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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Taste The Love

Cheese Ravioli Lasagna In A Tomato Basil Meat Sauce

Check out my new twist on a classic.

Let's Dish

 

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Is it crazy to imagine taking a classic dish like lasagna and shaking it up a bit, right? What about taking a little help from your local grocery store. A great start is by purchasing a really good jarred sauce and making it taste as if you made it from scratch. This sauce will taste likes its been simmering on the stove all day.

The other ingredient I’m going to be using for this dish is a good quality store-bought cheese ravioli. They’re found in the freezer section of the grocery store. My favorite is the mini cheese ravioli.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’m utilizing each one of my fresh herbs, from my Organic Hanging Herb Garden, and incorporating them into my dishes. I’m highlighting sweet basil in my Cheese Ravioli Lasagna In A Tomato Basil Meat Sauce.

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Stuffing (2)

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Tomato Basil Meat Sauce

Tomato Basil Meat Sauce

Cheese Ravioli

8 X 11 Baking Dish

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Cheese Ravioli Lasagna (3)

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 8 to 10 servings
Equipment: 1 (9 x 13) baking dish, 2 (6-quart) saucepots, slotted spoon colander, a rimmed baking sheet pan, mini food processor or Microplane

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 pounds (90% lean) ground sirloin
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 (24-ounce) jars of Rao’s Marinara Sauce, tomato basil variety
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of chicken stock, unsalted
2 (1 pound 6-ounce) packages of frozen mini cheese ravioli
1 cup of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (reserve 1/4 cup for the top)
2 packages of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Directions:
In a large saucepot over medium-high heat add olive. Add diced onions 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and light brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes reducing the liquid by half.

Reduce the heat to low, add both jars of tomato basil sauce. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Turn the heat to off, add the finely chopped fresh basil leaves, stir to combine.

In another saucepot over medium-high heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the ground sirloin, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Using a wooden spoon, break up the ground meat, stirring frequently. Add fresh thyme continue to cook until the sirloin is no longer pink and cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cooked sirloin, using a slotted spoon, to the containing the tomato sauce.

While the sauce is simmering have a large pot of salted boiling water ready. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent the ravioli from sticking. Let cook just under the required time on the package, about 5 minutes. They’ll continue their cooking during the baking process. Drain the ravioli. Rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process, then drain well.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by ladling around 1 1/2 cups of the tomato basil sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Next, arrange the mini ravioli in the dish covering all of the sauce. Then add the 1 package of shredded Mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano covering all the ravioli. Sprinkle with half of the finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley. Top with another layer of the tomato basil sauce. Repeat this process one more time. You want to the shredded Mozzarella and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano end up on top. Finally, sprinkle the rest of the finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley over the cheese.

Spray the underside (dull side) of the foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover the dish tightly. This will prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil. Place the baking dish on top of a sheet pan. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 10 or until the top is golden brown.

Let the baking dish rest for at least 15 minutes to set, before cutting.  Serve with fresh basil leaves.

Note:
What’s great about this recipe is you can prepare everything in advance. All you need to do is to prepare the sauce and the cheese ravioli. Layer all the ingredients into the baking dish. Allow enough time for the dish to come to room temperature. Spray off the dull side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray before tightly wrapping the baking dish. That will prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil in the baking process.

Transfer the whole covered dish into the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake. I recommend no more than two days. If it’s been previously refrigerated, the baking time will vary (may take 45 to 50 minutes or until golden and bubbly).

My Organic Hanging Herb Garden

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Cabbage Soup

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Cabbage Soup has to be one of my very favorites when it comes to food for the soul. I believe, if you’re a fan of stuffed cabbage, you’ll love this soup.

I’m using Savoy cabbage (green cabbage is fine as well) and a 90% lean ground sirloin which makes for a healthier and better-tasting soup.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 6-quart stockpot, chef’s knife

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 1/2 pounds of lean ground sirloin
5 cups of Savoy cabbage, core removed and chopped (substitute green cabbage)
1 cup of onions, diced
1 cup of carrots, diced
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 cup of white rice, (Sucess rice Boil-in-a-Bag), remove from the bag
2 quarts of chicken stock, unsalted
2 cups of good tomato juice
Homemade Ciabatta Croutons for garnish
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated for garnish

Directions:
Start by prepping all the vegetables going into the soup. This includes cabbage, carrots, garlic, and onions.

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat add olive and the ground sirloin. Using a wooden spoon begin breaking up the meat. Add Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

Next, add the diced onions and minced garlic. Continue cooking, add the diced carrots, cook together for another 5 minutes. Throw in 2 bay leaves stir to combine.

Add the chicken stock. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Lower the heat to medium, slowly add the chopped Savoy cabbage. Using the wooden spoon to push the cabbage down into the liquid.

As the Savoy cabbage softens and wilts into the chicken stock, add the rice. Simmer (adjust the heat, to medium-low if needed, to a slow simmer) for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Finally, add the tomato juice, stir to combine. Turn the heat off, remove the bay leaves, and cover. Wait 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with Homemade Ciabatta Croutons and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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Stuffed Grape Leaves With Egg-Lemon Sauce

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After visiting the International Food Club, here in Orlando, I came away with a jar grape leaves. I knew right then that I’d be making the traditional Stuffed Grape Leaves With Egg-Lemon Sauce.

