top with remaining cheese and bacon.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until cheese is melted and pasta is bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.    Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*Omit bacon to make a vegetarian meal.

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