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Baked Tortellini: A Hearty and Easy Weeknight Dinner

When it comes to comforting, hearty meals that are easy to prepare and sure to please everyone at the table, baked tortellini tops the list. This dish combines tender cheese-filled tortellini with a rich, savory sauce made from ground beef, Italian spices, marinara, and creamy, tangy cream cheese. Topped with a generous layer of mozzarella and Parmesan, and baked to bubbly, golden perfection, it's a dish that will have everyone asking for seconds. Here's how to make this delightful meal.


Ingredients:

- 1 lb ground beef

- 1 tsp Italian seasoning

- 1 jar (24 oz) marinara sauce

- 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

- 1 package (20 oz) cheese tortellini, cooked and drained

- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

- Fresh basil for garnish (optional)

- 2 tbsp butter (for greasing the baking dish)


Instructions:


1. Preheat Your Oven:

   - Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).


2. Prepare the Baking Dish:

   - Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish thoroughly and set aside.


3. Cook the Ground Beef:

   - In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until it’s browned and cooked through. Drain any excess fat.

   - Add the Italian seasoning to the beef and stir well.


4. Make the Sauce:

   - Pour the jar of marinara sauce into the skillet with the ground beef and stir to combine.

   - Cut the block of cream cheese into smaller pieces and add it to the sauce. Stir continuously until the cream cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth and creamy.


5. Combine with Tortellini:

   - Add the cooked and drained tortellini to the skillet. Stir gently to coat the tortellini evenly with the sauce.


6. Assemble the Dish:

   - Transfer the tortellini and sauce mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly.

   - Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the top, followed by the grated Parmesan.


7. Bake:

   - Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the top is golden brown.


8. Garnish and Serve:

   - Once baked, remove the dish from the oven. Let it cool slightly before serving.

   - Garnish with fresh basil if desired, for a pop of color and added flavor.


Tips for a Perfect Baked Tortellini:


- Cooking the Tortellini: Make sure to cook the tortellini just until al dente, as it will continue to cook in the oven.

- Cream Cheese: For easier mixing, make sure the cream cheese is softened before adding it to the sauce.

- Adding Vegetables: Feel free to mix in some sautéed spinach, mushrooms, or bell peppers for extra nutrients and flavor.

- Fresh Herbs: If you have fresh herbs like basil or parsley, add them just before serving for a burst of freshness.


This baked tortellini dish is perfect for busy weeknights, family gatherings, or when you need a comforting meal that's simple to prepare. The combination of flavors and textures makes it a hit every time. Enjoy this delightful dish with a simple green salad and a side of garlic bread for a complete and satisfying meal. Buon appetito!

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