From what I've gleaned, the general consensus on Rachael Ray is that people either love her or they hate her. My brother is one of the latter. He won't even knowingly stand in the same room as a Rachael Ray recipe. I, on the other hand, tend more towards the former. Although, I tend to think I like her more in principle than in practice. I like the idea of 30 minute meals and her food tends to be easy to make, with few ingredients. And with a little augmenting here and there, it can even be healthy as well. I definitely think someone should remind her, though, that even though olive oil is full of good fat, you CAN have too much of a good thing.
Given the success of the last pasta dish of hers that I tried, I decided to tempt fate again with her spinach-artichoke ravioli-lasagna. The idea behind this dish is that it is the lazy-man's lasagna; ravioli are technically made up of layers of pasta and ricotta and so if you throw them in a casserole dish and bake them, maybe they're kind-of/sort-of the same thing? No matter your opinion on the subject, ravioli is a total comfort food for me, stemming from the fact that my grandparents used to live in Little Italy in the Bronx and so we would get seriously AMAZING homemade ravioli whenever we went to visit. I used to have this ritual for eating them where I would bite off all of the edges first, saving the cheesy center for last. Need I say, it was predetermined that I would love this dish, merely because of the fact that it had ravioli in it.
Adapted from Rachael Ray, serves 4
2 (8 oz) containers of Rising Moon Organics spinach and cheese ravioli (it was my first time trying this brand and it was GOOD...they have so many other flavors, some of which are vegan so check them out!!)
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta
2 bags of Trader Joe's frozen artichoke hearts
2 (10 oz) packages of frozen spinach
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp light butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp flour
1) Thaw the frozen spinach and the artichoke hearts in the microwave according to the package directions. Squeeze out liquid from the spinach and drain the artichokes well. Set aside.
2) Preheat the oven to 425. Start to heat up your water for the pasta. Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet and whisk in the flour for a minute. Add the milk. Lower the heat when it starts to thicken and add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
3) Cook the ravioli according to package directions. Mix the ricotta, spinach and artichoke hearts together. Season with salt and pepper.
4) Cover the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with the bechamel sauce (about half the sauce). Spread the ravioli over the bottom. Spread the ricotta/artichoke/spinach mixture over the ravioli. Pour the rest of the bechamel over the top and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. (Rachel's recipe actually has you do multiple layers of the ravioli but I halved her recipe while still putting it in the same sized pan, so this wasn't practical. Honestly, it tasted really good to me anyway and saved time. C'est la vie.)
5) Bake for ten minute. Put the oven on broil (high) and cook until parmesan cheese starts to brown and sauce starts bubbling.
I am submitting this dish to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this coming week by it's founder - Ruth of Once Upon A Feast - so stay tuned for the round-up!