This baked tortellini with spinach features just a handful of basic ingredients -- and you barely even need to measure! It's comfort food for a crowd yet easy enough for weeknights.
I can't say I've ever eaten or made a true casserole (pasta dishes filled that easy, use-up-what-you've-got space in my childhood), but this baked tortellini might be the closest I've come.
Ingredients I always have on hand, in quantities you barely even need to measure? Sign me up!
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- While classic baked pasta dishes like lasagna and baked ziti with meatballs are all-time favorites, they often have more going on in a lengthier ingredients list, additional steps, longer cooking time, etc. to bump them out of weeknight dinner contention. Baked tortellini, on the other hand, can be on the table in roughly 40 minutes.
- The ingredient quantities are so basic you hardly need to measure (and that means less dishes to wash). One large bag frozen tortellini, one large jar marinara sauce, one bag fresh spinach, an eyeballed amount of cheese, etc.
- The flavors. Tortellini, good marinara, a blend of Italian cheeses...pure Italian-American comfort food.
- Tortellini: I like to use frozen cheese tortellini for convenience, but other flavors and fresh tortellini work, too. For this quantity of ingredients, aim to end up with around two-and-a-half pounds of tortellini in total.
- Marinara: Homemade sauce is great, but using jarred marinara really leans into the ease and simplicity of this kind of recipe. Make sure you like how it tastes, as jarred sauces really run the gamut of excellent to blah.
- Spinach: There's no need to pre-cook fresh spinach as it wilts entirely as the tortellini bake cooks.
- Cook the tortellini to the lowest listed time on the package, then drain and add back to the pot. Pour in the marinara sauce and add the fresh spinach, stirring to combine everything. Continue to stir for a minute or two as the spinach starts to wilt.
- Pour out the tortellini mixture into a large baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Level off the top and cover evenly with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until the cheese melts fully. You can then switch the oven to broil (so long as your baking dish is broiler-friendly) for a minute or two to brown the cheese if you like.
- Baked tortellini will be hot hot right when it comes out of the oven, so let it sit for a short time so it's safe to eat. I recommend using this time to prep fresh basil for garnish. See how fast it is to slice thin strips of basil in this my how to chiffonade basil post!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- To avoid mushy pasta, boil the tortellini to the lowest list time on the package directions. Even for frozen tortellini, that will likely only be a couple of minutes.
- Use your favorite marinara sauce. Since there are so few ingredients in this baked tortellini, a bummer marinara can put a damper on the whole experience. My favorite is Rao's and I fill my cart Supermarket Sweep-style when I see the two-pack at Costco. If you find the marinara you have on hand to be lacking in flavor, doctor it up by adding additional seasonings as you see fit: salt, pepper, dried basil/oregano/parsley, crushed red pepper, and more.
- Shred your own cheese versus buying pre-shredded if you have ever had to deal with cheese not melting fully in a pasta bake. Pre-shredded has anti-caking agents added so the cheese doesn't all meld into a big clump while bagged, but they can inhibit meltiness.
- Be creative. There's a ton of wiggle room in this simple, five-ingredient recipe. Get fancy with the tortellini flavor (the refrigerated section has more fun ones than the freezer case), zhush up the sauce, add leftover cooked sausage or meatballs, etc.
- Cooking for two? Baked tortellini is easy to halve as they sell 19-ounce packages of frozen tortellini and 14-ounce jars of marinara sauce. If doing so, use an 8-inch by 8-inch square baking dish.
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Baked Tortellini with Spinach
- 38 ounces (1077g) fresh or frozen tortellini (just under 2 ½ pounds)
- 28 ounces (790g) marinara sauce (about 3 cups)
- 9 ounces (255g) fresh spinach leaves
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 ¼ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil chiffonade for serving
- Heat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a large and deep-sided rectangular baking dish with cooking spray and set aside for now. The dish pictured is 13" x 9" x 3".
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Once boiling, salt the water and stir in tortellini. Cook the tortellini according to package directions to the shortest time listed in the cook time range. For my frozen tortellini, this was only 2 minutes. Drain and add the tortellini back to the pot.
- Pour marinara sauce and fresh spinach into the pot and stir to evenly combine with the tortellini. Stir for 1-2 minutes as the spinach leaves begin to wilt, then pour out the mixture into the prepared pan. Press the surface into an even height throughout.
- Scatter Parmesan and mozzarella evenly over the surface, then place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. If you'd like the melted cheese to be a bit more toasty in places, at the end of the bake time switch the oven to broil for a very brief time until it has browned to your liking (provided your baking dish is broiler-safe).
- Serve with plenty of fresh basil to garnish.
- Tortellini: You'll often find frozen cheese tortellini, with the refrigerated section having a bigger variety of flavors. Anything works, just cook to the lowest listed time according to the package to avoid the tortellini becoming mushy.
- Marinara sauce: Use a jarred kind that you like, as it makes a difference in a simple dish like this. Some can really be lacking in flavor. If you're not thrilled with the flavor of yours, add additional dried spices and seasonings to it before adding to the recipe.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer