Cheesy Baked Tortellini with Meat Sauce

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There’s this little Italian restaurant in Winnipeg that I’ve been craving lately. My sister and brother-in-law first introduced me to the magic of Paradise a few years ago, and I’ve gone a few of times since, each time not believing that better Italian food could exist in the world (although I haven’t actually been to Italy, so don’t quote me). It’s a little unassuming, a bit of a hole-in-the-wall if you will, and the décor is hideous, but the food? I could never begin to describe how phenomenal it is.

Everything is scratch made. Unlimited puffy breadsticks melting with garlic butter, homemade pasta and pizza, and from-scratch sauces that taste like your Grandma made them. Everything I’ve ever tried has been fantastic. Most recently, I went with my sisters and we gorged ourselves as usual. Caitlin and I got the Gnocchi with Cream Sauce which we loved, but Tia got the Baked Tortellini and I was instantly jealous of it, even though my Gnocchi was the best I’d ever had. That’s saying something.

Since then, I couldn’t get rid of my tortellini craving, and this dish was born from that for dinner last week. Sure, the tortellini isn’t homemade and my sauce didn’t simmer for hours but it’ll definitely get me through until my next visit to Paradise. Next time, I’m making breadsticks too. It just wasn’t the same without them.

 

Cheesy Baked Tortellini with Meat Sauce

Serves 8 generously

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 3 tsp. garlic salt
  • ½ tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 5 dashes hot sauce
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups milk
  • 1 kg. fresh cheese filled tortellini
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Parsley for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet fry the beef until cooked and crumbled. Drain grease if necessary and add back into skillet. Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic, spices, hot sauce and milk to the skillet with the meat. Stir together and taste the meat sauce, adding more salt or hot sauce if you wish. Add the tortellini to the sauce and stir to coat. You can add extra milk to thin out the sauce further if desired. You want to the tortellini to be saucy so it cooks fully in the oven.

Spread half the tortellini/meat sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle half the mozzarella and parmesan over that. Then add the rest of the tortellini and spread it out evenly, sprinkling with the remaining cheese and parsley. Cover the pan with tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until cheese is melted, dish is bubbly and tortellini are cooked all the way through. Serve!

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