Friday, September 18, 2015

Cheesy Tortellini Bake

My son was getting a bedtime snack, and he held up a small box of frosted mini-wheats and asked if he could have that with milk.  
I said, "Well, we're out of milk.  You can have them dry if you're curious about what it would be like to eat a tumble weed sprinkled with a little sugar." 
For real, though.  Thank you, Kellogg's for making frosted mini tumble-wheats.  While I'm on the subject, have you ever seen the non mini-wheats?  They are pretty much the size of my head.   One giant, slightly frosted tumble weed.  

Now on to this recipe.  It is delicious, and it's really easy to throw together.  I have been working about 10 hour days all week long, so I've been beyond tired once dinner comes rolling around.  As tempting as it was to just go get some hamburgers, tacos, or pizza for everyone, I've been trying to avoid fast food since I'm counting calories and all that jazz.  Sooo... I made a cheesy pasts dish #winning.  In my defense, I scraped the cheese of my portion.  :)   My family loved this tortellini.  The fennel seed gives it the flavor of Italian sausage without the sausage.  The mushrooms give it a little different flavor.  Quick. Cheesy. Delicious!

Cheesy Tortellini Casserole

Cheesy Tortellini Bake
photo and recipe source:


  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) prepared frozen cheese tortellini
  • Salt
  • 12 oz  mushrooms, roughly chopped or sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 T butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large bunch swiss chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 2 cups) OR 2 cups fresh chopped spinach OR 1/2 cup frozen spinach (I omitted this- my family isn't too find of leafy greens)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 to 6 ounces Mozzarella cheese slices, enough to cover the surface of the casserole

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Start a pot of boiling water.  Once it's boiling, add the tortellini and cook according to package directions.  When it's done, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, add the chopped mushrooms into a large pan.  You'll be adding the remaining sauce ingredients, so make sure it's big enough to fit all of that.  Cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat for about five minutes.  They will start to release liquid and shrink.  Once that starts to happen, add the butter.  Stir.  

Add the garlic, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes (don't leave these out!  They terrified me when I was young, but they add just a pinch of heat to pasta sauce!)  Cook this for five minutes, stirring constantly.  

Add the tomatoes and basil.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for five minutes.  
Add the Swiss chard or spinach (if using) and cook for five minutes or until it starts to wilt.  

Add the Parmesan cheese and salt to taste.

Stir in the cooked tortellini.  Place in a baking dish and top with slices of mozzarella cheese.  

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove the foil and cook for five more minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley or oregano before serving.

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