Ravioli Casserole…

Lately I found myself buying store bought food and doctoring it up. It’s a great way to get a quick meal on the table but with some fresh flavors you don’t often find in simple store bought food. This time I decided to take a package of chicken and mozzarella stuffed ravioli and create a casserole that was simply fabulous. I posted a couple of pictures online and got several requests to post the recipe. So here goes…

Lesson Learned 1 – Use a gourmet ravioli: Although the regular type ravioli (like Butoni) is fine, the type of ravioli I used was much bigger and more flavorful. I used a 9 ounce package of chicken and mozzarella stuffed ravioli that I bought at my local grocery store. 

Lesson Learned 2 – Don’t be afraid to experiment: I found a basic ravioli casserole recipe online and then added some additional agreements. Case in point, the recipe I used call for a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. I substituted a half cup of whole milk ricotta. The ricotta/cream cheese mixture turned out divine and much better, at least in my estimation, by using the ricotta instead of the cottage cheese. But if all you have on hand is cottage cheese, use it. I also added some Italian seasoning both to the ravioli mixture and then on top of the casserole. And I cooked up some sweet Italian sausage and added it to the marinara sauce. I also added the mozzarella slices on top and that created a great gooey consistency to the casserole. So go ahead, be brave. It is so worth it. 

Lesson Learned 3 – Grate your own parmesan: Again, if you can, buy parmesan by the brick and grate it in your food processor. The texture and flavor is so much better.

I was so pleased with how this turned out. I hope you try this recipe. I know you will love it.

Ravioli Casserole...

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, cooked 

1 28 oz. jar of marinara sauce

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta

4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/8 cup sour cream

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

2 Tbs. fresh flat leaf parsley

2 tsps. Italian seasoning, divided

1 Nine oz. package of gourmet ravioli

Packaged sliced mozzarella, 6 slices

1/3 cup grated parmesan

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a 3 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. In a medium size skillet, cook the Italian sausage. Drain the grease and add the marinara sauce. Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer.

While the marinara sauce is simmering combine the ricotta, cream cheese, sour cream, garlic powder, parsley and 1 tsp. of the Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Add the ravioli and gently toss it with the ricotta mixture until the ravioli is completely coated. 

Spread a small portion of the sausage and marinara sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish just to slightly coat it. Spread the ravioli mixture evenly into the dish. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the ravioli mixture. Place the slices of mozzarella on top of the marinara sauce. Sprinkle the remaining Italian seasoning and grated parmesan over the mozzarella. 

Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. (you may want to place the dish on a foil lined baking sheet to prevent any spills on the bottom of your oven). Uncover the casserole and bake for an additional 10 minutes. 

Remove the casserole from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread and butter. 

 

 

Ravioli Lasagna…

Ravioli Lasagna

My part-time job at Crate and Barrel requires me to work longer than normal hours over the holidays. No worries, I love the hustle and bustle of the holidays and there’s no better place to experience that than working retail. The challenge for me is how to plan dinners that don’t consist of take-out, pizza or soup and sandwiches. That menu faire gets boring rather quickly. I found one solution in a Costco cookbook – that’s right a Costco cookbook!

Ingredients

Ingredients

If you are a Costco shopper you know that every year they give away a pretty substantive cookbook. The recipes in the book are designed to use the products they sell, but all in all there are some pretty decent recipes included. Over the years they’ve even featured recipes by prominent celebrity chefs such as Ina Garten, Sandra Lee, Ree Drummond and Michael Symon. What I like about the cookbook is that every recipe has a picture of the finished product. I am not a big fan of recipe books that don’t have pictures. I need something visual to help me understand what I am trying to achieve. The books provide a myriad of recipes from appetizers, main courses, celebrity chef favorites, desserts and beverages. And the fact that it is free is just icing on the cake. They usually give the books away at holiday time, so be on the look out for them. This year they started giving them away on Black Friday and continued as long as quantities lasted. I made my husband make a special trip to get ours as every year I have been able to glean a couple of family favorites from each of them.

