Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce

People are always asking us how we come up with recipes, and also what we cook when we don’t really have a plan, or we’re short on time.  We’ll be the first to admit that we’re not above drive-throughs, cold cereal, and frozen meals.  But sometimes you just want a good, hearty, home-cooked meal.  This is a great example of a really good dinner, that was created by simple ingredients I already had around my kitchen. I’ve said over and over that the trick to being able to whip up quick, yet delicious meals in a pinch is keeping a well-stocked pantry.  One of the things I always have around is dried pasta, in all shapes and sizes.  I love quick cooking tortellini that can be a great base to so many quick dinners- and there’s something fun about little pouches of cheese!  I also almost always have a giant package of fresh spinach from Costco in my fridge, and it’s so cheap that I don’t hesitate buying it in such large quantities.  After a week or so I’m always looking for ways to use it up quick before it goes bad.

This is an awesome little pasta bake and the great thing is that it looks fancy and tastes decadent, but it’s super simple to throw together (shhh…no one has to know!) And although it’s rich and creamy and cheesy, it’s also fairly healthy.  I love dinners that I can throw together during my baby’s nap-time and pop in the fridge to have ready at dinner time when things get crazy.

Let’s cook.

Obviously you’ll need tortellini!  You can find dried tortellini in the regular pasta aisle- a great thing to have in your pantry.

You don’t need to have any jarred sauce on hand for this dish- the sauce is SO good and you’ll be amazed how quick and easy it is.  Start by cooking up a few strips of bacon (or pancetta would be great too) until crisp.  It only takes a little bit for good flavor throughout the dish.

After you take the bacon out of the pan, you’re going to make a simple roux– but instead of butter, we’ll take advantage of the fat we’ve already got right there in the pan!  You’ll just use a little bit, and discard the rest of the grease.  I usually just take a wad of paper towels and soak it right up and toss it in the trash.  (Or save it in a jar if you’re a save-the-bacon-grease type of person)

In the little bit of bacon grease in the pan, toss in some minced garlic.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- the smell of fresh garlic sauteing in bacon drippings is one of the most intoxicating smells in the world.  Glade needs to market that one.  Add a little flour and a little milk (non-fat is fine) and you’ve got yourself a base to a nice creamy sauce.

We’ll flavor it up with salt and pepper of course, a little basil, and then some fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, and some red pepper flakes.  The lemon is so bright and so fresh, it adds the perfect flavor to this creamy, savory dish.  And with the red pepper flakes, you can add just a little, for flavor and no heat- or a lot, for flavor and a nice kick.  Up to you.  It’s like a choose your own adventure book (remember those??)  I added 1/4 teaspoon and it wasn’t spicy at all.  Really.  I promise.

By now those tortellini are done cooking (they only take about 10 minutes) so drain those and then place them back in the pot they came out of.

When our recipes call for “loosely packed spinach” this is what we mean.  Just set the spinach in the measuring cup gently and don’t pack it down.

And when we say “roughly chopped” it just looks like this- no need to be meticulous, just run a knife through it real quick.

The tortellini is back in the pot and now we’ll toss in the spinach and the bacon (I reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon to put on top at the end)

We’ll also add a little cheese, both Parmesan and Mozarella, for flavor and creamy-melty-cheesy-goodness.  If you wanted to bulk up the meal and add some protein, some chopped grilled chicken would be fantastic ion there too!

Stir in the sauce and pop it all in a baking dish with a little more cheese and bacon on top.   At this point it can be covered in foil and go in the fridge for later, or right into the oven.

It bakes up in 20-30 minutes, and while it’s in the hot oven the flavors have a party and come out tasting even better than when they started.  Amazing how that happens!

Serve it as a one dish dinner with a piece of crusty french bread on the side, or as a side to chicken or steak.  Makes a great addition to a pot-luck too.  With the fun tortellini and the yummy cheesy sauce, my kids said NOTHING about the fact that there was spinach in there.  Plus one for team Mom!



  1. Once upon a time I thought I’d be clever and keep the bacon grease in a can under my sink until I opened it one day and smelled it. It, in NO way, smells like delicious frying bacon. It was bad enough to kibosh the idea and use the grease only if it’s fresh from the pan. Hats off to people who can handle the smell…and the new wardrobe required if cooking with bacon grease all the time.

    Oh, and a big fat mmmmmmm on this recipe. I like.

      1. I do what my mom always did – Keep bacon grease in a coffee mug in the door of the fridge – and when done cooking bacon, it gets poured directly into the mug. If it happens to be full, the grease gets disposed of. Then, whenever you would use a little butter or margarine in cooking, say to grease a pan before sauteing, instead we use the grease. 99% of the time you don’t even taste the bacon – I just don’t recommend using it in any type of baking… unless you’re going for the hint ‘o bacon flavour!

  2. Ummmm….YUM! This looks FABULOUS! And, as a side note…I hosted Easter brunch yesterday for both my family and my husband’s, and every item I made was out of your cookbook. I got SOOOOO many compliments!! Blog followers, if you don’t yet have this cookbook, go get it today!

  3. Are you kidding me?! I just looked in my fridge at my huge package of spinach and my tortellini and thought, “What am I going to do with these?” We’re so eating this for dinner. Thanks!

    1. Same here! I had spinach, milk, bacon, and cheese to use up before traveling for the holidays, plus a package of tortellini with an expiration date of 12/24. This is dinner (and lunch tomorrow).

