24 June 2010

Double Take: Ravioli in Basil-Cream Sauce

 Mushroom Ravioli in Basil-Cream Sauce

EDIT: To see an updated version of this sauce, complete with recipe, check out this post!

I’ve always been a bit wary of ravioli. Maybe it was the yucky Chef Boyardee that my friends’ parents would serve when I went to visit sometimes. I know a lot of people loved the stuff as kids, but I never did. Over the years, I find my friends ordering things like butternut squash or pumpkin or mushroom ravioli at restaurants. Well, the mushroom ravioli peaked my interest, and I finally tried it again once at an Olive Garden. I actually enjoyed it. It’s the one thing other than the soup, salad, and breadsticks (well, and dessert too) that I like from Olive Garden. Everything else I can make at home with much better results, so if I’m going there, it’s to get SS&B. And well, they never put enough sauce with the ravioli, which I find disappointing. Perhaps tons of sauce is not authentic Italian, but I like sauce darnit!

When I saw a recipe for Ravioli in Basil-Cream Sauce in the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, I bookmarked it to try (page 336). I was interested, definitely, but knew I’d have to find some pretty spectacular frozen ravioli to make this recipe any good. So I went hunting for frozen ravioli. No such luck. But the grocery store had a decent selection (4 choices) of fresh ravioli, so I suggested to Tabs that we take that route. Plain beef also wasn’t an option, so we decided to go crazy and pick out whatever type of filling we wanted. I picked mushroom for me and a meat combo for Hubby (beef, pork, spinach). I debated over Hubby’s for quite some time. You see, he likes meat, but I wasn’t sure if he’d be thrilled by the spinach thrown in (he loves it raw, just not a fan of it cooked) and I wasn’t sure if the meat would actually be good. My mind kept wandering back to the yucky Chef Boyardee beef ravioli. But the cheese fillings were mostly ricotta, and Hubby doesn’t like ricotta. So I opted for meat. I should have gotten ricotta, but really, I think we just aren’t ravioli people.

This recipe calls for RO*TEL (okay, so not actually by name, but what else do you think “10 ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chiles” means?), which I knew I would be unable to find, so I grabbed a can of herbed diced tomatoes. Next on the list: 3 green onions. Oh my, those are HUGE. But I grabbed them and went on. Cream: Hrm, it calls for one cup and I probably have half a cup in the fridge. I’ll grab the pint since it actually recloses. Fresh basil: Oh crap, I would want to make this recipe on the one day they are out of fresh basil. I have plenty of dry at home. Guess I’m using that. Fresh garlic: Again, plenty at home. Parmesan: Ah, I love living in Germany where real parm is 14 euros ($17.23) a kilo (2.2 pounds) instead of $23 a pound!

Putting the recipe together is relatively simple. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and keep warm. Hint: Filled pasta can be quite fragile, so instead of dumping the meat pasta into the colander, I pulled them out piece by piece (there were only 6 pieces, each one about 2x1 inches). This process also significantly reduced the splashing as the pieces hit the colander (which I learned when I dumped the smaller mushroom ravioli in the colander. Ouch!)

So I got the ravioli going and started chopping the green onions. I mentioned they were huge, right? Well, turns out they were also powerful. Who knew a green onion could make you tear up? Through contacts no less! I have found the onions in Germany to be significantly (no, I don’t have the statistics, just the tears to back up my use of the word significant) more powerful than those in the US. Shallots can cause me to tear up, too. Back to the process. I chopped the garlic too and got out the pan for my sauce. Add a little butter, then saut√© your green onions and garlic with a bit of Italian seasoning. Next, add the tomatoes and warm things up a bit. In goes the cream and fresh basil (or dried as it was in my case). Bring to a boil, then simmer five minutes, stir the freshly shredded parmesan in to melt it. Mix the sauce and pasta, and viola, you’ve got lunch.

 Just a few of the many STRONG green onions

For those of you with the cookbook at home, you might have noticed that I left out one of the ingredients: fresh mushrooms. Shock of all shocks, I left out the mushrooms. Have you ever heard of such a crazy thing? I looked forward to book club in the US every month just so I could make something with mushrooms. I’m nuts about them! But I left them out of this recipe. I already had them in my ravioli, and Hubby doesn't like them (and Tabs can’t eat them), so I opted to go mushroom-less this time around. And frankly, I’m not sure how much the mushrooms would have added in the sauce. I like my cream sauces on the lighter side, and sliced mushrooms would have added too much bulk to the sauce. Oh, who am I kidding?! Mushrooms would have been great in the sauce, but I was just too lazy to chop them, and I've never seen presliced ones at my grocery store.

THOUGHTS: This recipe completely hinges on your ravioli. Mine was fine, Hubby's was not good at all. The sauce was also fine, not spectacular. It was easy enough that if I found a fantastic ravioli I might be willing to make it again (and make sure I have fresh basil), but I'm not sure that I'm willing to try out new ravioli. I might make it for me when Hubby's out of town, but I'm more likely to make Thai or Indian when he's not around. And that all-too-important question: Was there enough sauce? For me? Not quite. But almost. And I was much more generous that the folks at Olive Garden! And of course, an extra sprinkle of Parmesan never hurt anyone, right?

Make-it-if-you've-found-the-perfect-ravioli-and-have-fresh-basil: 1 vote
No-thanks: 1 vote

For Tabitha's take on Ravioli in a Basil-Cream Sauce, head on over to Double the Garlic!

 I've decided pink sauces don't photograph very well, so don't look at this one for too long or it might make you sick to your stomach... but don't worry, the dish won't actually do that to you!

Oh, and one more note on the ravioli. Don't panic if you flip your mostly-empty plate over on your beige couch... the pale pink stains will hardly be noticeable when you knock an entire glass of red wine over on your couch three days later!


  1. Oh, you are so right about pictures and pink sauces!

  2. It's too bad you chose that recipe to test your love of ravioli. There is a HUGE difference between a sauce with fresh basil and tomatoes and one with dried basil and canned tomatoes. I am not surprised that you were disappointed. You'll have to try the good stuff one day.

  3. Your poor couch! But a little wine with your Ravioli does sound rather tasty! I agree with Helen about the tomatoes and basil, but I don't think I have ever had a really good ravioli either.

  4. @ Aunt Vicki: Maybe it will look better with real basil?

    @ Helen: You've convinced me! I'm going to remake the sauce for dinner tonight using fresh tomatoes and basil. I'll saute some chicken and serve it over linguini. Maybe add some crushed red pepper, too. I'll have to do an update when I have regular internet access again. :)

    @ Momma: Our new slipcover (machine washable) will arrive sometime this week. Thank goodness IKEA delivers some items!


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