Lemon is such a vibrant flavor. It's light, adds no calories or fat to a dish, but delivers a ton of flavor and tang to a meal. Some people find lemon to be too tart (like these babies- have you ever seen this youtube video of babies having lemon for the first time? If not you can thank me later!) but to me it's really one of the best ingredients. Some of my favorite lemon based meals are chicken with lemon basil pasta, lemon chicken, lemon cream pasta, lemon pepper shrimp scampi, shrimp in a Chinese lemon sauce, and lastly this delicious recipe for lemon pecan cookies. Can you tell I cook with lemon a lot? I had to really try to narrow it down to share just a few of my favorite lemon meals- there were tons more!
I will certainly be adding this baked tortellini recipe to the ranks of my favorite lemon-based meals. For starters I love stuffed pastas. I've discussed that love in depth many times so we'll move on. Beyond that it's a Weight Watchers friendly meal so you can have a creamy, cheesy, pasta-y dinner without guilt. Um, that deserves a YAY for sure. Plus, if you see the bacon sprinkled on top, you know you're in for a treat. Try this. It's so delicious.
Source: Emily 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
Directions: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.
**9 WW points plus for 1/6 of the recipe