  4. This looks and sounds easy and delicious. A perfect combination with a new baby about to arrive. I’ll have to make sure I have these ingredients in my pantry and fridge. By the way, I just got your cookbook and I’m so excited! I love how there are pictures of every single recipe. Mmmmm…

  5. Yeah! i have extra Tortellini left from when I made the Tortellini soup on your website. This will be perfect for using it up. Thanks!

  6. Darn I was about to pick up some cheese tortellini the other day at the store but didn’t. Guess I’ll have to make another trip to the store so I can make this!

    PS Oh how I wish you were going to be doing some signings in Texas (it IS right next to Louisiana! Wink. Wink.)

  7. This looks fabulous. Unfortunately my hubby wont eat tortellini. It goes back to an experience when he was younger and ate them while he was sick. Maybe I could try this with some raviolis…

  8. This looks so good! I need to add fresh spinach to my regular grocery list because there are recipes like this one I can use it for – it’s just not something I normally have on hand. And I think my little boy would eat this because he loves the spinach/cheese ravioli you can get at Costco. 🙂

    1. Follow-up: Made this for dinner last night and it was a hit! I originally was just going to half the recipe because there is only three of us, but then that didn’t seem like very much so I went ahead and did the whole recipe. My husband is not a big fan of white/creamy sauces (other than for homemade mac-n-cheese) and he ate two helpings AND took the leftovers for lunch. My four-year-old turns his nose up at anything new and he ate ALL of his!! My only thought was the lemon was just a little too strong for my liking, but not enough to deter me from finishing it. I think this will become a regular on our dinner menu. 🙂

  9. That is just beautiful! I love those kind of wonderful dinners and my kiddos will gobble it right up! Thanks so much for sharing your talents with all of us!

  10. This looks yummy….would thawed-out frozen spinach work instead of fresh? Fresh spinach goes bad on me before I have a chance to use it so I usually just buy frozen (that and my husband is picky with veggies…yet my toddler loves spinach. Go figure!). I guess I’d have to use a smaller amount since the frozen spinach is so tightly packed? What do you think? :o)

    1. Yes Anne- that would work just fine! Just squeeze out all of the liquid of course. Honestly, you could probably add the whole box- I would just give it all a rough chop first. And just eyeball it if you don’t want so much in there.

  11. Thank you for coming up with my dinner tonight. Really appreciate that. 🙂 I was getting a little worried.. But you pulled through as usual.

  12. Looks delicious. I might have to make for dinner this week. Thanks!

  13. I have some frozen little purses that are filled with brie & roasted garlic, I’d love to try using this recipe but I’m not sure if they should just be thawed or cooked in water first…any thought’s ????

  14. Made this for dinner tonight. Super yummy!!! I used spinach cheese tortellini from Aldi’s and an Italian cheese blend. Turned out wonderful! And I am not big on casseroles, but this not only tastes great, the presentation is nice too!

  15. This is my first post I’m leaving on your site. I have made several recipes and they have all been a big hit. I made this tonight for dinner and everyone loved it. My pickiest eater kept telling me how much he loved it. We don’t normally eat bacon so I subbed in turkey bacon. Thanks for the great recipes.

  16. I made this tonight, and it was FANTASTIC! My husband and I both loved it, and throughout the meal, all we talked about was how delish it was!!!

  17. I just have to say that I check out your blog on a regular basis and I am a HUGE fan. All of the recipes I have attempted have turned out great and I look forward to your newest entries. I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of your book at Chapters – will they be carrying it at any point soon? Can’t wait to try this latest recipe out! Looks yummy:)

    1. Thanks Jacqueline! I’m not sure if Chapters will be carrying it (that’s in Canada, right?) but I’ll run it by our publisher!

  18. I should not read your blog when I’m hungry, trying figure to figure out what to make for dinner, and without ingredients.

  19. Just finished this for dinner – so tasty! I used frozen chopped spinach and it worked fine, although my 6-yr-old would have preferred fresh. 🙂 I’m thinking about trying it with some roasted red peppers in the sauce, rather than the lemon (not that it needs replacing – I loved the unexpected lift it gave to the flavor) just since it reminded me of my favorite lasagna recipe. Thanks!

    1. Ang, I *almost* put roasted red peppers in there too. I sat there staring at the jar forever trying to decide! Lol It would taste great!

  20. Made this for dinner tonight and it was a HUGE hit! When all three of my kids will eat all of it I know it’s a must make again recipe! 🙂 My grocery store didn’t have the barilla brand of the spinach and cheese tortellini so I used a different brand and the tortellini’s were green. Even though the color wasn’t as pretty my kids still ate it all.
    Next time I’m going to try adding grilled chicken to it. YUM!

    1. Not at this point Michelle- but maybe in the future! We’ll actually be in AZ next month but the trip is looking too busy to squeeze in a signing!

  21. yum yum yum! i made it tonight and added 2 poached chicken breasts and it was a HIT! all 4 of my kids, even the baby and even the pickiest, gobbled it up! thanks!

  22. Opa! That looks so good! I’ve been needing a good recipe for the lemon in our fridge. Thanks! I can’t wait to try this one!

