My Dad emailed my brother and I to say that he was going to be in town one night for dinner. We agreed that we would all meet at my place, since it was a weeknight and our arrival times would be staggered because of work. Sounded good to me.
Not sure what to make, I googled “What should I make for dinner?”
Up popped a multiple choice quiz, like the kind I used to fill out in Seventeen magazine except that instead of answering questions about boys and makeup, I answered questions about how many people would be over, how many of them would be kids, how long I wanted to spend cleaning up, how well-stocked my kitchen is, and how picky my guests would be.
After all that, the top recommended dish was Ravioli Lasagna. That seemed to be exactly what I was looking for – easy to pre-make, fancy yet easy, having both protein and carbs, and Italian. I didn’t know from the outset what I was looking for, but once I saw it, I knew this was it.
Start off with teeny tiny zucchini. Seems wrong to buy these when a decent garden would produce 10,000 of these. But I don’t have a garden, so I bought them.
Slice them up.
Put them in a skillet with some oil and sauté them. I seasoned them with salt and pepper. Odd that the recipe didn’t say to do that, but they did need some flavor.
Next, take some thawed frozen meatballs and slice them up. I used Wegman’s turkey meatballs to be a little healthier.
Lots of them!
Then I thawed some of my own homemade meatballs that I had in the freezer and sliced those, too. See, I’m so used to cooking for two people that the idea of cooking for five made me think I needed to double the recipe that I was using.
Pour some spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a big casserole dish. This was Wegman’s Grandpa’s Sauce, which hubby is a huge fan of. It has Italian sausage and roasted red pepper and wine and a bit of fairy dust, as well.
Spread some of the meatballs in the pan. I think I was intending to do three layers at this point, though the recipe technically only suggests two.
Then I put zucchini on top of the meatballs.
Followed by frozen cheese ravioli. Didn’t bother to thaw them, didn’t see the point. Just frozen bricks at this point.
Then grated mozzarella cheese. And that’s the first layer!
More ravioli and zucchini
And more sauce and cheese.
Then the pan was pretty full, so I stopped there.
I covered it with foil and stuck it in the fridge to be cooked later. See, I had had a really rough day. Long story short, I was pulled over because my emissions had expired in MD and I hadn’t put my brand new NY plates on the car yet. Rather than writing me a ticket and letting me go to my job interview, the cop impounded my car and left me stranded at a gas station. Lovely day. It all worked out in the end, since I had all the valid paperwork I needed, but it was a rough day. So I was happy to be done with dinner super early and free to drink wine with my dad when he got here. Wine never tasted so good.
About an hour before I wanted to serve food, I put the ravioli lasagna in the oven (still covered with foil) and baked it for about 40 minutes. Then I removed the foil and let it cook for a while longer. Then it was done. Cheesy, bubbly, and warm.
Just what the doctor ordered.
My niece really liked it.
And my camera.
And posing for the camera.
My eyes were bigger than my stomach. It looked so good that I really loaded up my plate.
It may have been more complicated than it needed to be. I probably could have just dumped the whole meatballs in a casserole dish, covered with the ravioli, mixed them up, smothered them in sauce and cheese, and called it a day. But I have to say that I liked the layered effect, and sometimes I think that putting in a little extra effort makes it taste better. Anyway, it was a lot easier than my normal lasagna, which involves making the meat sauce from scratch and boiling noodles and using three kinds of cheese and making a huge mess.
Easy, yummy, and good reheated: that’s a winner in my book.