Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mmmm Mmmm Mon....errr...I mean Tuesday: Tortellini Spinach Bake with Creamy Lemon Sauce

Okay so I'm a dork. I was all thrown off this weekend because yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the kids were off school, so my brain told me it was Sunday. Hence the lack of a Mmmm Mmmm Monday post.

I'm hoping y'all will forgive me for the day delay when you try this deee-licious recipe. Seriously...it's THAT good. When I was cooking it my mouth was salivating like you wouldn't believe. I took a bite before I stuck it in the oven, which turned out to be pure torture while I waited for it to be done...it was just fantastic! (Which explains why the photo was taken after I had already started dishing it up...I couldn't wait to wolf it down!)

It's another one I found over on Pinterest and it is orignally from the Our Best Bites website.

So without further ado, here's what you need for Tortellini Spinach Bake with Creamy Lemon Sauce!

12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortellini (they're in the dry pasta aisle)

4 oz back or pancetta (about 4 strips of bacon)

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 Tbsp flour

2 Cups milk

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 and 1/2 tsp dry basil

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 medium lemon

2 Cups loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped

3/4 Cups grated mozzarella cheese

3/4 Cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350*. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to package directions.

Place bacon in a medium sized skillet over med-high heat on the stove. Cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set on paper towels to drain. Reserve 2 Tbsp 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 a whisk until smooth. Add salt, pepper, basil & red pepper and bring sauce to a simmer.

While sauce is heating, zest about 2 tsp of your lemon over the sauce. Then cut the lemon in half and remove the juice. Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice to the sauce. Continue to stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat.

Drain tortellini and put back in pot. Reserve 1 Tbsp of cooked bacon and add the rest (crumbled) to the pasta. Add spinach, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Add the sauce and stir gently to combine. Place pasta & sauce mixture into an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and the remaining crumbled pieces of bacon.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and back an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese on top is melted and the pasta is bubbly throughout. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before serving.

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