Cheesy Tortellini Bolognese

Hi fellow gluttons!

Not much has changed over here for us during Quarantime… Days are blending into one seamless Sunday afternoon, so the fact that today is actually legit Sunday completely blew my mind. I’m starting to ever so slightly lose my concept of what’s normal, so I got dressed up yesterday in JEANS aka actual pants just to feel like I had somewhere to go, which prompted my four year old to ask me, “Where are YOU going? On vacation?” Oh, I wish, honey.

Zoom has become our source for hangout-and-bitch sessions with friends and happy hour glasses of wine, and it’s great cuz there’s no dress code and everyone seems to also be losing it so sometimes the outfits get wild. I actually answer phone calls now just for fun, when before COVID the sound of my phone ringing made me want to chuck it in a river. House rules are bent or altogether broken, especially if it pertains to keeping the small child happy, so we acquiesce to cookies for breakfast now, and yes I understand that this will come to bite me in the ass later. I try to stay away from reading the news too much, as well as ignore other facts that aren’t helpful for my mental state ie. it’s another five months until September/the beginning of the school year, THANKS FOR THAT TIDBIT, FELLOW PARENTS. I’ve also become a “mom who crafts”, which is a sure sign of the apocalypse if I’ve ever seen one. We’re trying to make the best of things, and I’m trying in particular to appreciate the time I’ve got with my son before I have to go back to work whoknowswhen, even if it means watching Frozen 2 yet again or observing his latest interpretive dance routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, which I’m not sure I can keep hearing over and over, please make it stop.

I make jokes of course because all of this is to avoid my old twin pals Fear and Anxiety, who tend to creep up without warning, usually around 3am or even– surprise!– mid sunny afternoon. The whole world is hoping and praying that this is all over soon, but some of us very much more so than others. My thoughts often turn to those out there who have no choice but to show up to the front lines (close friends of ours included), or to those people dealing with extreme hardships or even just extreme loneliness during this time. I am anxiously grateful to feel safe and fed, and I hope that these silly posts can offer you some relief from your own anxieties, if only for a second. Tortellini helps, too.

I suppose I could use this lulled time at home to do something constructive and impressive like learning a new language or writing that bestselling tell-all, but I of course use my downtime to scour recipes and make delicious, comforting meals that I can then overeat. I came up with this tortellini bolognese cheesy goodness that is not in fact at all good for you, but it makes me so happy, I truly don’t give a shit. This bolognese recipe is great in lasagna too, or just over your favourite pasta (it also freezes well!), but mixing it with cheese tortellini and baking it with extra cheese just makes it even better. I did not make my own tortellini because I said I was bored, not insane, but if making fresh pasta is your thing, then knock yourself out. I also used ground beef here because I’ve always got some in my freezer, but feel free to sub in ground turkey or chicken. I’m going to try my hand at a tofu bolognese soon, because I’ve just discovered that you can make a “ground tofu” and it was actually a delight (apocalypse), and I’ll include that in a post in the near future. But in the interim, eat this deliciousness. Your family will love you, even when they’ve seen your damn face every day for weeks.




2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 lb extra lean ground beef or sirloin if you fancy

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup red wine

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 cup whole milk

3 cups chicken broth

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper


one package of cheese tortellini, your fave brand

3 cups of fresh spinach or kale, whatever you have on hand

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated


Make the sauce. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and once shimmering, add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Once the meat is mostly brown, add the chopped onion, carrot, and garlic to the pot and give it a good stir. Let the veggies cook for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan, letting the wine reduce for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook another minute. Then add the crushed tomatoes, broth, milk, the sugar, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Let it come up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, letting it cook for about 45 minutes, until the liquid is reduced to half. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper if needed.

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Cook the tortellini according to package directions with a pinch of salt added to your boiling water.

Stir the spinach into the bolognese sauce until it wilts. Stir the cooked tortellini into the meat sauce, and then transfer the whole thing to a casserole dish. Top with the grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and gooey and melted. Serve with some red pepper flakes on the side to adjust the heat levels to your liking. Garlic bread is pretty great on the side here, too, cuz hey. There’s lots of crazy shit happening right now. Spoil yourself.

