Cheesy Meatball & Tortellini al Forno

Cheesy Meatball and Tortellini al Forno

Ingredients:

  • 1-16oz Package of Frozen Meatballs (Turkey, Pork, Beef or Homemade. I used Turkey)
  • 1-16oz Package of Frozen Tortellini (Any kind-I used Cheese)
  • 1-16oz Package of Frozen Spinach
  • 1-16oz Jar of Sauce (Any brand & flavor or homemade-I used Roasted Garlic Flavor)
  • 1-16oz Package of Italian Shredded Three Cheese blend
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmigiana Reggiano Cheese (or more if you’re cheesy like me)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt & Pepper

(Optional filling ideas: Ricotta Cheese, Mushrooms)

Directions:

In a large pot heat salted water to a boil and preheat oven to 450.

In a 13 by 9 rectangular baking dish pour a teaspoon or two of the olive oil. I used the standard Pyrex dish that my Mom used my entire life. Then, with clean fingers (obvi), work the oil over every part of the inside surface of the dish. Trust me – don’t skip this step. If you do, it will be Harry-Carey trying to dish out portions once it’s done. It will stick like crazy. If you haven’t done this before, you’ll find yourself doing it with every baked dish you make. You’re welcome. 🙂

In another pot, pour a tablespoon or two of the olive oil, then dump in the frozen meatballs and sauce of your choice and heat the balls in the sauce as per package directions until fully thawed as you’re preparing the rest (mine took about 20 minutes). Word of caution: be careful with the flame. Depending on what size pot you use, it will be difficult to stir the balls around every few minutes for even heating. I used a lower flame setting. The water needs time to boil anyway, plus it is going in the oven. Slow and Steady wins the race.

In a microwavable bowl, cook spinach according to the package directions, but add only a couple tablespoons of water. Once the spinach is done, drop it into a colander/strainer and press out as much water as you can with the back of a spoon (or use the towel method) and sprinkle spinach with garlic powder to taste and reserve to a big bowl. You can also use fresh chopped garlic if you like, but be careful with the powdered stuff. I love garlic, but the powered can give you undesired results. Think hours of agita, burping it up.

Once the balls are thawed in the sauce, add to the big bowl of spinch and combined carefully and reserve. You don’t want to breakka da balls!

Drop the tortellini into the salted boiling water. Cook only until half the recommended package directions (those suckers cook quickly). They will finish in the oven. If you skip this step, the tortellini will be tré mushéy.

Once the tortellini is halfway done, strain them in the colander/strainer and run a little cold water over them just to take the edge off. Just a little! Not too much, you still want them hot. Then pour them into the oiled 13 by 9 baking dish and drop a couple handfuls of the shredded cheese and Parmigiana Reggiano in with them and gently combine without smashing too much of the tortellini. Some will evidently break, but eh! It’s a rustic dish! You just want all the tortellini to be friendly with the cheese–not a massacre.

Now here’s the tricky part. Combine the reserved balls, sauce and spinach together, then carefully and artfully pour them into the 13 by 9 baking dish with the cheesed up tortellini. Gently play around with it until it looks pretty & evenly distributed, then top the entire dish with the rest of the shredded cheese and Parmigiana Reggiano.

Bake for about 15 minutes until it’s bubbly and the cheese is browned to your liking. I like mine a little brown without obliterating the cheese. I love the ooey-gooey display of yumminess while your dishing it out. (Cool 10-15 minutes before serving TRUST ME)

My Secret Tip:

Once you pull the cheesy bake out of the oven, lightly salt it, pepper it and DRIZZLE a little extra virgin olive oil over the top. This will make it LOOK pretty, yet adding another layer of flavor & aroma with the added purpose of keeping it moist.

Hope you enjoy!

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