Monday, 7 November 2011

Tortellini Casserole with Bacon & Spinach in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

This is a dish that I made on my day off last week.  I was channelling Martha Stewart and decided to use my free afternoon to whip up a homemade meal for my family.  I made this casserole as well as a homemade round loaf of bread which was deeelish (and will be posted soon).   Nothing gets my kids to try a new dish like the bribery of freshly baked carbohydrates!

Not only was this casserole a really tasty dish but it was really easy to whip up.  See I didn't just spend an afternoon cooking in the kitchen.  I also had my optometrist appointment in between bread baking/casserole making.  Multi-tasking at it's best!  This dish was so easy that I was able to do it while my eyes were dilated by my eye doc.  Is that not a horrible feeling?  I couldn't focus on anything up close!  But who needs to read the recipe, right? 

Luckly my stars aligned or someone was looking out for me because the meal turned out really well.  This dish was a hit with people over 5 feet tall in our house.  My kids are getting savvy now and don't really believe me anymore when I try to pass off spinach as 'seasoning'.  Or perhaps I'm just getting lazy and didn't want to chop up the spinach really fine.  No biggy.  More for the adults!   

Tortellini Casserole with Bacon & Spinach
in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

12 oz bag fresh cheese tortellini (find them in the deli section)
6 slices bacon, chopped (I use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon)
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
3/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh black pepper
1 1/2 tsp dry basil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium lemon
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach - stems removed and chopped (I used baby spinach)
1 Roma tomato -- seeded and chopped
3/4 cup Mozzarella or Marble cheese, grated (divided)
3/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (divided)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.  If tortellini is done before your sauce, drain the tortellini and rinse them with cold water to stop them from cooking.  Drain them again and add a wee bit of olive oil to stop them from sticking to themselves.  Set them aside until you're ready.

In a large, deep skillet, cook bacon on medium heat until crispy.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain off fat.  Reserve 2 tbsp of bacon fat in the skillet.  Add onions to the pan and cook until softened.  Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes or until fragrant.  Add flour to pan and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly add the milk and continue to stir.  Using a spoon, scrape off the browned bits from the bottom of the pan (it's not gross, it's flavour!).  Whisk mixture until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, basil and red pepper flakes.  Bring sauce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, use a microplane to finely zest the lemon.  Cut the lemon in half and juice it.  Add 2 tsp of zest and 1 tbsp of lemon juice to the sauce.  Continue to stir until sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat.

Add tortellini to the sauce in the skillet. 

Reserve 2 tbsp of the bacon and add the rest to the pasta.  Add spinach,  tomato, 1/2 cup of Mozzarella and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.  Pour pasta into a 9x9-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheeses.  Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with reserved bacon.  Serve hot.

Yield: 4-6 servings
Recipe Inspired By:

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Mary said...

This looks incredibly good! Spinach, tomato, bacon combines with a lemon sauce? You obviously read my cravings today. This sounds wonderful!

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Thanks Mary! It was a nice meal ... at least for the adults. I'm holding out hope that my kids will get on the 'food can touch' bandwagon SOON!

Jen at The Three Little Piglets said...

That's hilarious! I don't think my kids would buy spinach as "seasoning" either! I'd eat this any day though.

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Jen -- you know your kids are getting older when they start getting suspicious about ingredients in your dishes. ;) There once was a day when they'd accept that spinach was 'spice' and the orange colouring in their mashed potatoes was cheese (it was actually sweet potato). Perhaps I'm too devious? ;)

Trish @MomOnTimeout said...

This looks delicious! My youngest son isn't eating ANYTHING green right now. Sigh. I'll still make this though! Thank you so much for sharing at Taking A Timeout Thursday! Hope to see you again tomorrow :)
-Trish @ Mom On Timeout

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