SERVES 4 with leftovers


17 Comments Add yours

  1. I feel the same way and my wife is a saint!!! I have been working from home but I’m in our basement. My wonderful wife is the one dealing with home schooling and dealing with the kids while my only release is cooking. I have pulled out all the stops which has been appreciated, but Mom’s do not get the respect they deserve. This sounds delicious and I’m going to have to try this since tortellini is a family favorite. I may make my home made sauce instead but this looks delicious. The k you for continuing to post. I’ve loved you projects since Firefly and I love seeing the “human” side to you through these blog posts.

  2. Hang in there Jewel… It seems crazy, but keep in mind it only Seems Crazy… we’ll come out of it ok… Unfortunately for me, cooking means One Burner, on the side of my Bar-B-Que Grill. to me it’s too cold outside so I use the one burner inside long enough to make Mac N Cheese or Hangaberhelper… Hopefuly I’ll get a kitchen going soon and I can try your Delicious looking Bolognese… <: -) Have fun, Stay Strong, and KNOW the Light is on the way…

  3. clint b says:

    Pretty sure it’s only Saturday…
    But that looks aMAAAAzing and we will definitely give it a try. I think it would go nicely with the sourdough I baked today.

  4. Lilly says:

    Pssstt…it’s only Saturday when you posted this. 😉

    Otherwise, we are entertaining ourselves by using the laser pointer to entertain the cats. I’m sure it will wear off soon.

  5. Laina Nhim says:

    Weird, it’s still Saturday for me, here in California! You’re from the future! This recipe looks delish, maybe I’ll venture to try and make it 🙂

  6. Stuart says:

    Oh wow, that sounds deliciously indulgent! I wouldn’t have thought to put milk in a bolognese, but I will definitely be trying the chicken stock next time!
    Now to put tortellini on the shopping list!

  7. Caitlin Macy-Beckwith says:

    Well, I sure do love that we get to hear from you more often 💗 This dish sounds bonkers, as do all your recipes — and whaddaya know, I finally have time to cook again. Thank you as ever for sharing, lovely (and BIG hugs re: those mind gremlins. I’m shoving my own back into their hole on the daily).

  8. Jerry B. Bagley says:

    Ms. Staite, have enjoyed your blogs over the last few (?) years, but found this one especially entertaining, and timely…hope you don’t mind but shared it with my Face Book Friends. You and your family stay safe, and keep up the fun blog posts!

    Jerry B. Bagley
    California, where it is still late Saturday eve 🙂

    1. The Post came in about 6 hours ago, so it was still Saturday when she made the comment.. Now of course.. it is Sunday.. -grin- Hope all is safe where you are…

  9. John Thompson says:

    You are doing the world a service with these recipes! Your stories as well 😄. Thank you Jewel, keep them coming! No power in the… well you know 😉

  10. Mabel says:

    I am coming over for the last supper if it comes to that!

  11. Hello Pretty Lady, right there with about this all blurring into one long day off…if it wasn’t for the little one and myself doing online classes, there’d be no reason to really even bother trying to keep track… Been passing the time trying to stay busy in the kitchen which the wifey and baby girl love…until they see the dishes…

  12. Jim Edwards says:

    This about sums it up for us too. Comfort foods galore, and helping some of the new restaurants in the neighborhood with buying some take-out. I’m in an essential industry, so still working, but doing my best to social distance. And my band is shut down which probably the toughest part of all. That and not being able to get up to Kits to visit my son. Thanks for sharing.

  13. David Oldham says:

    Sounds really tasty.

  14. Mark McMullen says:

    Thank you 🙂

  15. Devin Froelicher says:

    Is it bad I found this website through a Firefly Reddit so I read the entire post in a Kaylee voice.

  16. Terry says:

    Great recipe, thanks for sharing and nice picture as well. I have found cooking for my family is a good thing, so keep it up.

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