  23. I made this for dinner last night and it was fabulous. The crushed red pepper gave it the perfect kick and the lemon made me feel somehow less guilty about the bacon and cheese. It really brightens the dish:)

  24. This looks fantastic – I can’t wait to try it. I love bacon, but I’m wondering if I could use my leftover ham from Easter instead…

    1. Marcy, it will definitely still be good- you’ll just miss that flavor component. You might want to add a little more basil or a dash of oregano instead, just too add a little more flavor in place of it.

  25. I have a silly question on “kosher” salt. Many of your recipes call for it– and we have regular salt and sea salt, but not KOSHER– so I went to look for it and all I found was COARSE kosher salt…. so do you use that? Do you grind it up first? Did I look in the wrong place? Sorry to be dumb:) I bought the cookbook and am LOVING making so many things!! Thank you!!

  26. We had this for dinner last night and it was awesome! I didn’t have a lemon, so just left that out. I used a package of frozen tortellini and just added them to the rest of the ingredients while the tortellini was still frozen. It was delicious!! Thank you 🙂

  27. This is a great recipe, but I wasn’t crazy about the lemon in it. Next time, I’ll just stick with the cheesey goodness and add a little more red pepper flakes.

  28. I so love the big cheap bag of spinach at Costco! One tip to make it last longer is to put a paper towel in it once you open it, I just fold it in quarters and slide it in on the side of the bag. I think it’s supposed to just suck up extra moisture,I know mine lasts so much longer with it. I keep bacon in a ziploc in my freezer for this kind of recipe too. You can slice off the pieces even when it’s frozen and it works perfectly for when you need just a little for for the flavor. Can’t wait to try this recipe!!

  29. I made this last night! I doubled the garlic, added mushrooms (a great addition), forgot the lemon juice (oops), used only mozzarella cheese, and used tricolor/three cheese tortellini. My hubby raved about it (he even called my mom to thank her for raising me to be a good cook.) It was delicious, fast (30 minutes start to table!), and I didn’t have to measure anything! Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  30. This looks amazing…sadly, I have yet to discover gluten free tortellini. Maybe in a few years…

  31. I frequently click on your blog if I’m in a rut and need dinner ideas. I’m so glad I pulled it up today. I made this for dinner and will definitely be making this again. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  32. My kids refuse to eat tortilini, but I decided to try it anyways….low and behold, they all gobbeled this up!!! I used turkey bacon instead so there was no greese for the sauce, so I added a small bit of butter to saute the garlic in. This was super super yummy! Thanks!

  33. I made this tonight and it was De-Lic-Ious! My 2 year old even asked for seconds (which has not happened in weeks)!! Thanks! : )

  34. Wow! My husband was blown away and he’s not usually a tortellini guy, but he loved this. He kept saying it tasted like we were at a restaurant. Too bad we weren’t. Hey, I’m all for family dinner, but I’ve got five boys ranging from 10 to 1. Boys 7 & 6 were fighting during dinner. Anyway, this was a HUGE hit, literally!

  35. My book club does a recipe exchange and I am sending this one out to share! Looks great, and a perfect weeknight dinner. Bummer, I live near Seattle but will be in Utah in June…when you’ll be here for signing books.

  36. This looks divine. I can’t wait to try it. And just so you know – my mom gave each of her daughters an early Mother’s Day gift – your cookbook! (There are five daughters – you should have heard the squeals and exclamations of delight – woo hoo!). Every time we have family dinner with all my siblings, spouses, etc., there’s at least OBB recipe on the table now – not to mention at our own homes! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  37. I made this last night for my family, and it isn’t the first of your recipes I have re-created! Everyone LOVED it. My husband took the leftovers for lunch today, and he called me just to tell me again how amazing it was. And his grand idea was to add sun-dried tomatoes to the mix next time. I think this is one of our new favorites. Thank you so much for yet another incredible and easy recipe!!

  38. Made this tonight. It was a huge hit! My extremely picky eater 7 year old threw a fuss about having to try any. I only gave him 2 tortellinis. Well, pretty soon he was dishing up some more of it for himself – twice!! Thanks for a “keeper!”

  39. Where can I get this dried tortellini? I only ever see the Bertoli kind in the refridgerator section.

    1. I found mine in the dry pasta aisle of Walmart (and it was even the right brand, Barilla). I lucked out because the stores where I live don’t usually carry such things and there were 3 bags on the shelf.

  40. I just made this for dinner and WOW it’s a great recipe! My family lovvvvvved it! Putting this in my permanent recipe file. Thx

  41. I made this tonight, and it was delicious. It did take me a bit longer than I expected, but it was SO worth it. I had never tried the boxed tortellinis before, so that’s a nice discovery. I’m vegetarian, and I substituted sun-dried tomatoes for the bacon. I’m going to make this again next week when my in-laws are visiting!

  42. I kept the bacon, but also added some chopped leftover ham from Easter and it was fantastic! My store didn’t have dried tortellini so I used some from the refrigerator section. I used fresh basil since I have a basil plant and am always looking for excuses to use it. Thanks so much for the recipe – yum.

  43. I can find the pasta, but I can’t find it in 12 oz size, only in 8 oz. Does it come in bigger bags and I’m just not seeing it? Or can I just use any dried tortellini? It’s too expensive for me to buy 2 bags of the 8 oz stuff! But I really want to make it and have everything else for it!

    1. The only place I could find the 12 oz. bag was Vons. I looked and looked, didn’t want to pay for two small bags either!

