Weekly Winner: Ravioli Ridiculousness — Because you can’t be good all the time!

ravioli casseroleBaked pasta is good.  Stuffed pasta that is baked is better.  Stuffed pasta which is layered in a casserole with sausage is …. the BEST.  EVER.

Mushroom Ravioli and Sausage Casserole is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a light dish.  However it isn’t as over-the-top as you’d think.  It really works and actually comes together as a somewhat presentable dish.  And while it would be perfectly acceptable to serve this dish at a casual dinner party with friends, my preferred situation for it is curled up on the couch in my jammies.  This big dish of deliciousness comes from Food Network Magazine.

Mushroom Ravioli and Sausage Casserole

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

10 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced

Freshly ground pepper

6 ounces mild Italian sausage, casings removed

3 cloves garlic (2 thinly sliced, 1 grated)

2 teaspoons fresh marjoram, chopped [I used oregano]

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 10-ounce packages refrigerated mushroom ravioli

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook until the vegetables are beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and marjoram (or oregano) and cook until softened, 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and 1/4 cup water, bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 6 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the ravioli in the boiling water as the label directs. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain. Add the ravioli and the reserved cooking water to the sauce; stir to coat. Transfer half of the ravioli and sauce to a 9-by-13-inch broiler-proof baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Top with the remaining ravioli, sauce and mozzarella.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small microwave-safe bowl until melted. Stir in the grated garlic and breadcrumbs; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the baked ravioli and broil until browned on top, about 2 minutes. Top with the parsley.

Weekly Winner: Farro + Fennel + Feta = Fantastic Fall Feast (in a bowl!)

farro bowlThis dish should not be this good.  There is no rational reason for it.  I mean, I knew it would be OK, a unique new lunch, but seriously…. I just kept eating it and asking “Why is this so delicious”!!  The name certainly doesn’t hint at the unique combination of tastiness that awaits — Farro Bowl with Pomegranate Vinaigrette.  Yawn, right??  No!

There’s just something about the combination of the caramelized sweet potatoes, raw fennel, earthy farro, and tangy feta cheese that just keeps you coming back from more.

All I can tell you is just make this mysterious grain bowl and surprise yourself.  Then, maybe you can let me know why it’s so dang good!  The recipe comes from Real Simple Magazine.

Farro Bowl with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups uncooked farro

6 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

1 tsp kosher salt, divided

1 large shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1 cup refrigerated pomegranate juice

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups baby spinach

1 medium fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced, plus chopped fronds for serving

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 oz)

Procedure:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high. Stir in farro and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.
  • While farro cooks, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium. Add sweet potato, ¼ cup water, and ¼ teaspoon salt; cover and steam for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates and sweet potato is tender and browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with farro
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add pomegranate juice; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to ½ cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, mustard, pepper, and remaining ¾ teaspoon salt. Remove from heat and gradually whisk remaining ¼ cup oil into dressing.
  • Add ¾ cup dressing to farro mixture and toss to coat. Add spinach and fennel; toss gently. Divide among 4 bowls and drizzle with remaining dressing. Top with cheese and garnish with fennel fronds.