Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tortellini Casserole

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Its contest time again.  This time it is for a trip to Italy.  I needed to create an original Italian themed recipe using Barilla tortellini.  What to do, what to do? 


So many ideas came to mind including this tortellini casserole.  In my mind I knew that the ingredients that I had chosen would work well together and the flavors would marry together beautifully in a one dish meal.   How could it not be delicious with ingredients like savory Italian sausage, onions, garlic, cauliflower, spinach, cheesy bites of tortellini and creamy cannelloni beans all brought together with a light cream sauce and a fresh herbed bread crumb topping.
 

At least that’s what I imagined…

The end result was a light casserole filled with satisfying flavorful bites that were enhanced with the creaminess that the tortellini’s and cannelloni beans brought to the dish.  The problem was that the tortellini got lost in the rest of the ingredients and didn’t stand out as I had wanted them to.  Also it was a casserole, so it didn’t photograph well.  This was a good idea but not the one I needed.

The next time I make this dish I would double the pasta to two 8 ounce packs of tortellini. (I made the adjustment in the recipe).  Also if you prefer a thicker bodied casserole add a cup of your favorite white cheese (mozzarella, provolone, fontina) to the mix before baking.

There is no question that it was a delicious meal served along with a crisp salad and a fresh baguette.  But, it just didn’t cut it as my entry into the contest.

The next time you are in the mood for a casserole give this recipe a try.
 
Truly, how many tortellini dishes can I make for a family of three before I have to call it quits…

The recipe that I settled on for the contest was ANTIPASTO TORTELLINI SALAD, check it out.

TORTELLINI CASSEROLE
2          8 oz. packs      Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini
1          pound              bulk Italian sausage
1          small head       cauliflower, chopped
1          10 oz. pack     frozen leaf spinach, defrosted and liquid squeezed out
1          14 oz. can       cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1          large                onion, chopped small
2          cloves              garlic, minced
1          stalk                 celery, chopped small
1          15 oz. can       cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1          14 oz. can       chicken broth
¾         cup                  cream
TOPPING
2          cups                fresh bread crumbs
¼         cup                  grated parmesan cheese
¼         cup                  fresh parsley, roughly chopped
¼         tsp.                  black pepper
1          Tbsp.               olive oil

I am fortunate to have a food processor and I took advantage of it for this dish.  Making my bread crumbs as well as chopping the cauliflower, onions, celery and garlic in it.  Pulse, pulse, pulse…
Cook tortellini for 9 - 10 minutes in salted water.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

Drain and rinse cannellini beans.  Set aside.

Heat a heavy bottomed pot over med-high heat.  Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and brown Italian sausage. 

Add minced garlic, celery and onions; cook until soft. 

Add chopped cauliflower and cook for 2 minutes. 

Add chicken broth; lower heat and cover; let cook for 10 minutes.

Add cream, spinach, beans and tortellini.

Place in a casserole dish and top with fresh bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the bread crumbs are nice and toasty.

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