Thursday, March 29, 2012

Creamy Tortellini Spinach Bacon Bake

Have you ever had that experience where someone gives you a recipe and proceeds to tell you: "You have to try this!" or "This is the best thing ever!"
That happens to me all too often.
Usually I respond by smiling and saying: "I am sure it is...of course I will make it!"
All the while I am thinking: "Yeah right, like this is the best thing ever. I am not going to make this stupid dish of yours..."

Was that a little too harsh?
Sorry, but it's the truth.
1 out of 10 times I will make something that you recommend.
I often think that "mine" will be better than "yours"...
And let's be honest, it often is.
Just kidding.

But today is different.
Because today I must confess that I folded.
Yep, I made that "This is the best thing ever!" dish.
My curiosity got the best of me.
And you know what?
I am here to tell you that this dish got my stamp of approval.
[insert applause here]
Congrats Aleisha, you did it.

What is that?
All of the above?

It's like a match made in pasta heaven.

Fry up some bacon.

Make a cream sauce.

Possibly add in some lemon.

Throw in a bit of spinach.

And always, ALWAYS have a snack on the side!
I decided to snack on vegan coconut chocolate pudding...recipe to come soon!

Toss it all together in a pan.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Creamy Tortellini Spinach Bacon Bake
  • 12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortelini (usually in the dry pasta aisle)
  • 5-6 strips bacon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 small lemon
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.
  2. Place bacon in a skillet on the stove-top at medium-high heat.  Cook until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan and set on paper towels to drain.  Crumble when cooled. 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.
  3. While sauce is heating, zest your lemon (a fine-holed cheese grater works well).  Then cut lemon in half and remove juice.  Add 1 teaspoon zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice to sauce.  Continue to stir until thickened (about 2-3 minutes).  Remove from heat.
  4. Drain tortellini and place back in stock pot.  Reserve a small handful of the cooked/crumbled and set aside.  Add rest of bacon to the pasta mixture.  Add spinach, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Add in sauce and gently stir to combine.  Place pasta mixture in an 8×8 (or 9×9) sprayed baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and remaining crumbled bacon.
  5. 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.

Serves 4-6

Kudos to Our Best Bites. Love you guys.

Yes, I am a nerd who doesn't have enough counter space, so I prepare dishes on top of my dryer. Judge me all you want.

Nom noms.


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