This Baked Ravioli with Italian Sausage and Ricotta is a simplified version of lasagna, but better! It’s quick-cooking, easy to throw together, and perfectly comforting. Make ahead and enjoy later! 

Pasta is our expertise over here, so be sure to check out our famous Spaghetti and Meatballs, this wildly popular Short Rib Bolognese, and these Healthier Spaghetti and Meatballs. 

Baked Ravioli with Italian Sausage and Ricotta

I may be the only person on the planet who comes home from an incredibly indulgent vacation, only to continue to indulge instead of diving into healthier meal options like a normal person. But the stomach wants what the stomach wants, and this stomach wanted a cheesy, carb-filled, red-sauced pasta bake.

Say hello to my kind of detox: Baked Ravioli with Ricotta and Italian Sausage. 

In all honesty, this actually came about yes, because I was craving pasta, but also because I had a bunch of ricotta in the fridge about to expire and my youngest little guy, Davis, is ALL about red-sauced pastas. He’s a wee little thing (15% for weight and 1% for height), so I’ll pretty much bend over backwards to give him what he wants, even if it means I gain a few more pounds in the end. 

I’d describe this meal as a more simplified version of lasagna, but better. And easier. Included are all my favorite lasagna components which include whole-milk ricotta (it must be whole-milk), salty Italian sausage, homemade marinara sauce, and just enough melty mozzarella cheese to get that stringy cheese pull as each piece is served up.  Where this diverges from classic lasagna is in the noodles, because instead of flat lasagna sheets, I went with store-bought cheese ravioli, which makes the process SO much easier. And cheesier, which is always welcomed. 

As you all know, in classic lasagna you either have to cook the noodles prior, which is a giant pain, or you can buy those no-bake lasagna noodles which take forever to cook. Here, I used FROZEN ravioli, yep frozen – no thawing, no cooking – just layer it up with the other ingredients and let the oven do the work. 

 

Easy Marinara Sauce

I am a big proponent of homemade marinara sauce. I think I’ve bought jarred sauce maybe three times in my entire life, and it’s because whipping up a red sauce is easy, inexpensive, and fast, not to mention better than anything you can find at the store. So obviously, I find it to be completely worth it to take an extra 20 minutes or so to put something together that’s homemade. 

I have a couple different methods for preparing sauce, my most simple sauce is what I use in our spaghetti and meatballs that includes just a little bit of garlic, red wine, tomato pasta, water, and spices. It’s my favorite because it’s simple and takes virtually no time to put together. I wanted today’s tomato sauce to have a little bit more texture, so instead of using straight tomato paste as the base of the sauce, I used  a combination of tomato paste and crushed san Marzano tomatoes for two different textures and two different tomato flavors.

The reason I always use at least a little bit of tomato paste in every single sauce I make, including today’s recipe, is because it adds a thickness and deep tomato flavor you can’t get with  canned tomatoes alone. Because it’s already so concentrated, you don’t have to let the sauce cook for hours and hours to achieve that cooked-all-day flavor, which I love. 

Here’s our sauce ingredient lineup:

  • all the brown bits from the cooked Italian sausage.
  • garlic
  • dry white wine
  • tomato paste
  • canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • sugar
  • salt
  • dried basil
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder

Simple ingredients, maximum flavor. 

How to make Baked Ravioli with Italian Sausage and Ricotta

  • Brown Italian sausage in a large skillet over a medium high heat. Remove sausage from pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up as much of the brown bottom as you can, but leave some for deglazing the pan. Transfer sausage and sausage bits to a plate. 
  • Add garlic, cook for 0ne minute until slightly softened.
  • Add wine, use the wooden spoon to scrape up all remaining bits of brown at the bottom of the pan. Simmer and reduce the sauce by half. 
  • Whisk in tomato paste. Cook for one minute. 
  • Whisk in crushed tomatoes, water, sugar, spices and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  • Spoon a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Cover with frozen ravioli. Dot half of the ricotta on top. Sprinkle half of the sausage on top. Spread half of the remaining sauce on top of that. Repeat with remaining ingredients. 
  • Cover with foil and baked for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly, another 15 minutes. 
  • Let it rest for 5-10 minuets before serving. 

Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success

  • Swap out red wine for white in the sauce. Whatever you’ve got! 
  • You can use sweet, mild, or spicy Italian sausage. Feel free to swap out turkey Italian sausage as well. 
  • You can also use refrigerated ravioli, but the dish may not need to bake as long. 
  • This would also be lovely with fresh mozzarella cut into big slices. 

Can Baked Ravioli be made ahead of time? 

Yes! Make everything, up to baking, let it cool, cover with foil and bake whenever you’re ready. 

Can Baked Ravioli be frozen? 

I haven’t tried to freeze it, but I imagine it would freeze well. I would probably make extra sauce to keep the dish moist. 

What to serve with Baked Ravioli 

 

Baked Ravioli with Italian Sausage and Ricotta

Baked Ravioli with Italian Sausage and Ricotta

Yield: 4-6

This Baked Ravioli with Italian Sausage and Ricotta is a simplified version of lasagna, but better! It's quick-cooking, easy to throw together, and perfectly comforting. Make ahead and enjoy later! 

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 lb sweet or mild Italian sausage
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • 14 oz. crushed san Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 15 oz. whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 lb frozen cheese, spinach, or beef ravioli
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a large skillet to a medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned. Remove sausage from pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up as much of the brown bottom as you can, but leave some for deglazing the pan. Transfer sausage and sausage bits to a plate. 
  3. Add garlic, cook for one minute until slightly softened.
  4. Add wine, use the wooden spoon to scrape up all remaining bits of brown at the bottom of the pan. Simmer and reduce the sauce by half. 
  5. Whisk in tomato paste. Cook for one minute. 
  6. Whisk in crushed tomatoes, water, sugar, spices and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  7. Spoon a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Cover with frozen ravioli. Dot half of the ricotta on top. Sprinkle half of the sausage on top. Spread half of the remaining sauce on top of that. Repeat with remaining ingredients. 
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly, another 15 minutes. 
  9. Let it rest for 5-10 minuets before serving. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 892 Total Fat: 64g Saturated Fat: 32g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 30g Cholesterol: 190mg Sodium: 1602mg Carbohydrates: 24g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 8g Protein: 51g
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