Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Meyer Lemon Sauce

Last week, Stephanie (another student in the lab who is planning to graduate this spring) and I attended an electronic dissertation formatting workshop. It was 3 hours long and we both wanted to strangle someone by the time it was over. Actually, we had that impulse before we even got to the workshop because we had an assignment to complete prior to the workshop which consisted of going through a 35 page mock dissertation and editing the formatting errors! Thankfully I did learn something from all of that, but think it could’ve been acquired less painfully. At the same time, neither of us now have very high hopes of finishing the write up of our dissertations in time to start the formatting review process the first of April. Especially since we both have lab work we’re still trying to finish up. It’s a good thing one can just finish whenever you’re done in grad school instead of only two days a year.

Anywho, pardon my rant. I will make it up to you with yet another recipe involving Meyer lemons. It’s cheese tortellini, mixed up with bacon and spinach then covered in a Meyer lemon cream sauce. Feast your eyes upon that plate of glory. (And watch as my frustration magically dissipates a little.)

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Meyer Lemon Sauce

One year ago: Lighter Pizza Dip

TORTELLINI SPINACH BAKE IN CREAMY MEYER LEMON SAUCE

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

12 oz. cheese tortelini (I used frozen)

4 oz. (4 strips) bacon

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

3/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1-1/2 tsp dry basil

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced

2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped

3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, 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 30 seconds.  Add flour to pan and stir with a whisk until browned, 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. Add Meyer lemon zest and juice to sauce.  Continue to stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  4. 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.
  5. Cover pan with foil and bake for 15 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.

Source: Adapted slightly from Our Best Bites.

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