This mom loves to cook

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Hello! I'm Deirdre and I'm a stay at home mom to two boys. Cooking for a 6 and 4 year old- day in and day out can be the best job in the world, also the most frustrating. Trying to create not only kid friendly but husband and mom friendly meals is a challenge that I've readily accepted! My Foodie Mom blog is a record of the different recipes that I've tried in the kitchen, pictures of my ventures, and cool tricks I've picked up along the way. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tortellini Spinach Bake With Creamy Lemon Sauce

I made this a few nights ago, and straight away my husband told me he was iffy on the lemon sauce. There was no need to fret, because this lemon sauce was amazing! I think it's definitely going to be my go to for a chicken picatta or even a shrimp scampi from now on. It was easy, so flavorful and a perfect combination with the spinach in this dish. Leave the bacon out if making this vegetarian. 


  • 12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortelini (find them in the dry pasta aisle)
  • 4 oz bacon or pancetta, (leave this out if doing as vegetarian) 
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed in garlic press or finely minced
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 2 C milk
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry basil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp or more if you like spicy)
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 2 C loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • ¾ C grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¾ C grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.
Place bacon in a medium sized skillet on the stove-top at medium-high heat.  Cook 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 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.
While sauce is heating, use a microplane grater or a fine-holed cheese grater to zest lemon.  Then cut lemon in half and remove juice.  Add 2 teaspoons zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to sauce.  (Note:  I really love lemon so I added this to my tastes.  If you don’t want as strong of a lemon flavor, I suggest cutting it down to 1 teaspoon zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice) .  Continue to stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Drain tortellini and place back in stock pot.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooked bacon and add the rest to the pasta mixture.  Add spinach, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Add sauce and gently stir to combine.  Place pasta mixture in an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup mozarella and 1/4 cup parmesan and also crumbled bacon.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until warm and bubbly. 

This looks like it's a lot of work, but its really not. It's pretty much just making the sauce while you're waiting for the pasta to cook, so the total prep is under 20 minutes. I am for sure going to make this dish again. I give it an A. Enjoy!

Credits:Tortellini spinach bake

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