Copycat Olive Garden TORTELLINI or RAVIOLI AL FORNO
1 large family-size package (about 20 oz.) fresh refrigerated tortellini or ravioli (mine was stuffed with spinach and cheese)
4-6 slices thick bacon, uncooked & cut into small 1-2” pieces
2 tsp. garlic, minced or crushed……………..… 2 TB all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (any kind ~ I use unsweetened plain almond or cashew milk)
About 1 tsp. Kosher salt………………………..... 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. crushed dry basil leaves…………....1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves ~or~ 1/2 tsp. dry oregano leaves, crushed
1 tsp. crushed dry oregano leaves………….….1/2 tsp. cracked red pepper flakes
2-3 TB fresh parsley, chopped
About 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1/4 cup shredded or grated fresh Parmesan cheese (more, if you want)
About 3/4 to 1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
First, cook the tortellini/ravioli per package instructions ~ then drain (but do NOT rinse) and set aside.
It’s easiest to use your kitchen shears to cut the bacon into 1-2” pieces ~ then toss them into a large skillet (on medium heat), until crisp on all sides. Remove from the pan, set aside to cool ~ leaving about 2 TB bacon grease in the pan.
Add garlic to pan, cooking for about one minute. Gradually whisk in flour, stirring constantly, until all flour is incorporated and grease has thickened. Now gradually WHISK IN milk (whisk constantly here). When milk is all whisked in, bring mixture to boil ~ add salt, peppers and herbs. Reduce heat back to low and simmer for 2-3 more minutes (stirring a few times, so it doesn’t burn) until it starts to thicken (should be a little thicker if you want to serve right away)……………….
TO SERVE RIGHT AWAY:
……….Add all the cheeses. Stir until well incorporated and thick. Toss in the spinach and the drained tortellini ~ use a rubber spatula to carefully mix it into the sauce. When the spinach has wilted (about 1 minute), turn off the heat. Add the cooked bacon and serve.
TO SERVE and BAKE LATER:
………Remove saucepan from heat. Heat your oven to 350. Spray a 3-1/2 qt. casserole with non-stick cooking spray.
Put the drained tortellini back into the saucepan with the sauce. Reserve 1 TB of the cooked bacon ~ add the rest to the pasta mixture. Add spinach and cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup mozzarella to sprinkle on top). Gently fold everything together with a rubber scraper. Then put it into your prepared casserole dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and reserved bacon.
Cover with the lid of the dish (or foil ~ spray the underside of the foil so the cheese doesn’t stick to it) . ** You can refrigerate at this point to bake later ~ but take it out of the refrigerator 10-15 minutes before putting into the oven ~ which gives you time to preheat the oven to 350. **
Bake for 20 minutes. Then remove lid/foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until cheese on top is melted and pasta is bubbly. Remove from oven and let it sit about 5 minutes before serving.
Serves about 3-4