Monday, October 8, 2012

Baked Leeky Tortellini

If you prefer, sub in a jar of your favorite pasta sauce. Marinara is an excellent choice. The combination of prepared foods and home cooking makes this a wonderfully satisfying weekday meal - with left overs to take to work for lunch!

Baked Leeky Tortellini
nutrition facts for 8 servings

What to assemble:

27 oz packages tortellini (I used three 9 oz spinach tortellini packs)
2 large leeks (or 3 medium)
2 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/4 t black pepper or to taste
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
45 oz canned or boxed chopped tomatoes (or fresh if it is tomato season)
1/4 cup red wine
2 T tomato paste
1 large handful fresh picked basil leaves
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 oz fresh Mozzarella

Add 1 cup peas to the boiling water with the toretllini
Add sliced mushrooms or spinach when sauteing the leek
1/4 cup cream mixed into the sauce before baking

How to prep:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Set out a large pan or casserole (9x12 works great) and spray with your favorite cookery spray, or line with foil and spray the foil. Set out a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the pan when it is cooking.

Clean and slice the leeks. The white and light green parts are to be used in the dish and the rest added to your compost bin. Rinse the root end of the leek to remove the external dirt. Slice the roots off the bulb, then cut off the dark green woody leaves. I like to remove the outer layer as I would an onion. This is easy to do if you make a thin slit in the layer. It then peels right off. Slice the leeks into thin ringlets. Add to a large bowl of cool water and separate the rings. Swish a bit, drain into a fine mesh colander. Return to the bowl with more cool water and rinse again. Repeat until all the dirt is removed. Drain well, lay in a tea towel and pat dry. Return to the dried bowl.

Set out the tortellini, measure the oil, mince the garlic, and open the container of tomatoes. Rinse and tear the basil leaves. They don't have to be small, just 2 or three pieces for each leaf. Dry in the tea towel and place in a bowl.

Measure the black and red pepper into a small bowl. Measure wine and set out tomato paste. Grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and make thin slices off the block of mozzarella.

The Cookery:

Do not over cheese, this is just right.
Turn the burner on to medium and bring the olive oil to a shimmer. Add the leek rings and saute for a couple minutes, lower the heat to medium low and continue to simmer about five minutes (or until softened). Stir every now and then. During the last two minutes, add the minced garlic, black, and red pepper.  Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Heat until the sauce is simmering. Add the basil.

Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. I've given you starter amounts. You may love more garlic. If so - add it! You might like it with a more peppery kick - add more crushed red pepper flakes! I do not salt. But if you need it, go ahead... just not too much, ok?

Once the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the tortellini and boil for just two minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the finished sauce and stir. Drain the tortellini and return them to the pasta pot. Mix the sauce with the tortellini  Pour into the baking pan and spread smooth. Dot with circles of mozzarella.

Tightly cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, raise the temperature to 425 F and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes - or until the cheese begins to brown a bit.

Remove from the oven and allow to set five minutes before serving.

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