The trials and tribulations of a scatter-brained kitchen junkie.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Week 5 (Cooking) - Spinach, Tomato, Sausage, and Ravioli Red Wine Bake

Already the first week of February has come and gone and with it the week 5 cooking challenge of alcohol. I hemmed and hawed over this challenge but couldn't make up my mind on a dish; I don't typically cook with alcohol and nothing sounded particularly appealing. So in the end I did as I always do, when it doubt, make it up as you go along!

I spent a day or two thinking of flavor combinations I enjoyed and then pieced this together with what I had in the house. I had to run out for ravioli and sausage, but all in all not too shabby. The dish I created was a baked cheese ravioli with spinach, tomatoes, and hot Italian sausage, tossed in a red wine sauce; then covered in shredded cheese - pepper jack & part-skim mozzarella - and baked to perfection.

  • 1 package (5 links) Italian sausage
  • 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or diced, optional
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper, optional
  • Spices to taste - Oregano, basil, thyme, fennel seeds...
  • 25 oz (give or take) cheese ravioli, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 c - 1/2 c shredded cheese - I use about a 1/4 pepperjack (because I love spicy things) and 1/4 c shredded part-skim mozzarella. 

  1. Remove sausage from casing and cook over medium-high heat on a large non-stick pot/wok breaking into small pieces, until browned.
  2. While sausage is cooking bring a large pot of water to boil.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  4. When the sausage it browned, set it aside in a separate dish, and pour off any grease remaining in your pot; however, it's not necessary to wash/wipe out the pot. 
  5. Cook spinach for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, garlic cloves and spices.

    As you can see here, I didn't cook my spinach and learn.

  7. Bring sauce to a boil.
  8. Stir in the cooked Italian sausage.

  9. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

  10. Once the water is boiling, add ravioli and cook according to package instructions.

  11. Drain ravioli and toss in reduced sauce.

  12. Transfer to a large casserole dish.
  13. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top.

  14. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and just begins to brown.
  15. Remove from oven and allow to cool for roughly 5 minutes before serving.
  16. Dig in.
Note: If your sauce seems too thick you can thin it down with an extra splash of wine before adding the ravioli. If it's REALLY thick, you can add store bought marinara sauce until your desired consistency  is reached. If this affects your flavors, add additional spices, wine to taste.

As mentioned in the above photograph, I didn't cook the spinach beforehand because... well... I didn't think I needed to. So while this dish was delicious, the spinach was a bit stringy and definietly should have been cooked briefly before adding the other elements. I've corrected that for you, and will do so for myself in the future.

Happy dining!


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