  44. This made for a fabulous dinner tonight. Even our guests loved it and wanted to know where the recipe came from. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  45. Wonderful! Just made this for lunch and the whole family loved it. The lemon is a must, it’s what puts this recipe over the top. I could only find the cheese tortellini ( like Carissa, commentor 64, I had to buy two bags and it was rather pricey; will check Sam’s Club) and it worked great. And I hate to say it, but I may even prefer this dish without the bacon (gasp!). Thanks, can’t wait to use this recipe to impress my vegetarian friends.

  46. I just made this and it was delicious! The lemon and the red pepper flakes really add something. I had a huge bag of spinach and some garlic from my food co-op bag for this past week that I was trying to dwindle down. I used reduced fat cheeses, skim milk and turkey bacon and it was just as creamy and tasty as it would have been with the full fat ingredients(IMO). Thanks for a great recipe! I’m going to keep this one on file for sure.

  47. Just made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! I’m just coming off of finals week and guess I’m still a bit frazzled as I was rushing around like a mad woman trying to pull this together (I didn’t think ahead and pull the ingredients out before I started cooking). I had the pasta boiling too high and the sauce not high enough but once I finally got those under control, it was a breeze to make. It smells and tastes divine! I will be making this recipe again.

  48. I made this last week and froze it. We had it for dinner last night and it was delicious! I added some cooked, shredded chicken, and used the fresh tortellini that you only have to cook for like 6 minutes. Turned out great – my husband gave it an 8/10 – and he is a tough critic! Thanks for a great and extremely easy dinner idea!

  49. I made this for dinner last week and couldn’t believe that ALL 7 of us LOVED IT!!! My husband had his heated up later…since he didn’t get home till super late that night…and he still LOVED IT!!! In his words, “THIS IS A KEEPER!!!”

    Thanks for all the yummy recipes!!! 🙂

    Any good ideas for left over hard boiled eggs???

  50. lemon is my absolute favorite flavor, when it comes to yummy, succulent dishes. i can’t wait to try this (although I’m going to have to go to the store for ALL the ingredients.) I just tried a Greek lemon soup recipe recently, and it really was to die for. thanks for sharing!

  51. Yum! I made this for dinner tonight. You’ve really done it again, Sara. Thanks a million!

  52. I made this last night and my husband, who does not like cream-based pasta, could not stop talking about it. He had a second helping at dinner and ate the leftovers for lunch today. We loved it so much that we’re making it on Sunday for mother’s day at my parents house. Thanks for the awesome recipe! And for those of you who weren’t sure about the lemon – that is the best part!

  53. Do you think it would work ok with round ravioli?? I have raviolis that I have been wondering what to do with them…. hmmmmmm…. any opinions?

      1. Jamie – did you try it with ravioli? I think I’m going to try it tonight with the ravioli because that’s what I have on hand.

  54. I was skeptical that it was on this was on the healthy side, but I plugged it into my WW recipe builder and it only comes out to 5 points with 8 servings. Tomorrow night it is!

  55. Oh my… I sit here, based on aroma alone (and perhaps a lick off the spoon of the leftover sauce) I am resisting the temptation of eating the entire casserole dish, before my little ones wake up! Thank you for this recipe, I already love it and I haven’t even taken a bite!

  56. i have a question about spinach – fresh spinach can be so expensive and frozen is a lot more reasonable, however i HATE defrosting spinach because it seems like the water NEVER comes out!! i squeeze and squeeze and there’s always more, and then it’s chopped so small that it goes through the strainer holes and I lose half of it haha. do you know of any good methods for defrosting spinach? I definitely prefer fresh because I think it tastes better and is a lot easier so my second question is can you freeze bagged spinach, because mine usually goes bad before I can use it all

  57. LOVED this! Husband LOVED this too!! He had wide eyes all through dinner and kept asking, “what’s this called??!” Thank you!!!

  58. I made this for dinner this last week and we loved it. I used a couple tbls of butter since I had pre-cooked bacon. I also added a chicken breast, thinly sliced, and pan seared with garlic salt. It was wonderful and oh so easy.

  59. I made this for dinner the other night and posted it on my blog. I linked it back to you guys. I love everything I make from your recipes and so far, not one has been even remotely so so. Keep making such wonderful dishes, please.

  60. I just had to tell you that I was sitting here about an hour ago, unsure of what I was cooking for dinner. Then I remembered this blog and that I picked up some of this pasta. I didn’t have any spinach but I just grilled up some chicken and asparagus for the side. Yum! It was a hit. Thanks! I love that your recipes are super yummy and can almost always be flexible if I’m missing something.

  61. I have never posted a comment but every recipe that I have made has been awesome!! I never worry if it will be good as I know that it will!! This was another winner and I will make it again. Honestly I was worried about the lemon,thought that it might be too overpowering but it was perfect in this dish. Thought maybe I would try it with just penne next time. Thanks!

  62. Made this for my mommy who was visiting for Mother’s Day! DE-LICIOUS! We baked 1 1/2 chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper and a garlic and herb seasoning (from Sam’s Club) and then diced it up and added it in with the spinach and cheeses before baking… it was so GOOD… like Olive Garden good! Served along with salad and rolls, the perfect Mother’s Day meal! THANKS again for ANOTHER yummy EASY meal!