Before making this dish, I did speak to a few people of Greek descent what they used in their filling. I wanted to know how much their recipes varied when it came to this recipe. I found out they were all pretty much the same.

Next, I did a little research, I wanted it to be as authentic as possible. What I found was, there was one difference from those I spoke to and the online recipes which called for adding some type of nuts to the filling. I decided to make this recipe as authentic as possible giving the option of adding chopped pine nuts or walnuts. That being said, this dish is definitely a labor of love. 😊

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White Wine And Unsalted Chicken Broth

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White Wine And Unsalted Chicken Broth

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Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven pot with a tight-fitting lid, medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, 12-inch sauté pan

Ingredients:
1/3 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (1 tablespoon for sautéeing the onions)
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup of green onions, chopped fine
1 pound of lean ground sirloin, 90% lean (substitute ground lamb)
1/2 cup long-grain rice, (Jasmine) uncooked
3 cups chicken broth, unsalted (plus 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can, low sodium for EggLemon Sauce)
1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)
2 tablespoons of pine nuts (optional)
2 tablespoons of fresh dill (1/2 the amount if dried)
2 tablespoons of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (1/2 the amount if dried)
1 tablespoon of fresh mint (1/2 the amount if dried))
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper
1 (16-ounce) jar of grape leaves, drained and rinsed
7 whole lemons (for both the grape leaves, egg-lemon sauce, plus 1 to 2 lemons for garnish)

Ingredients For The Liquids: 
3 cups chicken broth, unsalted
1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon of olive oil

Ingredients: Egg-Lemon Sauce (Avgolemono Sauce)
4 egg yolks (substitute “Egg Beaters”)
1-10 3/4-ounce can chicken broth, low sodium
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions: Grape Leaves:
The very first step is to rinse the long grain rice of any excess starch. Place 1 cup of Jasmine rice into a large bowl and cover with water, 3 cups. Let the rice sit until the water turns cloudy. Drain the water and repeat this process four times until the water remains clear. Drain the rice into a large bowl, set aside

Line a large plate with a paper towel. Remove the grape leaves from the jar, separating them carefully, removing the hard stem from each leaf. Rinse each one at a time really well to remove any and all brine.

Let the excess water drain onto the paper towel, patting dry the top of each one of the leaves before transferring them to a large bowl. The imperfect and/or smaller leaves, I used to line the bottom of the pot. This will stop the grape leaves from having direct contact with the bottom of the pot and ensure they will not burn.

Note: The imperfect and/or smaller leaves, use to line the bottom of the greased pot. This will stop the grape leaves from having direct contact with the bottom of the pot and ensure they won’t burn.

In the Dutch oven, on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil. Add diced onions and sliced green onions sauté until just until soft, 2 to 3 minutes.

Next, add the ground sirloin to the pot. Using the back of a wooden spoon, break up the meat. Season with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Continue cooking until the meat is brown and cooked through, 10 minutes. Add the uncooked rice and combine. Transfer to the bowl holding the uncooked rice.

Next, for the pine nuts (optional) and herbs. Add chopped mint, dill, and flat-leaf Italian parsley to the meat and rice mixture, stir to combine. Allow the filling to cool before stuffing the grape leaves.

Tip: One important thing to remember is, you want to stuff the leaves fairly tight but not too tight. The rice is still going to cook in the next step, that said, the rice may expand a bit more and you don’t want the grape leaves to break or to come apart while cooking.

Lay a plastic baggie down on a cutting board. Place a leaf, shiny side down. Add a heaping teaspoon of filling to the bottom portion of each leaf. Next, bring the bottom of the leaf up over the filling then folded in each side and continued to roll the rest of the leaf. Similar to if you were rolling up a mini burrito.

Grease the bottom of the Dutch oven with the remaining grapeseed oil. Line the bottom of the pot with the smaller-imperfect grape leaves. Place the stuffed grape leaves in a circular pattern into the pot. There will be two layers of stuffed grape leaves when finished.

In a measuring cup, add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, dry white wine, unsalted chicken broth, and mix. Pour this liquid over the grape leaves.

Before placing the lid onto the pot, place a heavy plate, upside down on top of the stuffed grape leaves to prevent the leaves from unrolling. On medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the covered pot from the heat and set aside. Star the Egg-Lemon sauce.

Directions For Egg-Lemon Sauce, Avgolemono Sauce:
In a medium-size bowl lightly beat 4 egg yolks with 1/2 the can of unsalted chicken broth. In another bowl add the juice of 4 lemons with the remaining chicken broth and Kosher salt, stir.

On medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Add the 2 heaping tablespoons of all-purpose flour whisking to form a *roux and light blond in color. Slowly add the lemon juice/chicken brother mixture, continuously whisking until thick and smooth.

Remove from heat for, around 2 minutes, or until mixture has cooled down enough to add the egg yolk mixture. You DO NOT want the eggs to scramble. You want a smooth creamy sauce.

Gradually add the beaten egg yolk mixture continuously whisking until smooth.

Arrange the Stuffed Grape Leaves on a large serving platter along with the Egg-Lemon Sauce. Garnish with lemon slices.

*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces.

International Food Club, Orlando, Florida

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