“Canned food is a perversion,” Ignatius said. “I suspect that it is ultimately very damaging to the soul.”
– Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole.
Although I generally agree with eccentric Igantius’ aversion to packaged foods, desperate times call for desperate measures. Desperate times include those times when your BF reminds you that weeks ago you volunteered to make dinner for his class (fifteen adults) the next day. While you’re at the grocery store. So I played my own game of Supermarket Sweep and threw some fool-proof items into the cart. The result was actually fantastic and several of his classmates asked for the recipe. Which is always great when the answer to “how did you do it?” is pretty much using a can opener.
Ravioli Bake for a Crowd
Note: this recipe served 15 adults with dinner-sized portions. You made need to scale it down just a notch for your family, unless you are a Duggar.
For the chicken, you will need:
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. Italian spice mix (or mix of oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper, parsley)
- 2/3 cup light Italian dressing (try to buy a natural dressing so it is low in sugar)
- 2 tbsp. capers
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 2 cups yellow squash, diced
- Juice of one lemon
- Sea salt and pepper
For the pasta, you will need:
- 2 pounds ravioli – I used one pound each of fresh (not dried) butternut squash ravioli and four cheese ravioli
- 1 pound box Ziti or other pasta noodle
- 2×15 ounce jars artichoke hearts
- 1×15 ounce can Italian crushed tomatoes
- 1×24 ounce jar prepared Alfredo sauce
- 1×24 ounce jar spinach and artichoke dip (I used Tostito’s)
- 1 cup marinera sauce
- 2 cups mozzarella
- For the chicken, preheat the oven to 350.
- Combine all ingredients in a large oven-safe dish. I had to use two smaller dishes.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chicken is cooked through.
- Meanwhile, prepare the ravioli and pasta according to package directions. Transfer the cooked pasta to a massive bowl.
- While the pasta is hot, add the artichoke hearts, tomatoes, sauces, and cheese. Toss well to combine.
- Once the chicken has cooled, cut into bite-sized pieces and stir into pasta mixture.
- Return the pasta to the oven-safe dish and bake at 350 until the dish is heated through and the cheese is bubbly, about 20-30 minutes. Feel free to stir in more cheese or sauces according to your preferences. I sprinkled some Parmesan on top of mine:
- My secret to serving this to a crowd was transferring the baked pasta into a crock pot bowl, so that BF could easily heat the dish when he got to school and serve it hot to his classmates.