Jim made a comment last night while we were washing up dishes that was along the lines of, “You’ve been trying a lot of new recipes since getting these new dishes” (Temp-Tations ovenware housewarming gift from Meghan and Margie!!). Well, part of that is because part of the housewarming package was a book of recipes specifically suited to the ovenware, and for the most part these recipes have few ingredients, no wildly exotic ingredients, and are pretty easy to make. The other part of it is that I find this ovenware just bakes better than the old Pyrex glass casseroles I took away to college as hand-me-downs. Now, if I were going to make a double batch of sweet and sour chicken wings again, I’d use the glass dishes in a pinch, since they are wider and shallower than the Temp-Tations ovenware. But for a meal, I find that this ovenware just cooks more evenly and reliably.

PS Did I tell you the dishes are blue?? BLUE!!

Anyway.

One easy recipe that’s quickly becoming a top recipe in our house is the baked ravioli from the companion recipe book. Being someone who almost never follows directions, I of course have altered the recipe from Day 1. I’ll give you the original recipe, then tell you what my alterations are.

Baked Ravioli with Broccoli and Black Olives
serves 6

1 bag (25 ounces) frozen cheese ravioli*
10-12 ounces frozen broccoli florets
1 jar (24-28 ounces) marinara sauce
3 Tbsp finely diced yellow bell pepper, optional**
1 can (2 ounces) sliced black olives, drained***
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
1 pinch Italian seasoning****

*Since I think cheese ravioli is a little boring — and just to get a little more vegetable in to the dish — I use frozen spinach & cheese ravioli. Both varieties can be found in your regular grocery store’s freezer case.
**I am not going to buy a whole pepper just to finely dice 3 Tbsp of it. I leave this out entirely. But if you had a pepper sitting around, then knock yourself out.
***Nope.
****Nope again.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place all the ingredients except the shredded cheese and the Italian seasoning (if you are using it) in to a 3 quart baking dish and toss to combine. Use a 3.5 quart or even a 4 quart dish if you like having more room to stir everything up. Top the whole thing with all of the Italian cheese blend. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is beginning to brown and the sauce is hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

This refrigerates and reheats like a dream, although you may be a little tired of baked ravioli by the end of the week if you are only cooking for 2 people + leftovers. This would be an excellent, inexpensive, filling main dish for a family supper. We had a bit of Caesar salad to go with it the first night and that might stretch the number of servings you can get out of it.

Some other variations we’ve thought of trying (and maybe will, someday):

-meat ravioli or meat sauce (meat is greatly loved in our house, but I’m also happy that this is a vegetarian dish that goes over well; but meat sauce is a definite possibility)
-baked ravioli with ground sausage, peppers, and onions (brown the sausage and soften the peppers and onions in a skillet on the stovetop before assembling; basically, make sure everything that needs cooking is cooked before going in the oven, and let the oven bake the ravioli and meld the flavors for you)
-instead of broccoli, using artichoke hearts, mushrooms, peppers, onions, corn, eggplant, zucchini…the vegetable substitutions are endless and could easily reflect what’s in season in your area or what’s on sale at the grocery store (or what’s been sitting forlornly in the back of your freezer for months)

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