Friday, May 13, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Bake in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

I am so glad Blogger is working again!

It's spring here.


When spring finally shows up I am hardly ever in the house.  At every possible moment I am outside.  

I love to soak in the sun and I love to see everything so green and beautiful.

I find it very fulfilling to be outside and work in my yard.  Yesterday I weeded the flower beds, planted a trumpet vine, mowed the yard, trimmed everything up, edged the garden, planted my herb garden, and watered my trees.  


One time when my husband came home and saw the yard mowed we had a very funny conversation.  It went something like this:
Hubby:  "Why did you mow the lawn?"
Me: "I wanted to."
Hubby: "Did anyone see you mowing the lawn?"
Me:  "Why?" 
 (by this point I was thinking maybe he thought I was out there in a bikini or something)
Hubby:  "Well when you mow the lawn the neighbors think that I am a domineering husband and make you do it."
Me--laughing hysterically--"Well you're not so don't worry and if they ask I will just tell them that you don't know how to run the lawn mower."  
(he does we just love to tease)

So now every time I mow the lawn, which is most of the summer, I remember our conversation and have a good laugh.  I LOVE to be outside so I really enjoy mowing the lawn.  I also do it because I would rather spend time doing other things together besides mowing the lawn on the weekends.

But speaking of my very sweet husband and spring this is what he made me for Mother's Day.
It was fantastic!

The hint of the lemon is so perfect for this time of year plus it is quick and easy, perfect for spring and summer days when there is so much to do and you want to spend as little time in the kitchen as necessary.

Tortellini Spinach Bake in a Creamy Lemon Sauce

12 oz  Tortellini (find them in the dry pasta aisle and the only brand my store carried was Barilla Parmesan Cheese but any kind should work)
6 strips bacon 
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 Tbs flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. cream
¾ t. kosher salt
⅛ t. black pepper
1 1/2 t. dry basil
¼ t. red pepper flakes, optional
1 medium lemon
2 c loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¾ c. grated mozzarella cheese, divided
¾ c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided

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.  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 cream continue to stir with whisk until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, basil, and red pepper flakes and bring sauce to a simmer.

3.  While sauce is heating, use a microplane grater or a fine-holed cheese grater to zest lemon--be careful not to get any of the white part in the sauce, it is quite bitter.  Then cut lemon in half and remove juice.  Add zest and lemon 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 20 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 serve.  Enjoy!

Source:  Best Bites

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