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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce

This pasta bake was absolutely delicious. I don't know if my family just eats way more than normal people (probably) or if this pasta is too small but between my husband, our three kids, and I we licked the dish clean ( much to my husbands dismay the next day at lunch time). Trust me it tastes way better than it looks. Oh, and do yourself a favor and add more bacon

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce

Recipe by Our Best Bites

12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortellini (from the dry pasta aisle)
4 oz bacon (about four strips--I'm telling you if you don't put in at least six you'll be sad)
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used a little more than this and one of my kids thought it was too spicy, I thought it was just right)
1 medium lemon
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

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

Place bacon in a medium sized skillet and cook on medium-high heat 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 one minute. Add flour to pan and stir with a whisk for about one minute. Slowly add milk and continue to stir and whisk till smooth. Add salt, pepper, basil, and red pepper flakes and bring sauce to a simmer.

While sauce is heating, use a microplane grate or a fine-holed cheese grater to zest lemon. Then cut lemon in half and 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 tbs of the cooked bacon and add the rest to the pasta mixture. Add spinach, 1/2 c mozzarella, and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Add sauce and gently stir to combine. Place pasta mixture in an 8x8 pan and top with remaining cheese and crumbled bacon.

Cover pan with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and cool about 10 minutes.

Notes: You should double this, for sure. You'll be glad the next day when you don't have to eat PB&J. Also, I never could find dry tortellini, so I used some I found in the freezer section, turned out great!

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