tortellini with lemon cream sauce

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Pinterest is one of my new favorite resources for recipes, parenting tips, DIY ideas, etc. etc.  Recently I attempted my first Pinterest “Cooking Project Ideas” pin for tortellini with spinach baked in a lemon cream sauce. Yum!!

I made some alterations to the recipe because I don’t cook bacon and I didn’t think vegetarian bacon would really do the job. Here’s the recipe, modified:

Ingredients
Bag of cheese tortellini
3 cloves garlic, 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 medium lemon
2 C loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¾ C shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
¾ C grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook tortellini according to package directions.
2. Add a little butter to a sauce pan and heat on medium. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute.  Add flour to the pan and stir for about 1 minute.  Slowly add milk and continue to stir until smooth.  Add salt, pepper, basil, and red pepper flakes and bring sauce to a simmer.
3.  While the sauce is heating, use a grater or zester to zest lemon.  Then cut lemon in half and juice.  Add 1-2 teaspoons zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to sauce.    Continue to stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
4. Drain tortellini and place back in stock pot.  Add spinach, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Add sauce and gently stir to combine.  Place pasta mixture in a baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan.
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 cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Because I hated to waste it, I think I added too much lemon zest, which when mixed with the cream, gave it a sweeter flavor. I suggest only adding 1 or 2 teaspoons of zest depending on your taste.  Definitely a yummy spring time pasta dish.

And in case you’re like me and also hate wasting an entire lemon for just a little bit of zest, here are some ideas for cleaning your bathroom with lemons – also a Pinterest pin.

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