Buffalo parents and children may already have thoughts of back to school dinners dancing in their heads. Always a family favorite, this baked ravioli casserole can be made ahead of time and frozen. Pull it out of the freezer in the morning, set it in the fridge to defrost. Uncover and bake at 425*F for about 55 to 60 minutes if still a bit frozen. If completely defrosted, just follow the baking instructions.
This is a fast, easy, delicious alternative to lasagna. You can buy frozen cheese ravioli from Aldi or Save-A-Lot. The beef ravioli at Save-A-Lot work well too, but you’ll want to substitute 16 ounces of part skim ricotta for the meat (kind of switch it around, the meat is in the ravioli).
1 large package (24 to 28 ounces) frozen cheese ravioli
1 pound 85% to 90% lean ground beef (see recipe notes)
1 jar (26 to 28 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese
Brown ground beef in a skillet. In 11x7x2-inch 13x9x2-inch casserole dish, layer 1 cup pasta sauce, half of frozen ravioli, half of ground beef, half of cheese. Repeat the layering with 1 cup sauce and remaining pasta and ground beef. top with remaining sauce.
Bake uncovered at 425*F for 30 to 35 minutes. Top with remaining cheese. Cook until cheese is melted.
Rachael’s Recipe Notes:
The original recipe calls for Ragu spaghetti sauce, but I have used a zillion other brands successfully. My favorite sauce to use is my crockpot spaghetti sauce.
You can substitute ground chicken, turkey, reconstituted TVP or soy crumbles for the ground beef in this dish. Or leave the meat out all together, it’s not really necessary. Want meat, but less of it? Use a half pound, increase the cheese by 1/2 cup.
Add a little bit of chopped onion (about 1/2 cup) and some finely minced garlic (about 2 cloves) to the beef while it’s browning. It adds nice flavor. You may also find you need to add a little salt to the meat while it is cooking.
If you’re feeling adventerous, you can make your own cheese ravioli for this recipe. It’s a little more time consuming, but worth it if you have the time. I like to make up batches of cheese ravioli (4 to 6 dozen at a time) and freeze them for future use.
This serves 4, as long as I serve it with garlic bread or stuffed Italian bread and a big salad.
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