  63. Would this be freezer friendly? I bought a big bag of fresh spinach and don’t want to waste it…but I can’t do to many meals that are similar right close to each other.

    1. Katie, I *think* so but I can’t be sure because I’ve never tried it! Next time I make it, I’ll put a little in the freezer to test it out!

  64. I made this for Mother’s Day…delicious! Thanks again for all of the great recipes, my family loves them!

  65. I’m going to be honest. When I read this recipe, I thought y’all had finally come up with a bad recipe. I mean lemon and bacon??? Together??? But after so many great reviews I decided that I needed to trust you. After all, you have not let me down yet.

    SUPERB!!! I added some julienned sun-dried tomatoes. I used whole wheat tortellini, 1% milk, and used a little less cheese than what was called for to make it a little more figure friendly. It was great – like I was licking the sauce pan the sauce was so good! I got thumbs up from the hubby and 4 kiddos.

    Oh and thank you for letting us know that the 1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes were not hot. Really it gave it a “seasoned” taste not a “spicy” taste. If you had not put that comment, I probably would have left them out and it would have been missing something.

  66. Making this for supper tonight. I tasted the sauce before I combined everything and wow it was so good! The brightness the lemon gives the sauce is just wonderful. Omitted the bacon and will be serving with salad and garlic bread. Thanks for an awesome recipe!

  67. YUMMMMMMMM I just made this for dinner and it turned out WAY better than I anticipated, the only thing I changed was I added some cooked chicken to it 🙂 will make this again!!!

  68. i was finally able to track down the tortellini (the last bag) and i have been looking since you published this recipe …you guys should alert the various grocery stores prior to new recipes ideas so they can prepare for the stampede. Let’s just say i think you have somewhat of a following. Looking forward to making this one. Thank you in advance for a yummy supper here at the ranch.

  69. Oh my! This recipe is too good. I doubled it and delivered half to a friend that just had a baby. It was a huge hit at her house too. Pasta is my weakness and this was just what my pregnant tastebuds needed! 🙂 Thanks Sara.

  70. I can’t wait to make this for my family. Thank you for a great place to come and get wonderful ideas.

  71. So I made it this week. It was wonderful and everyone loved it. At the end, I realized…I never put the spinach in. So I’m going to make this again and freeze it (with the spinach)….when I go to bake it, do you think I should thaw it, or just pop it in frozen? How much extra time do you expect it would take.

    1. Katie, I’ve done frozen pasta dishes both ways and they both seem to work fine. I’ve never frozen this dish, but with similar dishes I’ve popped them in frozen. If you have time to thaw it first, I would do that just because it will probably bake more evenly, but I think it will work from frozen as well. You’ll just have to eyeball it on the time, I’m guessing it will take about 15-20 mins longer but you never know. I would also bake it covered with foil so it doesn’t dry out and maybe take the foil off for the last 15 minutes or so.

  72. I made this last Thursday. I had to use a different tortellini (3-cheese, I believe is what I ended up getting), because I couldn’t find the spinach variety anywhere locally. It was still very delicious, though, and definitely on my “make again” list! I froze my leftovers for lunches (already had some yesterday, and it warmed up beautifully). Thanks so much!

  73. First of all I LOVE your page, it’s a daily reader for me. I have tried many of your recipes but I drool over all of them. Tonight I made this Tortellini dish and OMG, it was fabulous. This might be my new “go to dinner party” dish. I loved it, my husband loved and more importantly, my 4 year old actually ate it. Thanks for sharing your creativity. I couldn’t resist sharing this recipe on my blog. 🙂

  74. Ok so I couldn’t find the Tortellini at the grocery store… Can I substitute farfalle?
    Have to feed 30 tomorrow night!

    1. Sure, you could sub just about any pasta in there. Or check the refrigerated section of the grocery store for fresh tortellini, or the freezer section for frozen!

  75. I made this for dinner last night, and it was AMAZING! I happened to have about a cup and a half of left over beef from our french dip sandwiches (another HUGE hit in our house:) so I added that in, and it tasted like it was something out of a fancy resturant! My husband who eats out all the time for work, couldn’t get enough!

  76. Oh my goodness…. SO divine! Husband says its even better the next day, and swears its better than olive garden! All three of my picky boys ate it up ( ages 2,4,6) The 4 year old picked out and ate all the spinach first! haha! Guess i will add more of that for him next time! I did half the lemon amounts becuase of some of the comments. Also the pasta you used they dont have in texas.. or at least the albertsons here doesnt.. i used the pasta by the cheese thats “fresh” in the refridgerated section.

  77. I tried this with my family and got a thumbs up from everyone! That does not happen very often – I will definitely be doing this one again.

  78. I made this recipe the other night and loved it! My hubby even loved it… even after he stated that he wouldn’t like it when I told him what was in it. It is going to be added to the regular rotation!

  79. I doubled the recipe and added the meat from a Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken. It made 2 – 9×13 pans. I froze one and had it later. It does freeze well. I’d make a little more sauce next time, since I added the chicken, but it was WONDERFUL! Everyone loves it!

  80. I just tried this recipe last night and I thought it was delicious. Have you ever thought of adding artichoke hearts (instead of or in addition to the lemon) to this as a take on spinach artichoke dip?

