Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Baked Mini Ravioli in Creamy Lemon Sauce
That's where I first saw this dish. It hails from the blog "Our Best Bites" and when Sara posted it she used Barilla dried mini tortellini. Well, for some reason, my daughter loves Trader Joe's mini raviolis but does not care for tortellini. I personally feel like they are the same thing - small pasta, filled with cheese. But sometimes there is no reasoning with a three year old, so I decided just to go with her favorite pasta of all time and use the ravioli. I guess what I am saying is you can use whatever cheese filled pasta you want here. Quite frankly, you could use any pasta.
It's been pretty hot around here the last few days and a baked pasta didn't seem like a great idea by dinner time when the temps had been nearing 100 that day. But I figured, "What the heck, the air conditioning is on, and I've got everything I need on hand to make this (and nothing defrosted)." To say this wasn't one of my I-can't-wait-to-make-it dishes of the week, would be an understatement. I really hadn't planned to blog about it. Color me surprised, it was really much better than I anticipated. I really chose it to be a quick, simple meal for one night when I wasn't in the mood to cook. And it was probably my favorite meal of the week. The lemon gave it an unexpected brightness and really lightened up what could have felt like a heavy meal.
Other than the pasta type, I made a few other variations to the original. Instead of using just milk, I used half milk and half chicken broth. I typically always substitute dried herbs for fresh. And I also halved the recipe for our small family. The original says it feeds 4-6, but I fed three with a half recipe and had leftovers for lunch the next day.
Baked Mini Ravioli with Creamy Lemon Sauce
adapted from Our Best Bites
8 oz mini cheese filled ravioli
2 slices bacon or pancetta
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated parmesan, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add ravioli and cook for three minutes less than package instructions, so they are slightly underdone.
Place bacon in a medium sized skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Cook until crisp, remove from pan, and set aside to drain on paper towels. Reserve two tablespoons of bacon drippings in pan and discard the rest. Add garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour to pan and stir with a whisk for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk and broth and continue to stir with whisk until smooth. Add salt, pepper, basil and red pepper flakes. Bring sauce to a boil. When the sauce has thickened, remove the sauce from the heat and add the lemon zest and lemon juice.
Drain the pasta and place it back in the stock pot. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cooked bacon and add the rest to the pasta mixture. Add spinach, 1/4 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and the sauce to the pasta. Stir to combine. Place pasta mixture into a baking dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan and bacon.
Cover dish with foil* and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and pasta is bubbly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*If you want your foil to come off of the hot, melty cheese later, spray it with some cooking spray first.