Take out Tuesday, The Crazy Italian Ravioli Casserole

I saw a photo for Pizza Casserole on Pinterest that made my mouth water so I put it on the Bucket List this month.  It was very simple and pretty child oriented so I decided to fancy it up a bit…it can be made ahead and refrigerated until baking time, and of course would make a delightful dish to take to a friend or family.  This is more of a creation than a recipe, so create your own version to suit your taste.  Mine turned out sort of like a deconstructed supreme Pizza, with ravioli instead of crust, thus the name “The Crazy Italian.”

I actually had all the ingredients on hand, which is the main reason this recipe ended up on this week’s meal plan.  The Marinara sauce is homemade, [well, doctored, see post from Sept. 25, 2012] and I had 1/2 lb Italian sausage in the freezer.  The pepperoni was leftover from another recipe and I usually have some form of fresh pasta in the fridge for last minute meals.  Hungry Husband loves pizza SOMETIMES, HATES lasagna, LIKES spaghetti, LOVES mac & cheese, and says he DOESN’T LIKE pasta. WHAT?  Can someone explain this to me please?  He’s so frustrating! So I try to please, but if I call it something OTHER than PASTA I can get away with sneaking it in sometimes, because sometimes he LIKES pasta.  It’s exhausting…

I  layered  the ravioli in a casserole with Marinara sauce and a mix of sauteed sausage and veggies, using a little Parmesan and Fontina cheese and topping the casserole with pepperoni.

Saute the sausage and then add the onion and peppers, and seasonings

When vegetables have cooked, drain mixture in a colander to get rid of excess grease from sausage and return to skillet.

Top the sausage mixture with fresh spinach and let it steam a minute or 2 on top of the mix, then stir it down into the pan and it will magically wilt and blend.

Now build the casserole by starting with a layer of sauce in a prepared casserole dish

Use about 1/3 of the sauce, spread it evenly over the bottom and top with a layer of cooked ravioli.

I used the jumbo fresh ravioli Florentine, which only has 11 in the package,  so I was worried if this would be enough pasta, but it turned out great.  You could also substitute lasagna noodles, egg noodles or any kind of pasta here, and this dish would be just as good.

Top the pasta with 1/2 of the meat mixture and some cheese.  I used an Italian blend and added some strips of Fontina for some added creaminess in the middle.

Another layer of sauce, and another layer of ravioli

the remaining meat mix and some cheese,

add a topping of pepperoni, and the casserole is ready. HH should love the ratio of meat to pasta in this dish!  I made some garlic bread, using refrigerated pizza crust dough*, to serve with this dish and it was like pizza gone wild!

This dish came together in about 30 minutes.  It was SERIOUSLY good.  It did taste exactly like a supreme pizza.  Be sure to serve this with some form of crusty bread.  This was also VERY filling.  HH & I couldn’t finish our portions, even though we wanted to.  This casserole would be enough for 4-6, especially with a big green salad…which I was too lazy to fix…

I finally got a new casserole dish, isn’t it cute?  It followed me home from Home Goods, $16.99 with metal serving stand

The recipe on my bucket list was PIZZA CASSEROLE

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and this is what is turned into:

THE CRAZY ITALIAN    for a printable version click here

1/2 lb Italian sausage

1/2 large onion, chopped

1/2 yellow, red or green pepper, chopped

1/2 bag fresh spinach

1 package [about 11] fresh Florentine Ricotta Ravioli [Monterey], cooked and drained

1 jar Marinara or Tomato sauce

4 oz low fat Italian Blend or Parmesan Cheese

2 oz Fontina cheese, slices into thin strips

dash of garlic powder

dash of Italian seasoning

Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium.  When sausage is done add the onion and peppers and cook until done.  Drain mixture and return to skillet.  Add spinach and let steam on top of hot meat mix for a minute or 2, then stir down into the mixture to finish wilting.  Spread 1/3 of sauce in bottom of a casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil spray.  Top with 1/2 of the cooked ravioli then top that with 1/2 of the meat mixture and 1/2 of the Italian blend shredded cheese and then layer the Fontina strips on top.  Add another 1/3 of sauce on top, the remaining ravioli, the rest of the sausage mix.  Top with remaining sauce and cheese and the final layer will be pepperoni.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with lots of crusty garlic bread.

*GARLIC PIZZA CRUST BREAD [pictured on the plate above]   for a printable version click here

Refrigerated pizza crust dough

butter

Garlic Seasoning [I used Johnny’s]

Unroll dough and cut into strips or squares [I cut 1/2 of a package of dough** into 4 squares]. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with seasoning.  Bake at 400 degrees until done, it should be crispy and golden like a pizza crust.

**I used 1/2 of a package of dough that was left over from a roll recipe I made last week.  I didn’t know if it would still be good after sitting, wrapped in saran, in the fridge for a few days but it was! It was also DELICIOUS with this casserole.

Bueno Appetito!

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