    1. Yes! In fact I had a jar of artichoke hearts on my counter until the very last minute trying to decide whether or not to put it in! I would be so good. The only reason I decided not to add them was because I was trying to keep the recipe as simple as possible and we have several other really similar recipes that include artichokes. But it would seriously taste awesome! I would probably but back on the lemon a bit though, since artichokes are tangy as well. Let me know if you try it!

  81. So I have been so excited to make this dish for dinner, but COULD NOT find those tortellini at any of my grocery stores in utah! Am I looking in the right place? I just went down the dry pasta aisle and couldn’t find them. I did find some DaVinci tortellinis but no spinach and cheese ones, which I really wanted to try. Hmmmm I guess I struggle with finding things. Am I looking in the right place? It looks so yummy!!

    1. Jessica, I think this is a new product so it might not be in your store quite yet. I would ask the store manager just to check, and then if you still can’t find it- you could try another brand, or try the fresh pasta (usually near the cheese, or in the deli) and you could sub fresh tortellini. You can also usually find tortellini in the freezer section as well.

  82. I made this for dinner tonight, and it was fantastic! Myself and my fiance absolutely loved it, and our toddler ate four whole bites before leaving the dinner table, which we considered a huge success (seriously, why do children refuse to eat for weeks at a time??). We both thought the lemon flavor was a really nice touch, and the addition of some grilled chicken really made it a meal. Unfortunately, to save time, I made the bacon hours beforehand to get that part out of the way (in the oven – thanks for the tips!), and forgot to save the drippings. I nearly cried. Garlic and bacon are two of my most favorite things, and I’m pretty sure your description of that part is what made me make this. So, sadly, I had to use butter for my roux. Still, absolutely wonderful! Thanks for the recipe, and best of luck in the contest!!

  83. holy cow. just made this and before it goes in the oven I’m pretty sure I could eat the entire pan myself. Amazing. Now we’ll see what the kids and husband think. Next time I’ll pick up a costco rotisserie chicken and throw that in there. Also, I had bad luck with the bacon drippings/flour combo and ended up re-doing it using butter. However the problem could have been I had to break up a knock down drag out fight between my boys right in the middle of the flour roux deal. Not a good combo, i know. thanks again.

  84. PS. our store only carried a little bag of the barrilla tortellini (dinner for 2)…It was less expensive for me to buy the fresh tortellini than to buy 2-3 of the little bags. Still turned out amazing!

  85. This was the first recipe I tried from your site. It was so good, I’ve now based the rest of the weeks menu off other recipes I’ve found here! Thanks for so many family friendly meal ideas.

  86. I just made this last night…it was soooo good! The only thing I changed was using turkey bacon but I’m sure it tastes almost the same. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

  87. Oh my I am so excited to make this tonight! It’s awful because I seriously flip through your recipes all day at work and then I pick up whatever I need on the way home to make it for dinner. My husband doesn’t complain but my pants sure are starting to! I have loved EVERYTHING I’ve made from your blogs! My entire family is hooked!

  88. Like all of your other recipes, this was fantastic. My boyfriend kept hinting that he would be requesting this one again and again. I added chicken, as suggested, and it really is a winner of a recipe. Thanks!

  89. I also couldn’t find the baged dried stuff – so I went with the fresh but I also have a large family (6 kids and expecting) so I used two packs of tortellini but didn’t think to double the sauce – OPPS! But then I cooked it in a 9×13 and it stuck a little to the bottom, but it was still good and with some tweeking I will make it again. Hubby came out and saw me using my zester for the first time (honestly the first time I had ever used it in 15 years!) and said it was sexy! Thanks for another great recipe – can’t wait to see what you all will have me making for dinner tomorrow night? LOL

  90. Definitely going to try this!

    As a side note, I save my bacon grease in a jar that goes into the FRIDGE. No way would I ever just leave it out, even in a dark cupboard. I know people who do this and think they’re nuts. It goes rancid like any other grease/oil. (I’ve had one woman tell me it was impossible for this to happen – uh, why?) In the fridge, it firms up into an easy to scoop/measure solid and stays fresh for a long time. I toss a tablespoon into a skillet to fry up veggies, add it to potatoes, roast asparagus with it, etc. regularly!

  91. Made this be sure to cool your pan after frying your bacon for about 3 minutes to not burn garlic. I added some chicken doubled the cheese and added a little extra garlic. A friend commented that this was better then any resturant- Could open a catering business with this dish alone. Oh couldnt find the pasta so just used 3 cheeses and upped the amount of spinach by a cup. THANK YOU for the AWESOME recipe.

  92. I am making this for dinner and it smells delish! I was wondering what you thought about adding pesto to the recipe? I might try it next time but I wasn’t sure if it would take away from the lemon taste too much. What do you think?

  93. wonderful recipe!!! I made this with 1/2 a box of frozen chopped spinach, turkey bacon and as recommended less lemon. It was fabulous and will be a regular in my house. Oh, and I paired this with some baked chicken drumsticks…yummo!

  94. My husband ranked this in the top five things I have ever made!!!! I will definitely be making this again. Thanks! 🙂

  95. I was super excited when I first clicked on this dish after seeing it in the Vegetarian section of your website, but was a little bummed to see that it wasn’t completely veggie friendly. Personally, I love bacon but my roommate is a lifelong Vegetarian. I really want to try this recipe so he can enjoy it too our apartment cooking nights, but I’m wondering if it will be too lemon-y and tart without the smokey flavors of the meat. Any suggestions on how to modify this recipe? Thanks!

