Friday, January 04, 2008


I found this recipe in the Everyday Food cookbook, Great Food Fast, during a recent trip to the library. It’s a real no-brainer (pasta + tomato sauce + cheese + oven = oh really?) and, assuming you’re using cheese ravioli, it probably contains more cheese than you’d want to consume on a regular basis. But it’s fairly quick and easy as all heck (I had all the ingredients in my kitchen already), and it’s a great treatment for any prepackaged stuffed pasta you might have lying around. I had stashed a bag of Safeway brand five-cheese frozen ravioli (I like Rosetto, but my grocery store doesn’t carry it) in case of a food emergency, and it was getting a bit ice-encrusted, and this was the perfect way to use it up. Baking the ravioli seems to give it more character (less soggy, more chewy), and the cheeses form a delightful brown, crispy crust on top. Aside from the virtue of being homemade, the tomato sauce is nothing special, and I dare say you could tweak it however you want or substitute your own preferred tomato sauce recipe, as long as it matches the quantity and texture of this one. I personally would have wished for something slightly less chunky (this may be my fault; I can never find canned crushed tomatoes, and whole tomatoes are so very chunky, so I split the difference and just used two cans of diced tomatoes) and zestier (I sprinkled on some red pepper flakes at the end).

So: I wouldn’t buy ravioli just to make this recipe, but I would make it again if I had ravioli on hand. It’s easy, cheesy, and definitely elevates the storebought stuff to the next level. Which is all you need sometimes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
¾ teaspoon dried basil
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 pounds ravioli (any variety, fresh, dried, or frozen)
1½ cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the dried herbs and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5½ cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (the pasta will continue to cook in the oven). Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

4. Pour the pasta and sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with the cheeses. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Serves: 6
Time: 1 hour

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