Crispy Tortellini, Chicken and Lemon Pasta Bake..with a Vegetarian alternative..


I have a weird relationship with Tortellini (and filled pasta in general)  – I know I should like them, because I love all things pasta-related,  but I often find them a bit .. slimy, and so easily over-cooked.

Is it just me? Yes? Oh, ok then…

Slimy and often over-cooked (my fault, I understand that now..) Anyway, I decided to see how I could fix it. I wanted a pasta bake that was unusual, easy and above all tasty, and after a few trials I’m proud to offer up my latest creation. I think this will double up really well for feeding a crowd, either for the family or as part of a party buffet. The recipe below feeds 4-6 generously.

There are a few ‘bits’ to this recipe, but the more often you make it, the easier it becomes, as you can do a couple of things at once. Also, nothing needs to be kept warm, as it gets a good roasting before serving.

** For a Vegetarian option, see the NOTES at the bottom** I made this for our favourite Vegetarian friend last week, and we ALL had two helpings!!

Andiamo.. although it’s only very loosely Italian – right?

For 4-6 people, as a main course:


  • A small saucepan
  • A medium saucepan
  • Medium sized bowl
  • a frying pan
  • whisk, wooden spoon
  • lasagne dish, or similar.

INGREDIENTS: This will feed 4-6 people.

  • 1-2 packets of good quality ready-made tortellini, or other filled pasta. About 500g.
  • 500g of skinless, boneless chicken thighs.
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1-2 medium red onions, cut into slivers
  • sprinkle of red chilli flakes (not too much)
  • Vegetable oil (I used local rapeseed oil)
  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 250mls  milk
  • 250-350mls hot chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • small glass of white wine (optional)
  • frozen peas – about 50g – see NOTES
  • breadcrumbs, about 3-4 tablespoonfuls
  • 50g grated cheese (cheddar or Parmesan, or whatever you like)



Start by marinating the chicken:

  • Cut off any sinew and fat from the chicken thighs, and cut each one into 3-4 strips.
  • Marinate the Chicken, some chopped parsley, the chilli flakes, a dessertspoon of oil, half the lemon juice and the crushed garlic while you prep the red onions.
  • Heat the medium saucepan, add the chicken mixture, and stir to get it coloured.
  • Add the wine and let it reduce a little.
  • Add the red onion and mix in well.
  • Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer gently while you get on with the rest.

Deal with the filled Pasta:

  • Gently separate the pasta shapes (I find they tend to stick together)
  • Put them into the bowl, then add enough boiling water to cover them.
  • Time them for exactly 4 minutes, then drain them well.
  • Heat the frying pan to a med-hot heat, and spray with cooking oil.
  • When it’s hot, add the pasta in a single layer. If you’re feeding a crowd, you may need to do this in two batches.


  • Give them 5-8 minutes, then turn them over to crisp up the other side – Weird eh? Crispy pasta, who ever heard of that?  :)


  • Drain the crisped up pasta on some kitchen paper. They don’t need to be kept warm.

Making the sauce:

  • melt the butter in the smallest saucepan .
  • Add the flour and cook for only about 30 seconds.
  • Remove from the heat and gradually mix in the milk until blended, then add 250mls of the stock and return it to the hob.
  • Cook gently over a medium heat, stirring continuously, until it starts to thicken.
  • See if you need to add the rest of the stock – the sauce should be the thickness of double cream.
  • Add half the lemon zest and the rest of the lemon juice and mix in.
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust as required.


Putting it all together: I think it’s best not to put it together until you’re ready to cook it, but you can certainly have all the bits ready to go.

  • Heat the oven to 170 fan, or equivalent.
  • Put the pasta into a lightly oiled lasagne dish in a single layer.
  • Add the chicken mixture to the sauce and mix through.
  • Pour the sauce over the crispy pasta.
  • Pour over the frozen petit-pois.
  • Mix the bread crumbs with the cheese and the last of the lemon zest, and sprinkle over generously.
  • Give it 30 minutes or so in the oven until the breadcrumbs are crispy and the sauce is bubbling at the sides of the dish.
  • Serve, sprinkled with chopped parsley or fresh basil, with a big green salad, and some garlicky bread,



  • I’ve used Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Spinach and Lemon Ricotta Tortellini, and on another occasion Dunnes Stores ‘Simply Better’ Buffalo Mozzarella and Spinach Ravioli. Both are good.
  • We decided that garlic bread was a bit excessive, but it’s good for mopping up the sauce. However,  we opted for a Green salad the last time we had it, and it worked really well.
  • I really like the crispy pasta, it gives a bit of contrast to the creamy sauce and the tender chicken.
  • For the Veggie option, I simply replaced the chicken with Oven-roasted Butternut Squash. Just peel the squash, and cut it into chunks, toss in a bowl with some Rapeseed oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven on a shallow baking tray for 15-20 minutes until the edges start to singe, and the squash is fairly tender. I also added the frozen petit-pois just before the final cooking.

Vegetarian Pasta Bake (4)

Vegetarian Pasta Bake (2)










  • Cauliflower florets, roasted for about 10 minutes in a med-hot oven are also a good vegetarian option. The tortellini are a veggie option anyway. Don’t forget to replace the Chicken stock with vegetable stock.
  • Of course you can add extra vegetables if you have them, even to the Chicken version of this dish  – roasted, sliced red peppers; softened Leeks; sweetcorn kernels..
Vegetarian Pasta Bake (1)

Oh yum! This is so good!


I started writing down recipes in an old copybook when I was about 16. With 6 children at home, my Mother was always glad of a hand in the kitchen, and really allowed us to experiment - as long as we washed up afterwards, and left the kitchen immaculate! Having a tidy kitchen has followed me through my life, as has the habit of writing down my favourite recipes; except that these days I write them for my website, and add photographs when I can. The website really started when it occurred to me that my daughter might like to have these recipes when I've forgotten them. In my early days of cooking for family and friends, I used to phone my Mum all the time to ask her for the recipe for some of our favourite family dinners. She rarely had a recipe to hand - I think, like me, she made a lot of it up as she went along.. So welcome to Eating for Ireland - these are the recipes that my friends and family having been eating these past 40 years.. yes, I truly am ancient! They are tried and tested, and have worked for me for all that time - I have updated them as new ingredients became available - I really hope you'll find something that you can make into a family favourite of your own. You don't have to tell anyone where you found these great new dishes that you're serving up - it can be our little secret, but I'd really love it if you could give me a sneaky 'follow' on Facebook and Instagram.. So off you go - have a good rummage around, you're bound to find something new! My sincere thanks to all of you who have found a recipe that you liked and dropped me a line to tell me - I really do love to hear from you! Happy Cooking! Becks xx

Posted in