wannabe lasagna bake

Lasagna may be the standard Italian favorite, but raviolis give the classic pasta dish a run for its money! What if homemade lasagana could be healthier  & just as delicious, if not more? Well, I’ve wondered exactly that, and having made lasagna & sauce from scratch before, I know it can be very rich and a process best reserved for weekends. Though, I love everything about Italian food- the tomato sauce, mozzarella, pasta, basil, so I like to enjoy during the work week too, even when I am trying to be more health-concious! That is where my ravioli bake comes to the rescue!ravioli bake - 43

It’s a time saving, healthy alternative, scratching the usual ricotta and adding fresh part-skim mozzarella & parmesan cheeses instead. We’re keeping it plentiful & fiber-full by layering-up a mix of sautéed fresh veggies, a low-fat jarred marinara, and fresh whole wheat cheese raviolis. I often keep it vegetarian, but other times add cooked ground turkey, or lean beef for a protein-push! I’ve been making this one for years. Friends love it, I love it, even picky kids love it, so I think you will too…

On this cloudy Sunday evening, I’ve decided to make a ravioli bake using a standard mix of fresh vegetables I have on hand: zucchini, yellow squash, onion & garlic. This time, I’m going to throw in some sautéed, lean ground turkey and fresh farmer’s market spinach I picked up. This one will be a little more filling, but the good news is we’re hungry:) Recipe follows below, but basically we’re pre-cooking everything except the fresh raviolis & spinach, which cook in the marinara sauce/juices of the bake. We will pre-cook the meat in a skillet. In a separate skillet sauté the veggies, then layer together with sauce and cheese in a 9×13 or lasagna pan. If you’re pressed for time, this one stores in the fridge really well if you want to make a day ahead before baking!

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Fresh Ravioli Bake
Fresh Ravioli Bake! This lasagna look alike is healthier and full of delicious veggies, lower-fat cheese & flavor! Great weeknight family meal and enough for a crowd. Add meat as desired.
Serves: enough for a family & leftovers!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
What to get:
  • 2 packages fresh raviolis (I use wheat stuffed herb cheese variety)
  • 2 jars marinara (or crushed tomatoes) (I like Barilla)
  • 2 (8-oz) bags shredded mozzarella cheese, low-moisture (I use part skim)
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese blend
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 carton fresh mushrooms, sliced (will use little less that container)
  • ½ sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 leaves fresh basil, chopped finely
  • Lemon (for zesting)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • white wine for sautéing
  • * 1.5 cups fresh spinach, chopped (optional)
  • *package lean ground turkey or beef (optional)
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and oil a lasagna pan or 9x13
  2. Slice and chop all veggies/herbs.
  3. In skillet begin veggie mix and sauté onion, garlic & little white wine, until tender.
  4. Add zucchini, squash, mushrooms, seasoning skillet to taste with S&P and 1 tsp Italian seasoning.
  5. Sauté till tender, remove from heat, and discard all excess fluid well.
  6. In separate skillet, brown ground turkey until cooked, draining all remaining fluid.
  7. To meat mix add ~1/4 cup marinara and some S&P to combine.
Prepare to layer ingredients (we will do two rounds of layering for a large 9x13):
  1. Put thin layer of sauce to pan.
  2. Add single layer of fresh raviolis.
  3. Top with cheeses.
  4. Add meat layer (optional) with some of fresh spinach, basil & lemon zest.
  5. Add thin veggie layer, spreading evenly.
  6. Repeat above, and finish with top being a sauce layer (covering and sealing edges).
  7. Sprinkle top with some of the shredded cheeses & bake ~35 minutes (tent top with foil if cheese begins to brown).
  8. Remove from oven & let cool for 15 min, then serve (*Some fluid is normal from cooking veggies, so remove serving leaving any juice in pan).
Notes:
You can use any veggies in the sauté you like. I added ground turkey but this is fantastic without meat. You can make this one a day ahead and it store well in the refrigerator. For a smaller bake, you can do one round of layers which will yield a thinner bake and it will heat faster. I have also doubled this for large gatherings and it works well in two 9x13 pans. If it requires a little extra time in the oven to heat through, that is okay, though you may want to tent the top with foil if cheese starts to brown.
Serving size: about 9

I begin by oiling the pan and adding a thin layer of sauce. Then I layer my ingredients with: raviolis, shredded cheeses, meat mix, veggie mix, and repeat! Finish with sauce & shredded cheeses! If you have fresh basil available and opt to add fresh spinach, just layer that in with the veggies. If you have a lonely lemon lying around, I usually add a little lemon zest, which gives it a little added freshness. This is one is well worth the prep! 

Once you’ve layered-up the goods, bake for about 35 minutes, or until evenly heated through when tested in the center with a fork. You know it’s done when the sauce & cheeses are good & bubbly! Best to let this one set  & cool, to firm-up the layers. Then, you know what to do next! I don’t serve this with a side because they’re already in the bake! Some garlic bread goes nicely, but I’m not planning on there being any extra room this time.

Fresh, store-bought raviolis, and jarred marinara are great ways to save time and you don’t have to pre-cook the pasta or make sauce. This is hearty and gives us healthy veggies without having to make anything else for dinner. Don’t know about you, but I’m ready to eat…

Enjoy this with a nice glass of red wine, Buon Appetito! 

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Thank you for visiting the dinnervine! In the words of Julia Child, "People who love to eat, are always the best people," and I couldn't agree more. I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as I did making them. Here's to creating new recipes and memories with friends & family, cheers! 

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