Chicken Pesto Ravioli Casserole

I was inspired to create this dish from several various Pinterest recipes using frozen or refrigerator ravioli and cheese as the basic ingredients.  I was also inspired to make this dish because this was what I happened to have on hand one hour before I was scheduled to have dinner ready.  My husband and son both liked my version because it included protein (meat!), cheese and red pasta sauce, all of which are favorites for my men.  This version makes 4 servings. Sorry, but there is no picture because the guys were hungry and ate it before I could snap one.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • pesto, 1/4 to 1/3 cup, depending on how much you like pesto (make fresh or purchase from the grocery store)
  • red sauce (tomato sauce), 8 oz. (from your favorite jar or homemade; see notes below for how to take store-bought sauce to a new level of fabulosity)
  • cheese ravioli (16 oz.), refrigerator or frozen variety, thawed (homemade is also a good option for the Martha Stewart version)
  • olive oil; 1 Tbsp
  • chopped onion, 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on how much you like onion)
  • minced garlic, 3-4 cloves (see hints for the easiest way to peel and mince garlic)
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella (don’t use the low-fat version, unless you secretly hate yourself)
  • cooked, chopped chicken (can buy pre-cooked deli chicken, refrigerator chicken, or you can poach it yourself–be careful not to overcook, as this will make it tough)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat and saute onion and garlic until just translucent (about 1 minute; do not overcook).
  • Optional:  add a splash of red wine (the good kind; whatever is your favorite) to the onion/garlic mixture and simmer just until the alcohol evaporates.
  • Add red sauce to onion/garlic mixture and heat until just warm.  Stir thoroughly as it simmers.
  • At the same time, heat a pot of boiling water, enough to cover the ravioli.  Add the ravioli after the water is at a full boil, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the ravioli floats to the top of the pot.  (Do not overcook the ravioli, as this will result in mushy pasta, and no one likes that.).  Drain ravioli in a colander and set aside.
  • Mix pesto with chopped, cooked chicken in a bowl.
  • In a 1.5 inch deep casserole dish, spread enough of the red sauce to just cover the bottom (so the ravioli won’t stick; this is an old Italian wife’s trick, although I heard it from a young, Greek, single girl–go figure!).
  • Layer the cooked ravioli over the red sauce in the casserole dish.
  • Layer the cooked, pesto chicken.
  • Layer the mozzarella, reserving just enough to sprinkle on the top near the end of cooking time.
  • Pour remaining warm red sauce over the top of all, covering the ravioli completely.
  • Cook in 350-degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling and warm throughout.
  • Near the end of cook time, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top and heat until cheese is melted.
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