There was a winter a few years ago where Chris and I had this after work ritual: we’d get home, make dinner, and watch Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee, which we’d record on the DVR everyday. I have no idea how or why we started watching that show, but we did and I totally delighted in the tablescapes and Cocktail Time and Sassy Sausage Grinders. One of the things we’d always yell at the TV when we were watching was, “This is not a recipe! This is assembly!” And it’s true. Buying an angel food cake, dumping apple pie filling in the middle, and sprinkling corn nuts around it is really not a recipe. It’s just buying things, putting them together, and sticking giant candles in them.
This Cheese Tortellini Bake is also just buying things and putting them together. I mean, there’s a little bit of cooking involved, but it’s mostly just assembly. And is that wrong? No, it’s not! Not every meal needs to be a big production and that, my friends, is why Sandra Lee is a genius. So maybe my own semi-homemade dinners have a little less condensed cream of mushroom soup and a lot less alcohol, but the overall concept is there. It’s a solid concept!
I rarely buy refrigerated tortellini and ravioli because the portions are so small, I’m usually still hungry after I’ve finished eating. So when I do buy them, I like to bulk up the meal with veggies, which help me feel full without adding many extra calories. I started this recipe with a good quality refrigerated tortellini (I used RP’s because they’re based out of Madison, where we used to live) and pasta sauce, then added oven-roasted broccoli and a little mozzarella cheese. Yes, it’s that easy! And with the time you save on dinner, you’ll have time to whip up a tablescape and cocktails.
To make the Cheese Tortellini Bake in mini-cocottes or ramekins, roast the broccoli on a baking sheet instead of in a baking dish, toss the ingredients together in a bowl, and divide them into the individual mini-cocottes. This makes 2 big servings, or you can get 4 smaller servings out of it and make them a meal by serving a salad on the side.
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