If you’re a foodie who loves comfort food, then you’ll love this creamy pesto tortellini bake with mozzarella. It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, it's full of pesto, and it’s super hearty. Let us easily walk you through a few steps to make this delicious pasta bake that will be a new favorite for the cold months.
This creamy, cheesy pesto tortellini bake is made with cheese tortellini, mozzarella cheese, pesto, fresh minced garlic, heavy cream, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and fresh spinach.
Reasons you’ll love this recipe
- COMFORTING & HEARTY: You know those cooler months, like during fall and winter, when you just want something warm, cozy, and filling for dinner? Well, similar to our popular mac and cheese bake with bacon recipe, that’s exactly what this pesto tortellini alfredo bake is!
- PERFECT FOR SHARING: This pesto baked pasta recipe makes a large portion of pasta and is perfect to make for dinner parties and share with your guests. If you aren’t planning to have anyone over, you can plan on having an easy lunch or dinner the next day with the leftovers!
- EASY: This recipe is easier than you think. It uses less than 10 ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store, and the sauce comes together in less than 5 minutes. Once everything is mixed together, you just pop it in the oven, and you’re done!
- CHEESE TORTELLINI: This recipe uses frozen cheese tortellini, but there are a ton of tortellini versions, such as beef, prosciutto and cheese, rainbow tortellini, and more, so pick whichever you like and go with that!
- OLIVE OIL: Olive oil is used to sautee the fresh garlic.
- FRESH GARLIC: Fresh minced garlic is used in this recipe to add a more garlicky flavor. Garlic is generally used in pesto, but the addition of minced garlic elevates the flavors even more!
- PESTO: Pesto can be made at home or easily found by many brands at the grocery store. This baked tortellini pesto bake recipe uses store-bought pesto to keep things easy, but if you’re feeling creative, you can try making it yourself!
- HEAVY CREAM: Heavy cream is used to make this baked pesto tortellini extra creamy, and mixed with the pesto becomes a beautiful light green color.
- FRESH SPINACH: If you’re not a huge fan of spinach, don’t worry; you can’t taste it! Spinach is used in this recipe simply to add more green colour to the dish and make it look pretty! You can typically find fresh spinach in the produce section of you’re grocery store in a bag or by the bushel.
- MOZZARELLA CHEESE: Mozzarella cheese is shredded and sprinkled over the pesto baked tortellini alfredo dish, making it super cheesy and delicious.
- PARMESAN CHEESE: Freshly grated parmesan cheese is sprinkled over the baked tortellini dish to add extra saltiness, flavor, and cheesiness. If you prefer to use pre-shredded parmesan, that works too!
- BLACK PEPPER: Cracked black pepper is a nice garnish that adds a little bite to the creamy pasta bake.
See the recipe card below for the ingredient measurements.
- LARGE POT: For cooking the tortellini pasta noodles.
- SMALL POT: For making the creamy pesto pasta sauce.
- KNIFE: For mincing the garlic.
- CUTTING BOARD: For chopping the garlic and protecting your countertops.
- CHEESE GRATER: For shredding the cheese.
- RECTANGLE BAKING DISH: A greased 9x13 baking dish is all you need for baking the pesto tortellini bake.
- MEASURING SPOONS AND CUPS: For measuring the ingredients.
- Prepare: Preheat the oven to 425° F. Grease a 9x13 rectangular baking dish and set it aside.
- Pasta: In a large pot filled with water, cook the tortellini per the instructions on the package. If there is a range for timing, cook it for the lesser amount, or cook it for 2 minutes less than specified. Before draining the pasta, reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta back to the large pot away from the heat.
- Sauce: In a small pot, add the olive oil and minced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. Add the pesto and heavy cream and bring the sauce to a boil on high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved pasta water and simmer on low for 1 more minute. Remove it from the heat and stir in the spinach.
- Bake: Pour the sauce over the cooked tortellini and mix it until fully incorporated. Transfer the pasta to the baking dish, and evenly sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top. Bake the pasta for 10-15 minutes until the cheese begins to get bubbly and melt.
- Serve: Sprinkle the black pepper and parmesan over the pasta bake, and wait 10 minutes before serving to give the sauce time to thicken.
- Cook the pasta for less time. The pasta is going to be cooked twice in this recipe; first, it's boiled, then baked. To ensure it's not overcooked, you should aim to boil the pasta for a couple of minutes less than specified on the package. If there's a suggested time range for cooking it, choose to cook it for the lesser amount because it still needs to cook while it bakes.
- Remove the pasta from the heat. Once you boil and drain the pasta and put it back into the same pot you boiled it in, you should remove it from the burner you originally cooked it on to avoid the pasta from continuing to cook or sticking to the pot.
- Frozen or fresh tortellini works. You can use either frozen or fresh tortellini in this pasta bake. You just need to follow the instructions on the package and boil it for slightly less than specified to ensure it doesn’t overcook when you bake it.
- Give the pasta bake time to rest. To avoid a runny pasta bake, give it at least 10 minutes to rest before cutting into it. The resting period will give the sauce time to thicken and make it easier to cut into.
You can reheat pasta in the microwave at 1-minute intervals until it's hot enough, or pop the leftover baking dish in the oven at 375° F for about 10-15 minutes.
It is possible to overcook pasta bake, so the approach should be to slightly undercook the pasta before you bake it (when you pre-boil it) that way, it’ll finish cooking while it’s baking.
No, you should slightly undercook it before baking the pasta so it doesn’t overcook.
Since you precook it (boiling it first), it doesn’t need too much time in the oven to cook. It takes about 15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to get bubbly and the cheese is melted.
To reheat the pasta the next day, bake it in the oven at 375° F for 10-15 minutes or until warm enough.
After baking the pasta bake, you should give it some time to rest before cutting into it. This will give the pasta time to soak up and thicken the sauce.
There are lots of options to serve with pasta as a side dish. Some of the most common would be a fresh loaf of bread or a fresh salad.
You can store the room temperature leftover pasta bake in an airtight container or in the baking dish covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Chicken: If you’re looking to add some protein to this pesto tortellini casserole, chicken is a great option and pairs very well with the pesto and cheese in the dish. It can be fried, roasted, or grilled and mixed in with the boiled pasta and sauce prior to baking it in the oven.
- Feta: Consider adding some crumbled feta to the pasta mixture or sprinkling on top of the pasta bake prior to baking it for some tanginess and extra saltiness.
- Zucchini: Roasted or sauteed zucchini would be a delicious addition that would add a layer of freshness, sweetness, and smoky flavor to the pasta bake.
The alternative ingredients are just suggestions and have not been tested.Print