Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baked Tortellini Gratinati

With fancy dinner plans on Saturday night for the end of Restaurant Week, Max Man and I decided to take it easy and have a Friday night in. Going down the list of food genres, we decided to go with something of the Italian influence because we had a hankering for some pasta.

I've had baked tortellini on the list to try so after googling a few recipes I discovered that many dubbed this as a Gratinati. Rather than going to Wikipedia to define this, I'm pretty sure the context clues point to this as an Italian-type gratin. A gratin is typically topped with something (cheese!!) and baked - think potatoes au gratin. Meh?

I happened to have a cup of left over rotisserie shredded chicken from earlier in the week so I decided to add that in for protein. I also wanted to incorporate some kind of vegetable so after debating, we chose asparagus spears over broccoli, they take up less room than full florets meaning we could use more. Finally, the recipes I found all used an alfredo cheese sauce but seeing how alfredo contains 1) more cheese and 2) a lot of cream, we opted to get a tomato sauce in a can, fancy it to our tastes and stick with the cheeses for the topping to help cut back on the additional fats.

The end result was delicious and up for a repeat nomination.

Grocery List:
  • 1 package of tri-color cheese tortellini
  • 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • Basil, oregano, parsley to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup shredded chicken (I recommend a nice rotisserie chicken)
  • 8-10 asparagus spears, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Half and Half
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese 
  • Pinch of Asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmegiano Reggiano, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup low fat and part-skim Mozzarella, shredded
Start by heating your oven to 425 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil, add tortellini and lower heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes until slightly larger. Drain almost immediately to prevent overcooking; the tortellini will continue to cook in the oven when topped with the sauce.   

In a skillet, add some olive oil and saute asparagus until bright green. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, add your tortellini, diced tomatoes, chicken and asparagus.

Followed by ricotta cheese and a pinch of the shredded asiago cheese.

Stir it all together gently so that you don't break the tortellini.

In a sauce pan, heat the tomato sauce until just boiling and add the garlic, oregano and basil.Looking back, I would have roasted the garlic first, before adding it to the sauce, for a little more of the garlic flavor.

Now add the Half and Half to make a nice creamy tomato sauce.

Scoop about 2 wooden spoonfuls of your tortellini mix into an individual casserole bowl.

Top with your sauce, gently separating the contents with a spoon to help seep down into the pasta.

Top with your cheeses - I sprinkled some dried basil for a finishing touch.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.

Carefully remove and let cool for close to 5 minutes. Enjoy!

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