The recipe I’m going to share comes from a book they produced three years ago. The title of the book is always the same, “Creative Cooking the Costco Way,” and this recipe is called Baked Ravioli (Lasagna Style). I like this recipe because it is simple, it can be adapted in a variety of ways, and it’s one that can be made a day ahead so it’s perfect for those nights when you want something more for dinner without a lot of thought or effort. I’ve been making a version of this for over three years now so I’ve got this one down pat. Here is my rating and lessons learned:

Rating: A – a great go to recipe, can be adapted in a variety of ways, easy to prepare and definitely something your better half can start while you’re still at work (with my husband I write the directions on a post-it and put it on the door of the microwave so it’s there in plain view for him to see).

Lesson learned 1: Don’t be afraid to play with this recipe. You can basically use any type of ravioli you like. I first started out using Bertoli four cheese ravioli and then branched off into some of the more gourmet-type blends. The ravioli used in the pictures in this blog were half-moon mushroom and cheese ravioli, but you can use any kind you want. This time I also added some additional left over mushrooms that I partially sauteed as well as some partially cooked italian sausage that I crumbled, cooked and put in the layers. No need to cook your additional ingredients completely through as the dish will bake in the oven for at least an hour. Depending on the ingredients you use, this dish can also be meatless.

Before baking...

Before baking…

Lesson Learned 2: If you are making it the day before, make sure you take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit on your counter for at least an hour and a half before baking it. If you don’t it will take much longer to bake and will not cook evenly.

Lesson Learned 3: I like to make sure that my oven is not only preheated but at the desired temperature for at least 10-15 minutes. That way I feel I have a true temperature. My oven takes about 15 minutes to get to 400 so I usually plan on a preheat time of 25 minutes.

Lesson Learned 4: Don’t forget to use a little bit of cooking oil and sauce to cover the bottom of the pan before doing the layering. If you don’t you won’t be able to get the finished product cleanly out of the pan.

Lesson Learned 5: I like to make sure that the ravioli is positioned tightly together, even with a slight overlap. That way you have a nice firm layer when it’s cooked.

Lesson Learned 6: Make sure to tent the foil over the dish for at least the first 50 minutes of the cooking process. After that, remove the foil so that the cheese can become golden brown.

You can make this recipe as simple or as intricate as you want. All of the work goes in to putting it together. Once that is done it’s simply a matter of popping it in the oven, baking it and enjoying it. Serve this with some garlic bread and a salad and you’ve got a delicious and easy meal. Try this one – I guarantee you will use this as a go-to recipe just like I do!

Ravioli Lasagna...

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

THE INGREDIENTS:

Cooking oil (I use olive oil) – just enough to very lightly grease the bottom of your pan

1 – 29 ounce jar of a red sauce of your choice

1 large package of ravioli (again your choice, the ingredients and shape – square or half moon – do not matter)

Italian sausage or meatballs (again the amount your choice, depending on how much you want in the recipe. I normally take two sausage links, crumble and partially cook the meat, drain it on paper towels and then put it over the ravioli when I make the layers).

Other ingredients to taste – (I often add partially sauteed mushrooms or peppers. No need to cook them through, just give them a good start).

Mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano Cheeses

Italian seasoning

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the bottom of your pan (for the two of us I use an 8 inch square pan) and spread a layer of sauce over the bottom. (You don’t need a lot, just enough to lightly coat it). Put down a layer of ravioli flat side up on the sauce. Position the ravioli close together, even with a slight overlap. Add any additional ingredients you have prepared (I did mushrooms and italian sausage on this one). Put another layer of sauce on top and then add a layer of mozzarella, romano and parmesan. Sprinkle with italian seasoning and pat the layer down lightly. Repeat the layering. Pat down again and cover with tented aluminum foil. (If you are making ahead, just cover with foil and put in the refrigerator. Just don’t forget to tent the foil before putting it in the oven as you don’t want all the cheese to stick to the foil).

Bake for one hour or until completely heated through. For the last 10 minutes of the baking process, remove the foil so that the cheese can brown. Let stand for five minutes before serving.

Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli Lasagna