Want an easy-peasy weeknight meal your whole family will enjoy? I bet you’re saying yes, yes, yes! Well, read on, because my whole family loves this pasta and I love it because it’s tasty of course, but so quick (under 45 minutes) and easy to make. This is definitely a family and kid friendly meal. It’s cheesy, hence the title, cheesy baked tortellini. This pasta is rated a 10+ in my house and has quickly become a family favorite.
Life is getting busy around our house, and during this busy time I have to prepare my weekly dinner menu in advance. Zoe now has lacrosse, dance and cotillion 4 nights during the week so goodbye (for now) to sit-down family dinners, and hello make ahead and easy meals.
On Sundays, I put together a list of potential weeknight dinners and I also try to cook a two-nighter meal as well. When life is busy, I don’t want to compromise on eating nutritionally, nor do I want us eating takeout every night. I want to offer my kids their veggies and a fairly balanced and nutritious meal. To accomplish this, I try and find recipes that I can either make ahead, that will provide dinner for 2 nights or ones that can be put together in a flash. This tortellini pasta matches all three of that criteria. You can throw it together in less than 45 minutes. You can also make it earlier in the day, cover it with foil, refrigerate it and then re-heat later that evening. Oh yeah!!! I’ll be honest with you all and let you know that we end up using a jared sauce the majority of the time. I don’t always make the homemade marinara sauce, and that’s ok! My favorite jarred sauce to use for this pasta is Rao’s homemade Marinara.
cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce:
Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Pasta
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 cups marinara sauce – store bought or homemade – I made a homemade version from Giada the day before- recipe to follow below. I have also made this recipe a number of times with different store bought sauces and my basic tomato sauce.
- 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 pound cheese tortellini
- shredded mozzarella or smoked mozzarella cheese, – The recipe called for 2 ounces, but really, who measures out their cheese? Just top your dish with the amount of cheese you want.
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese – I also did not measure this. I just topped each casserole with some parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the tortellini. Lightly oil an 8x8x2-inch baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.Below is what mascarpone cheese looks like. It resembles a soft cream cheese.In a large bowl, whisk together the marinara sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme.Stir all the ingredients together. Its best to mix everything with a spatula because you’re going to have to press the mascarpone cheese against the sides of the bowl to get it to soften up. Once you mix all the ingredients together, it goes from this beautiful red color above, to this not so pleasant orange color. I’m not even going to go there and tell you what it reminds me of.Cook the tortellini until just tender or al dente, about 2 minutes. I used frozen tortellini and the 2 minute cooking time was perfect. Drain. Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat.
This dish was a two-night meal for my kids and I (not the hungry hubby). I just covered their leftovers in their gratin dishes, and re-heated them in the oven the next day.
I’m actually re-heating up their leftovers as I write this post.
Here they are eating their leftovers! Happy as clams!
Basic Marinara Sauce:
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small onions, finely chopped – I used yellow onions
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 dried bay leaves
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.
Let the sauce cool, and then refrigerate or freeze it. This sauce freezes very well so I saved 2 cups for the above recipe, and froze the remaining amount for a later date.
The sauce may be stored frozen for up to 3 months.