Sometimes you just want comfort food. When that craving strikes, nothing hits the spot like pasta pockets stuffed with cheese and smothered in a creamy sauce with little bits of bacon throughout. Is your mouth watering yet? Wait, there’s more. This isn’t your average Alfredo sauce. This cheesy sauce is brightened up with fresh lemon and it packs a slight hint of heat from the crushed red pepper. It’s a great combination of flavors. You’ll feel like you indulged but your waistline won’t show it! Now that’s comforting.
Creamy Lemon Tortellini BakeSource: adapted from Our Best Bites
12 oz package of dry Cheese & Spinach Tortellini (I used Barilla – find in the dry pasta aisle)
2 slices center cut bacon
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T flour
2 c skim milk
¾ t salt
1/8 t black pepper
1 ½ t dried basil
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 t lemon zest
2 c fresh spinach, loose, not packed
1 ½ oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2/3 c reduced fat 2% shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Lightly coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Cook the tortellini in a large pot according to package directions.
3. Meanwhile, place bacon in a sauté pan or large skillet and bring over medium-high heat. Cook for 7-9 minutes until crisp. Remove bacon from the pan and place on paper towels to dry. Leave one tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan (if you have less than that like I did you may want to add a little butter to make up the difference. I counted one tablespoon of bacon grease in the recipe builder. If you want to make this vegetarian then just skip the bacon altogether and use butter). Add the garlic to the bacon grease and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour to the pan and whisk into grease. Add the milk slowly and continue to whisk until combined. Add the salt, pepper, basil and red pepper flakes and stir. Bring sauce to a simmer.
4. Once sauce is simmering, add lemon juice and lemon zest to sauce. Stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.
5. Drain the tortellini and place back into the pot. Crumble the bacon and set aside. Add the spinach along with most of the Parmesan and the Mozzarella (reserve some of each to sprinkle on top). Add the sauce and stir everything together to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan, Mozzarella and bacon over the top.
6. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes.
Yields 6 servings. Weight Watchers Points Plus: 9 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Nutrition Information per serving from myfitnesspal.com: 377 calories, 45 g carbs, 15 g fat, 19 g protein, 5 g fiber