Spinach, cheese and ravioli bake

Michigan May temperatures are still chilly, though the sunshine has been warming me up for some outdoor gardening and exercise. I had some ingredients ready to go for another dinner dish, but decided to pair them up and make a classic comfort meal last week. I have made variations of this dish, already on this blog, but just made up this recipe and it was equally delicious.

I also wanted to test out my new box cheese grater, which is a huge improvement over other types of old-fashioned graters.  This easy pour grater by Venn Kitchen has four stainless steel grating sides which are very sharp.  The base is also non-slip with a design that can be used in two directions–vertical or horizontal, depending on personal preference.  Also included and what gives this grater a market advantage, is the unique compartment which collects the grated ingredients neatly and easily.

I loved the grater which I used for this recipe, and it made the whole dish come together so fast.

Here is how to make this comforting meatless pasta dish.  Gather these ingredients:  Pasta sauce, frozen mini cheese ravioli, shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded Parmesan cheese, frozen spinach

Start by shredding the cheeses.  I used one cup of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Layer the casserole dish with a thin coat of pasta sauce.  Add a layer of ravioli, top with cheese and then the spinach layer.

Layer 2-3 more times to complete the dish. Finish the top of the dish with grated Parmesan. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling hot.

Serve with a side salad.  This recipe freezes well for future leftovers.

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Shortcut lasagna

When short on time but still craving the taste of a cheesy lasagna, try this shortcut ravioli lasagna recipe. I found this recipe in the Taste of Home magazine and found it to be extremely tasty and easy to prepare on a weeknight. Choose between either frozen meat ravioli or just cheese ravioli and put together this dish in minutes, ready to bake in the oven for a delicious hot meal.

Purchase the following ingredients and get ready for a delicious dish.  One jar of pasta sauce, 1 bag frozen ravioli, 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, shredded mozzarella cheese.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the pasta sauce in a saucepan before beginning the recipe layering.  Begin by spreading some pasta sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan. Add a layer of ravioli, a layer of spinach, some shredded mozzarella cheese, and then begin again with the sauce until using up all the ingredients.

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The top should have a nice layer of mozzarella cheese.  I also topped with shredded Parmesan cheese and sprinkled with parsley flakes.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.  Serve with a side salad, crusty bread, and a warm beverage.

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vegetable lasagna (mushroom and spinach)

Summer pasta dishes are often lighter when served during the summer months.  We prefer to eat less pasta during the summer overall, but sometimes the selection of summer vegetables encourages me to add them to even more main dishes than in the winter.  This recipe is one of my favorites when summer vegetables are ready for being the main attraction.

Here is how I made this dish:

In a large skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add these ingredients:  one medium chopped white onion, about 3-4 large carrots cleaned and chopped into smaller size pieces, and 3-4 stalks of celery diced.  After cooking down for a few minutes, add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 2 tablespoon tomato paste.  Cook together.

Next add about 15 chopped white mushrooms, which have been cleaned well.  Add salt and pepper to the mixture, while cooking at least 5 more minutes until the mushrooms cook down.  Next, add one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes.  Heat until all ingredients are well blended and warm.

While these ingredients are cooking, make the cheese layer for the lasagna.  I used 5 ounces of shredded Parmesan cheese, mixed with 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese, 8 ounces of ricotta cheese, one egg, and one drained and squeezed box of frozen spinach.  All of these ingredients will mix well into a bowl and be ready for the layering process.

In a large 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish, use some of the tomato mixture to line the bottom of the pan. Next add 3-4 no-cook dry lasagna noodles.  For the next layer, add tablespoons of the cheese mixture over the noodles and spread to form a layer.  Next add another layer of tomato sauce, and noodles, and cheese.  Layer until the ingredients are used fully. Make sure the top layer of the lasagna is the tomato sauce. For the final topping to the lasagna, I added more shredded mozzarella, fontina, and Parmesan cheese.

Baking directions:   For the first half of the baking time, cover the dish with tin foil completely.  For the second half of the baking time, remove the foil.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes.

Summer variations:  Use fresh chopped tomatoes, Use fresh spinach which has been sautéed down in a skillet prior to adding to this dish, Use fresh onions of all types, Use fresh chopped zucchini.  Many fresh herbs can be used. Some of my favorites are fresh oregano, parsley, thyme, chives and sage. A variety of mushrooms can also be used.

Cheese variations:  Fontina cheese is delicious in this recipe.  Fresh mozzarella can also be used.

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spinach lasagna

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since we are still suffering with extremely cold temperatures in Michigan, i decided to pull out a recipe from one of my garden club friends.  the ultimate comfort food for those cold winter days has to be lasagna.  instead of making the traditional meat lasagna, i opted for a vegetarian recipe of spinach lasagna.  this was an excellent recipe and one that i will make again

the recipe was taken from our garden club cookbook that was published a couple of years ago. the cookbook is filled with so many home cooked favorites of friends of mine in midland.

i made the recipe exactly as written and it was delicious.  here is the recipe:

28 ounces spaghetti sauce, 2 eggs, 15 ounces ricotta cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 10 ounces frozen spinach, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 pound grated mozzarella cheese, 1/2 pound uncooked lasagna noodles.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  thaw and drain the spinach.  beat eggs in bowl, add ricotta, spinach, salt and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  lightly spray bottom of baking dish with oil.  start the layers with the sauce.  cover bottom of dish, layer noodles, half ricotta mixture, half mozzarella cheese, then sauce.  repeat.

sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan cheese. cover the dish with foil.  bake 40 minutes and uncover for 20 minutes for a total of 60 minutes bake time.  let stand for about 5 minutes before serving in squares.

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spinach roll ups

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instead of a traditional lasagna, i tried this recipe that uses the lasagna noodles as roll ups.  the recipe comes from a cookbook from the oyster-ponds historical society of long island new york.  as a main dish casserole, this recipe was very tasty.  it also does not use an excessive amount of cheese, which is more calorie friendly,

the recipe begins with cooking the lasagna noodles with package directions.  i used eight noodles, but the amount can be adjusted to serve your guests.  while the noodles are cooking, mix together the filling ingredients.

Filling ingredients:  one 10 oz package of thawed and squeezed dry frozen spinach, 1 cup cottage cheese, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind, and black pepper to taste.

when the noodles are done, spread one to two tablespoons of the filling on a noodle, working one at a time.  roll up, end to end, and then stand in a casserole dish.  

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use your own or best store brand tomato sauce and cover the roll ups with about 2 cups of sauce.  bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.  garnish with freshly grated cheese and parsley.

spinach lasagna

the last time i made lasagna was in 2006, but this week seemed like a good week to try out the recipe again. this recipe was given to me by a college roommate and i have adapted it over the years to using only vegetables. this week, i used spinach instead of beef. i also used canned tomato pieces instead of a tomato sauce. my favorite brand of diced or chopped tomatoes is dei fratelli. this recipe can be made with eggplant, zucchini or other vegetables. served with a salad, this is truly a comfort meal.