January 27, 2013

Week 61, Recipe 3: Make-ahead Sausage & Cheese Ravioli Bake

Photo by Taste of Home
  • I currently work on Wednesdays and Fridays so am always looking for make-ahead recipes for those two days. I assembled this easy casserole on a Tuesday evening in about 15 minutes then froze. On Wednesday morning before I left for work, I put the frozen casserole into the oven and set the timer for it to cook and be ready at 5:15 when my husband comes home with the kids. We'll be making this again, it was so easy and good.
  • Next time I'll probably add a package of frozen spinach, cooked & drained to get some more veggies.
  • I'm labeling this post both as "Pork" and "Vegetarian" because you can easily leave out the sausage and still have a delicious entree. Add spinach, sauteed mushrooms, etc. if desired.
  • Recipe modified from Taste of Home
  • Like all freezer recipes, while you're at it double the recipe and make two of these so you'll have one to freeze and pull out later! You'll be glad you did on that busy weeknight a month from now.
  • 1 25 oz. package frozen cheese ravioli
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (breakfast or spicy)
  • 1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten  
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 jars spaghetti sauce (look for one with low sugar - bottles sauces tend to add unnecessary sugar!)
  • 2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
  • See my "NOTES" above about adding frozen spinach, sauteed mushroom, etc. if desired
  1. Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink; drain (see my TIP below recipe for cooking sausage).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, basil and seasoning.
  3. Cook ravioli according to package directions then drain.
  4. Spoon about 1 1/3 c. spaghetti sauce into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch casserole dish. Layer with half of the ravioli and sausage. Spoon all of the ricotta mixture over sausage and top with 1 1/3 c. sauce. Layer with remaining ravioli and sausage. Spread remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
When I cook sausage, I like to cook it for a few minutes in a little oil (or spray pan with spray oil) while breaking it up with a flat wooden spoon. Then I add about 1/3 c. water to the hot skillet and get that water simmering, while continuing to break up sausage. The water helps cook the inside of the sausage before the edges get too brown. Once the water has evaporated, let the sausage cook a bit longer to get the edges just slightly browned. This works well for crumbled sausage as well as sausage links.

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