- Spaghetti sauce
- feta cheese
- roma tomatoes
- red onion
- olive oil
Preheat your oven to 375 before starting, if you’re going to cook after you assemble it.
A note about spaghetti sauce and ravioli: I use Prego sauce and Costco’s cheese ravioli in the purple bag. Why? Because I don’t get a lot of time off, and I don’t feel like spending an entire day making sauce ad ravioli. And, if you’re busy like most of the world, you probably don’t want to either. So premade sauce and ravioli are fine, home made are great.
Bruschetta Mix (Prepare a day in advance if you can)
You’re going to combine everything but ravioli, sauce, and feta into bruschetta. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s essentially Italian salsa, without the heat.
In a bowl bigger than a cereal bowl, but smaller than your popcorn bowl, combine:
Garlic (approx 1 teaspoon of the minced jarred stuff, or fresh, minced as best you can)
Olive oil (extra virgin if possible, about 1 tablespoon)
Onion (half a medium onion, diced into small bits)
basil (julienned) If you don’t know how to julienne, take the leaves, roll them up from side to side, so you have a long, messy, jointlike object. Then slice across it, the shor way. the end result is thin strips of basil. If you go long ways, you’ll get really long strips, and they tend to wrap themselves where they shouldn’t be
roma tomatoes, diced into small bits. How much? I go for a ratio of about 3 roma to 1 onion. If the flavor’s too strong, add more tomato
Once combined, season with salt and pepper, and more oil or garlic if it needs it. Keep in mind this is going into a dish, so it’s not the same as seasoning for being put on bread. If it seems a little bit flat, remember that there’s plenty of salt in store bought sauce, so it should be fine.
The bruschetta topping should be made as far in advance as you can. If that’s a day or two, great, but you can prepare it 10 minutes before assembly and it will work fine. Extra time means more flavors meld, but Ias often as not, I make it and assmble it, and it turns out fine.
Unless you’re making this a day ahead, you will want to thaw your ravioli. I usually take my pan, and drop the frozen ravioli into it, until I get a rough estimate of how many will fit. Keep in mind that Costco’s ravioli says 3-4 is a serving, and you’re also going to have sauce and veggies, so leave room. Once you have a ballpark of your ravioli, throw them in a microwave safe bowl, and fill it with water. Then toss it in your microwave. Set it for 5 minutes, and while it’s thawing, you can move on to assembly.
The goal is to get them thawed, not cooked. you’re going to finish this in the oven. And, if you’re using your own ravioli, do what you need to get them ready to bake.
Spread a thin layer of sauce into the bottom of your dish. Like lasagna, this is to keep the ravioli from sticking. If you wish, sprinkle a small amount of bruschetta mix in the sauce. Layer your ravioli into one flat layer. If there are gaps, don’t worry. Then, pour a little mroe sauce on top, and spread it around. At this point I just use my hands. And before anyone freaks, yes, wash your hands, like I do, often during the prep work. So, use those digits, that’s why you have them! One the sauce is spread, sprinkle more of the bruschetta mix on top of that layer, and then sprinkle feta cheese on top of that. continue layering raviolyi, sauce, and mix & feta in layers til you’ve reached the top, run out of ingredients, or get tired of building the great pan of ravioli.
Once it’s done, make sure it’s sprinkled with the last of your bruschetta mix and a healthy dose of feta, and then it’s ready to bake. Since everything’s precooked, all you have to do is warm it up. If you want, yo ucan cover it with foil and toss it in the oven for 30 minutes, and then uncover the last 15 minutes, to brown the top and get the edges of the ravioli and the feta a bit crispy. If you don’t uncover it, it will still turn out good, it will just not have the browned edges and feta, and the colour will be brighter. Personally, I like to leave it uncovered the entire time.
A note about cheese: I like to use Athenos feta in their sundried tomato and basil, but any feta will work. if you buy the Athenos brand, and you like feta, or you’re making a huge pan of this, get the compressed block, not the crumbles. The block is 8 ounces, the pre crumbled stuff is 5, but the price is pretty much the same.
If you’re not sure you like feta, I still recommend that you make it with the feta. There’s not a lot in the recipe, when I make a pan, it’s 5-6 servings, and I use maybe 3 ounces of cheese. The slightly sour, pungent taste of feta really compliments the ravioli and sauce. I don’t recommend mozzarella in this dish, the new Buca recipe has it, and the top is a huge coating of stringy cheese, and once it cools down, it’s difficult to cut. Also, if you limit the amount of cooking time, and it doesn’t get really hot in the middle of your dish, the cheese won’t melt. So, you’ll have this obviously shredded, non melty cheese. Feta doesn’t melt, it browns nicely on top, and beings a nice sharpness that mozzarella won’t.