Thursday, October 13, 2011

Adventures in Cooking: Spinach-Ravioli Lasagna

While we were home in August, my mom made an incredible Spinach-Ravioli Lasagna that came from Southern Living (August 2008) via The dish was amazing - thinking about it now makes me want to hop into the kitchen - and she gave me the recipe to try back in Istanbul.

The recipe seems simple enough - it's essentially a pack of baby spinach, store-bought pesto and Alfredo sauces, and frozen cheese ravioli. I thought all of these items would be easily acquirable at the local grocery store. HA HA HA. There wasn't any cheese ravioli so I went for these little flower pod-shaped beef-filled raviolis, which didn't seem like a big deal. The main problem was the lack of Alfredo sauce; Cagatay says it's just not available in Turkey. Which seems odd but there's really no rhyme or reason why some things are available here and some aren't. (In the aren't category, as far as I can tell: onion soup, paprika, frosting, oatmeal, most salad dressings, and now apparently Alfredo sauce and cheese ravioli. But then there's peanut butter, chocolate chips, and the same brand of gnocchi I used to buy in Dallas, which is why I haven't tackled it again.) But I digress. Lacking the Alfredo sauce, we decided to try a powdered mushroom sauce that was in the pasta aisle.

So a couple of nights later, I tackled the recipe, starting before Cagatay got home. I thought I understood the directions on the mushroom package - it seemed simple, just add cold water and stir. But the result was this really watery sauce which just seemed all wrong considering that this is the bottom layer, supporting the next layer, the spinach-pesto mixture. I imagine Alfredo sauce, being pretty thick, would act as a proper layer. At this point, I started to panic and was pretty sure I was going to have to throw the entire thing out.

Cagatay came home just as the spinach layer started to swim in the mushroom sauce and pointed out that the instructions also say to heat to the sauce before cooking with it. Alas. We cooked it up quickly and used the heated version for the rest of the recipe although frankly, it wasn't all that much thicker.

But miracle of miracles, somehow this recipe actually worked...and it was amazing. On the first go-round, it was a wee bit salty (mushroom sauce) and the tops of the raviolis on the top layer had gotten a little crispy. I adjusted both of those factors during the next try (by not using about 1/4 of the sauce and moving my baking rack about halfway through) and then stopped freaking out about how liquedy it was. The yummy results:

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