Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bag Barilla Cheese & Spinach Tortelini

  •  4 oz bacon or pancetta, (about 4 strips bacon)

  • 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, zested and juiced

  • 2 C loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped

  • ¾ C grated mozzarella cheese, divided

  • ¾ C grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions

  1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.

  2.     Cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels.  Reserve two tablespoons bacon grease and discard the rest.

  3.     Add garlic to bacon grease and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Whisk in flour and cook for about a minute.  Add milk, continuing to whisk until smooth.  Add basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and stir.  Bring to a simmer.  Add 2 teaspoons lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  Continue to stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

  4.     Reserve all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon and add the rest to the pasta.  Add spinach, 1/2c mozzarella, and 1/2c Parmesan, then add sauce.  Stir gently.

  5.     Transfer to an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish.  Top with remaining cheese and bacon.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until cheese is melted and pasta is bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.    Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.