    P.S: I love this site so much! I’m a college student on my own for the first time and this site has been invaluable. I can look in the same place to find new, interesting recipes while learning the basics at the same time. Perfect for a girl who is just starting to cook for herself. The Tutorials section has saved my life, no joke.

    1. Anna, we include recipes in our vegetarian section that are either vegetarian, *or* easily adapted to be. You can certainly leave out the bacon and use a traditional roux (with butter) for the sauce. Enjoy!

    2. I made a veg version of it using butter instead of bacon grease, and it was still wonderful! I just added some oregano, and it was not too lemony or tart!

    3. Anna – Have you tried the fake bacon that Morningstar Farms makes? It’s usually sold in the freezer section. I’ve used it a few times and found that it has a smokey flavor (although not as much as real bacon) but that it makes a nice substitute sometimes. Maybe try that for your roommate 🙂

  96. This is the first thing I have ever made from y’all…and it was so YUMMY! I took leftovers to lunch the first week back at school and the next day was copying the recipe for everyone. 🙂

  97. Oh em gee. I just made this. It is my new FAVORITE recipe. It was way better than any restaurant food I have ever had. It was so delicious and flavorful. I used colored tortellinis and it made the dish looks so festive. I loved it. Thank you!

  98. I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and made it tonight. It was every bit as delicious as I thought it would be! Even my “meat ‘n potatoes” husband LOVED it! Thanks for a great recipe that I’ll definitely be making again and again!

  99. I made this last night and it was phenomenal!! Both my boyfriend and I went back for seconds, and I have it for lunch again today…. extremely tasty! I can’t recommend it enough 🙂

  100. I made this tonight after my BFF gave it rave reviews. It was great! My family really enjoyed it. I left out the lemon (because I was frazzled and forgot it!) and added in some cooked chicken. My husband said it was awesome and that he’d pay money to eat that. My non-veggie eater asked for seconds. The other kids enjoyed it as well. It’s a keeper for us!! Thank you! 🙂

  101. I made this with my mom and the whole family loved it, except for my lil’ bro, but he doesn’t count, he doesn’t like anything. I used pancetta which was a really yum substitute for bacon

  102. um holy cow. That was amazing. I just stuffed my gullet with this awesome meal and want to keep snacking out of the pan. Pretty sure I’ll have it for breakfast too. ps, I cooked it 20 min at 400, no foil and it was perfectly browned and bubbly.

  103. One great thing about having these ingredients is you can add a few and have a great veggie quiche reducing chance of waste

  104. Hi there! I am looking for meal that I can prep and pop into the oven the next evening. Do you think that this would keep before baking for 24 hours? Thanks so much! It looks amazing!

  105. I made this for dinner tonight…I loved it! The dish had such interesting flavor between the bacon, cheese, red pepper, and lemon all mixed together. It was really good.

  106. Yum. I didn’t have bacon, so I left that out and added cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. Can’t wait for my leftovers at lunch tomorrow!

  107. Just made a veg version of this (minus the spinach, sis doesn’t like it!) But it was super still delicious! Also left out the red pepper flakes and added oregano, and used refrigerated cheese tortellini. It didn’t taste anything like I expected it to when I read the recipe, but it was great!! Served it with a salad and garlic bread for a yummy and quick meal. Thanks for this 🙂

  108. Made this the other night for my family…along with the Hot Crab Dip posted by this website…and both were amazing. My 2 year old loved the pasta and so did my husband who will rarely eat anything with spinach in it!! I felt like I was eating at some great italian resturaunt! We added chicken to ours to make it an all around meal…and it was fabulous!!!

  109. This is just what I was craving, today. Woke up thinking about a creamy pasta to make for dinner. It was delicious. I thought I had red pepper flakes, but we were out and did not have anything to bring any heat, so I decided to change it up and use a dash of nutmeg. I will also double up the ingredients since I have two grown men living in my house. My boyfriend always enjoys seconds and thirds.

  110. I saw this on pinterest and as I type it is baking in the oven! I can’t wait to try it…I made my with ground italian sausage 🙂 I love your blog and have been looking at it daily for ideas.


  111. Found this recipe on Pinterest…absoulty delicious! I was a bit worried because the pancetta smelled a little weird while cooking (never had it before) but this will defiantly be a regular at our house 🙂 thanks!

  112. Hi Sara,
    I made this last night and we loved it! I doubled it and froze half in a baking dish. I think it will be good but a little dry – any suggestions for adding moisture when I bake it? Thanks!

  113. I may have commented on this recipe last year when you first posted it, but I LOVE IT and just made it again and had to tell you about it. 🙂 I hope this one is in the next recipe book!

  114. Thanks so much for sharing! I made this last night and it was very easy and turned out SO good. I put some chicken in for my carnivorous husband, and it took on the great flavor of the sauce. I have plenty left over for another night this week. YUMMY!

    1. Lol, we know bacon is meat! We put meatless tags on recipes that are easily adapted to be meatless. In this case, you can obviously just nix the bacon and use butter in the roux 🙂

  115. I made this tonight and LOVED it! I made it with penne pasta because no one in my family (besides me) likes tortellini. I added some grilled chicken from last night’s dinner. I love that it makes a cream sauce without using cream! Seriously divine! I put two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice in the sauce and I think next time I’ll add more to make it more lemony. Thanks for this and so many other fabulous recipes!

