A Quick Casserole When You Crave Lasagna
Do you ever get a craving for lasagna, and start thinking of the different ingredients you’ll need, but stop when you remember that it will take close to two hours to make and you want something sooner rather than later?
This cheesy tortellini casserole is for those moments. It’s a bit like a baked lasagna—with pasta, cheese, tomato sauce—but a lot easier to put together.
The Secret is Frozen Cheese Tortellini
Of course, the reason it’s so easy to assemble is that you are starting with already made cheese-filled tortellini, which can usually be found in the frozen food section of your grocery store (if not, frozen ravioli would also work).
You can also use boxed tortellini or even fresh tortellini; cook it according to the package instructions until just al dente before assembling the casserole.
A Simple, Adaptable Casserole
As you boil the water for the tortellini, you make the sauce. Then toss the cooked tortellini with the sauce, put in a casserole dish, cover with Mozzarella and bake until bubbly. That’s it!
In this version we are including chopped cremini mushrooms because they taste great, and chopped chard for a healthy green. You could use spinach instead of the chard, or skip it all together.
Or you could use sausage instead of the mushrooms for a meat-based approach. This hearty vegetarian casserole is perfect for a Meatless Monday meal.
How to Store and Reheat
This casserole will keep in the fridge for about five days. Reheat individual portions in the microwave, or reheat the whole casserole in a warm oven until warmed through.
More Cheesy Pasta Casseroles:
Cheesy Tortellini Casserole Recipe
- 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) prepared frozen cheese tortellini
- 12 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, roughly chopped or sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 2 cups), OR 2 cups fresh chopped spinach, OR 1/2 cup frozen spinach
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 to 6 ounces Mozzarella cheese slices, enough to cover the surface of the casserole
1 Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
2 Boil the tortellini: Heat a large pot with 3 quarts of water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt on high heat. When the water starts to boil, add the tortellini. Once the water returns to a boil, cook for an additional 2 minutes, until al dente.
You want the pasta cooked al dente because it will continue to cook when baked in the casserole. Remove from heat and drain. Set aside.
3 Sauté the mushrooms: While you are preparing the pasta, start on the sauce. Heat a large thick bottomed stick-free (hard anodized aluminum or cast iron are best) pan on medium heat.
Add the mushrooms. "Dry" sauté them for 5 to 10 minutes with no added fat. As the mushrooms heat they will release water and cook in their own juices.
Once the mushrooms are well coated with the water that they are releasing, stir in a tablespoon of butter.
4 Finish the sauce: Add the garlic, crushed fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes to the mushrooms and cook a minute more.
Add the crushed tomatoes and the dried or fresh basil. Increase the heat to bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the chopped chard and cook for 5 more minutes until the chard begins to wilt.
Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more or less to taste).
5 Assemble the casserole: Stir the cooked tortellini into the sauce and remove from heat. Spread the tortellini mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish in an even layer. Arrange a layer of sliced Mozzarella cheese over the top of the tortellini.
5 Bake: Cover with foil. (Either cover the casserole in a way that the foil is not touching the cheese or spread a little olive oil over the inside of the foil so that the casserole cheese does not stick to the foil while it cooks. You can also use stick-free foil.)
Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. Remove foil and broil for 4 to 5 minutes more until top is lightly browned and bubbly.
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