Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Bake With Creamy Lemon Sauce

Here's another great casserole dish that's great for company. For just me and sweet pea, I half all of the ingredients. You can also make this dish ahead of time and stick it in the fridge until you're ready to bake it. Pairs nicely with a salad and dinner rolls!

Tortellini Spinach Bake With Creamy Lemon Sauce

2 - 12 oz bags of cheese & spinach tortellini
8 strips bacon, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the tortellini in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon on the stove-top at medium-high heat until crisp. (I like to freeze my bacon the night before and then dice it up before I fry's so much easier!)
Remove from the pan and set on paper towels to drain. Reserve 4 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest.

Add garlic to the pan and cook about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir with a whisk for about 1 minute. Slowly add in the milk, a little at a time, and continue to stir with a whisk until smooth. Add in the salt, pepper, basil, and red pepper flakes, bringing the sauce to a simmer.

Add in the lemon juice and continue to stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Drain the tortellini and place back in the large pot.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cooked bacon and add the rest to the pasta mixture. Add in the spinach, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of the parmesan cheese. Add in the sauce and gently stir to combine.

Place the pasta mixture in an 9 x 13 inch baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan. Top with the remaining bacon.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cheese on top is melted and the pasta is bubbly throughout.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving. Delicious!

Makes about 12 servings

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