Love Olive Garden tortellini al forno? Just wait until you try this recipe for our rich, home-cooked version. Perfect comfort food!
Our copycat tortellini al forno recipe is an easy to make comfort food your family will love! Easy to make and perfect for a weeknight dinner!
“What is al forno?” you may ask. Well, al forno is an Italian phrase. It literally translates to “baked,” or “in the oven.”
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Strangely, the recipe changed over time, consequently, the tortellini al forno meaning has changed with it. It’s commonly served right from the stovetop. You won’t need an oven to make tortellini al forno.
Preparing the tortellini for this recipe is simple, just prepare the pasta as the package directions direct. Be sure to strain your pasta well. Leaving water in your pans is the quickest way to ruin a perfectly good pasta dish. Your sauce will thin, and your pasta will become soggy.
It’s up to you, but I also like to add a bit of salt and olive oil to the boiling water before cooking my pasta. The salt will increase the boiling point of the water, so the water will actually be hotter when you add the pasta. Olive oil will add flavor, but it will also keep your pasta from sticking.
Timing is everything when preparing a pasta dish. Tortellini doesn’t take long to cook. Depending on the brand you buy, it’ll only take between 5 and 10 minutes from the time you drop your pasta to the time you’re straining it.
For the best results, boil your water while you gather and prepare your ingredients.
I’ve found that chopping the bacon takes longer than any other prep for this recipe. It’s slippery and those little strips can get away from you. I start with the bacon, then move on to the other ingredients.
If you’re grating your own cheese, save that for last. The high kitchen temperatures may cause it to stick together.
One of the best parts of home cooking is the flexibility you’ll have to choose your own ingredients. As you know, there are dozens of tortellini products on the market. I always use cheese tortellini for this recipe. The cheese in the pasta blends well with the mozzarella and the parmesan in the al forno sauce.
But we home cooks love to experiment, right? Why not try mushroom tortellini? Paired with the bacon and the parsley, mushrooms would be a treat. There are also veggie tortellini you may like to try. Spinach would be great! Cheese and roasted garlic tortellini would pair well, too.
Once your water is boiling and your ingredients are in place, it’s time to start cooking. Begin with the bacon, as you’ll need to reserve some of the drippings for use later in the al forno recipe. Keep your cheese refrigerated until the last minute. Again, you don’t want it to stick, as this will make your sauce lumpy.
Have everything ready to go, and you’ll be rewarded with a dish worthy of a rave tortellini al forno Olive Garden review!
Recipe Notes for Tortellini Al Forno:
Lean vs. fatty bacon – We’ve all got a favorite brand of bacon. Some like it fatty while others prefer the leaner cuts. I’ve found that those leaner cuts work best in this tortellini al forno recipe.
Buying a fatty cut of bacon will mean that more of the product will burn off. You only need a couple tablespoons of drippings for the recipe, so it’s better to opt for the leaner, crispier cuts.
Can’t find them in the grocery store? Just ask the butcher. Many grocery stores have a butcher on site. He’ll be happy to cut your meat just the way you like it. Usually, this doesn’t cost any more than what you’ll find at the meat counter.
No more clumpy sauce – When I first learned to cook, I picked up an important tip: making gravy is a bear if you don’t do it right. Making turkey or chicken gravy, for example, can result in a powdery and clumpy mess of flour if not done properly.
When you prepare this tortellini al Forno recipe, you’re essentially making “bacon gravy.” You’ll whisk flour in with your bacon drippings, your gravy will be very lumpy.
Be sure to add your flour to your bacon drippings gradually. Pouring all the flour in at once will create huge lumps. Be sure the drippings are hot, but not spattering. Then use a tablespoon or even a teaspoon to add the flour, whisking as you go. Don’t add the milk until your flour is fully incorporated into your drippings.
A note on cheese – If you can manage it, I strongly recommend you use fresh cheese. Many times, manufacturers will add fillers to the pre-packaged cheese, and this can impact the texture and the quality of your al forno sauce.
Larger stores like Harris Teeter and Kroger have blocks of cheese in the deli department. You can choose from a variety of brands. I don’t recommend low-fat cheese for two reasons. First, they’ll change the consistency of your sauce. Second, they’re often packed with salt, and the flavor of your dish will change.
Tortellini Al Forno
- 1 Package Cheese Filled Tortellini
- 6 Slices Bacon Chopped
- 1 Large Clove Garlic
- 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- 1 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 Cup Mozzarella Shredded
- 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley Chopped
- Prepare tortellini according to package instructions. Drain and rinse.
- Meanwhile, cook chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
- Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings from skillet. Add garlic and cook in remaining dripping on low for about 1 minute. Sprinkle flour in the skillet and whisk until combined with drippings. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil. Add salt, black pepper, and dried Italian seasoning, lower the heat and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add mozzarella and Parmesan and heat until melted. Toss cooked tortellini and bacon in sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
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- Portillo’s Chopped Salad– Our copycat recipe of Portillo’s Chopped Salad is LOADED with lotsa chicken, pasta, bacon, and blue cheese then dressed in a sweet Italian dressing! YUM!!
- Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno– Our recipe for Olive Garden Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno is a delicious version of this wonderful meal. Uber Cheesy, warm and comforting – truly delightful!
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- Italian Stuffed Peppers– have a meaty stuffing bursting with classic Italian flavors, marinara sauce, and cheese all packaged up in a sweet bell pepper!