Baked Ravioli with Spinach

March 20, 2014

I have come to the conclusion that March is the month for confusion.  Weather confusion that is.  Mother Nature can’t seem to decide whether she wants to switch over to Spring or keep prolonging the Winter.  Our recent days in North Carolina dramatically change from sunny, beautiful, and 70 degrees to down-pouring rain, sleet, and 35 degrees in a matter of 24 hours.

Much to my dismay, the South remains cold for a little while longer.  When the weather is icy, I respond with comfort food… usually something Italian-inspired and something with pasta.

Baked Ravioli with Spinach from Simplified Feast 1

Last night for dinner I chose a recipe for Baked Ravioli.  Although, the original recipe seemed delightful on it’s own, I decided to amp up the flavor and fancy with a few simple additions.  I began by sauteing diced pancetta, onion, and garlic with a bit of olive oil.  If you’d like more of a smoky flavor, bacon can definitely be used as a sub for pancetta.

This dish can easily be thrown together for a busy weeknight dinner.  It’ll be on the table in 30 minutes and the whole family will SWOON.

Baked Ravioli with Spinach from Simplified Feast 2

Next, pour a 24 oz. jar of tomato sauce over the pancetta.  Use whatever brand you like or whatever is on sale, like I did… It’s real life people!  Anything rich and tomato-y will suffice.

You’ll then add a few extra dried herbs; thyme, parsley, and oregano.  Don’t forget a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

Meanwhile, have a large pot of salted, boiling water on the stove.  You’ll need to cook a 24 oz. package of frozen ravioli until just tender.  I used plain old cheese, but feel free to swap it out something different; spinach, mushroom, asparagus and pine nut.  The sky is the limit.

Baked Ravioli with Spinach from Simplified Feast 3

Once sauce has simmered for a few minutes, gently stir in 1/2 c. of mascarpone.  Cream cheese can also be used, but I opted for the light and slightly sweet flavor of mascarpone.  We’re keeping with the Italian theme here, don’t you see?
Baked Ravioli with Spinach from Simplified Feast 4

The mascarpone will slowly melt with the heat of the sauce.  That beloved bold, red color turns to a luscious pink-red.

Baked Ravioli with Spinach from Simplified Feast 5

Remember what I said about my carbohydrate to vegetable ratio in my post for Spring Pea and Asparagus Orecchiette?  Good, I thought you would 😉

Therefore, we’re adding two big handfuls of fresh spinach to the sauce to try to make things right.  There are always ways to sneak vegetables in.

Baked Ravioli with Spinach from Simplified Feast 6

Carefully stir the sauce and spinach together.  The heat from the sauce will wilt the spinach.  You also may have to work in two batches if your pan isn’t large enough.

Stir in a few chiffonade fresh basil leaves and save some for the garnish after the dish comes out of the oven.

Baked Ravioli with Spinach from Simplified Feast 7

Assembly:  Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a greased baking dish.  Spread par-cooked ravioli on top of the sauce.  Top with remainder of sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Lastly, into the oven it goes at 350 degrees.

Clean up the kitchen, change a diaper (not me!), take the dogs for a walk (that’s me!), and finally pour yourself a glass of Merlot.  Put your feet up and wait for the timer to go off.

Baked Ravioli with Spinach from Simplified Feast 8

After 20-25 minutes and cheeses have melted, remove your masterpiece from the oven.  Garnish with the reserved basil, more Parmesan, serve, and enjoy.

Baked Ravioli with Spinach

To print this recipe, click here for the PDF version
Adapted from damndelicious.net
Yield:  4-6 servings
 

Ingredients:

1 (24-ounce) package cheese-filled frozen ravioli

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 (4-ounce) package diced pancetta

½ yellow onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (24-ounce) jar pasta sauce

½ cup mascarpone

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried parsley

2 handfuls fresh spinach

¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup basil leaves, chiffonade and divided

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a large baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sauté diced pancetta, onion, and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent.  Pour sauce over onion mixture, stir to combine, and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in thyme, parsley, oregano, and half of basil.  Add mascarpone to sauce and stir until cheese has melted, 2-3 minutes.  Working in batches, add spinach and stir until wilted, 1-2 minutes.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook ravioli just until tender, about 2-3 minutes; drain well.

Spread a thin layer of sauce in prepared baking dish and add ravioli.  Top with remainder of sauce mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan.  Place in oven and bake until cheese has melted, about 20-25 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan and basil, if desired.

Enjoy!

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One Response to “Baked Ravioli with Spinach”

  1. malindams Says:

    Lovely, just lovely!!! Mike is a lucky man 🙂


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