  116. Made this tonight and I loved it. I did cut back on the lemon, but everything else I left the same. SO GOOD.

  117. I tried making this tonight and as soon as I added the lemon ingredients, it immediately began to curdle my milk. It looked like homemade buttermilk (ie not very pleasant). Any thoughts on what I did wrong?

  118. I made this for the family, adding small pieces of cooked chicken breast. Everyone loved it. Our only complaint-NO leftovers!

  119. Can this meal be made ahead of time and put in the refrigerator? I’d like to make ahead and pop in the oven when company arrives! Thanks, sounds delicious!

  120. This recipe looks amazing and easy and I’d love to try it! The only problem is, I don’t eat pork. Do you think that it would work with turkey bacon?

  121. I just made this for dinner tonight and it was awesome! It has my boys’ four favorite foods: pasta, cheese, spinach and bacon! Thanks for this great recipe that is so easy but so full of flavor!

  122. This dish was awesome! Big hit. I added diced, fresh Roma tomatoes and chicken. Next time will have to make a double batch for family of 6.

    And, yes, a good Southern girl knows how to use bacon grease.

  123. This looks amazing. I am trying to find meals to prepare and put in the freezer before baby arrives. Do you think I could make this and freeze it in a foil casserole dish? Thanks for the recipe!

  124. I made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit! My 15 year old daughter (who is extremely picky) said it tastes like something from a restaurant.

  125. I made this for a holiday dinner party last month (omitting bacon/sub butter, since we had vegetarians eating it), and it was a huge hit! Thanks for the simple to follow instructions (I never could quite get a roux to work out well, but your directions helped me immensely). This is now a staple in our house!

  126. Oh, how yummy! This recipe was very easy to make. The next time I make it I’m going to make some slight modifications. I happened to really like the flavor but my husband wasn’t crazy about the strong lemon taste(2-Zest to 1-juice)so the next time I’m going to opt for 2-juice to 1-Zest mixture. Also, I’m going to use one extra cup (or more) of spinach next time. We really like spinach so the extra punch of greens will do us good. Highly recommended recipe! Enjoy!!

  127. I made this tonight, and it was soo yummy! I opted to leave out the lemon completely, and it was still quite tasty! Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  128. This is in the oven RIGHT NOW and while I messed up several times, I expect it will be delicious regardless. (I was trying to make extra sauce to compensate for adding chicken, and ended up actually making less roux than the recipe called for, so it didn’t really get thick. Yet it seemed to look all right when I mixed it all up.) Thanks for posting a fool-proof recipe for fools like me. 🙂

  129. Yum, made this tonight. I loaded it up with veggies..onion, bell peppers, mushroons, squash and the entire bag of spinach. I used turkey bacon which didn’t produce enough grease to cook my flour so I had to toss in a bit of butter. The lemon really makes the flavors all come together.

  130. We just had this for dinner! I had to come let you know how amazing this was! Absolutely awesome! Im adding it to my rotation 🙂 only other thing I did was I used the remaining bacon grease and mixed it with the pasta and spinach before adding everything else, gave the spinach an extra boost! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  131. Delicious! Made this for my family and recently for a potluck. Couldn’t find the dry pasta last time. Fresh spinach and cheese tortellini from refrigerated section in the market was great.

  132. This is PERFECT! Looking for a quick fix tonight (and knew I had tortellini, so I started there) and I luckily have everything in this recipe! That doesn’t happen to me too often either! 🙂 Thanks!

  133. This was great! I only found 8 oz boxes of tortellini and I just used all of it. I also used the smaller amt of lemon you recommended b/c I’m not the biggest lemon fan and it was perfect. Enough to add brightness without the whole dish being too citrus-y. Thanks for the great new meal!

  134. I made this the other night. Everyone loved it. Next time I will omit the bacon and add a whole lot more lemon juice. I instagrammed a photo with ourbites as the hashtag.

    1. Thanks for sharing it!

  135. I was totally uninspired on what to make for dinner. Had tortellini in my fridge and wanted to use it but had no idea how to do that…. THANK YOU for being awesome. This dinner was delicious and miraculously I had all of the ingredients (except fresh lemon…) But, I felt so blessed! It was so good! Thank you again!

    1. I’ve never frozen it, but most dishes like this freeze well so I’d give it a shot!

  136. I just made this. Outstanding. Didn’t change a thing. I’m not a fan of cooked spinach or lemon in savory dishes. Given that EVERY SINGLE RECIPE I’ve tried from your site has turned out excellent, I decided to give this a try. My lifestyle is quite busy so I think this would be tough to make during the week. I was wondering if I could make it the night before up to the point where you put the cheese/pancetta on top to bake it…

    In other new…I love your website, tips, and recipes. I can’t get enough. I would love to see a broccoli casserole recipe that is on the lighter side…you know those broccoli casseroles where sometimes you find them with rice or chicken or mushrooms, etc.. I love them but they are never good for you! Velveeta (gasp) or cheese whiz (no lie and double gasp).

    1. Yep, you could definitely make it ahead of time and just keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. I’m glad you’re enjoying our recipes!

  137. I just made this tonight and I loved it. My 4 year old even liked which was a relief as the last time I made tortellini he said he didn’t like it and refused to even try it. I switched up my tortellini for the tri colored ones. I even wrote about the meal on my blog.

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