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Pleasure of ‘Cheater’s Lasagna’ lies in its simple secret: ravioli

Many folks want recipes that don’t require a laundry list of ingredients and are quick to pull together. Lasagna is typically not one of those dishes. But today’s recipe for “Cheater’s Lasagna” is.

What makes this unique and quick is using large store-bought, cheese-filled ravioli in place of lasagna noodles. The pillows of cheese in the ravioli take the place of adding ricotta cheese and pasta layers. You can use square or round ravioli. But using the largest-size ravioli you can works best.

Serve the lasagna with a big tossed salad and garlic bread. In the time it takes to bake the lasagna you can make the salad and set the table. Once you remove the lasagna, let it rest a good 10 minutes before slicing so you get nice even slices.

‘Cheater’s Lasagna’ with Italian sausage

(You can substitute spicy Italian turkey sausage for the regular Italian sausage in this recipe.)

1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) pasta sauce or quick tomato sauce (see note)

2 bags (18-24 ounces each) frozen large or jumbo cheese ravioli, partly thawed

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled

1 package (16 ounces) frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded Italian blend cheese or mozzarella cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spoon one-third of the pasta sauce into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Place half the ravioli on top of the sauce in a single layer; squeeze them in if necessary. Sprinkle with the cooked sausage, the spinach and half the cheese. Layer on the remaining ravioli. Top with the remaining sauce, remaining cheese and Parmesan. Cover with foil that has underside sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbling, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Note: Quick tomato sauce – In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté 2 minced garlic cloves for 1 minute. Add ¼-cup chopped onion if you like. Add 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in some chopped fresh basil. Keeps in the refrigerator for three days or frozen for about a month.

Serves 8.

– Adapted from “Real Simple Meals Made Easy” by Renee Schettler (Real Simple Book, $24.95).

581 calories (36% from fat), 23 grams fat (12 grams sat. fat), 51 grams carbohydrates, 40 grams protein, 457 mg sodium, 115 mg cholesterol, 6 grams fiber.