I love to cook, but even for those of us who love to do it, it doesn’t mean we want to be in the kitchen all day long. Sometimes we want something tasty and we want it fast.
I love going to specialty stores and one of my favorites, which you might have guessed from a previous post I did, is Trader Joes (TJ’s). The other day my husband Brandon and I were out to eat with some friends as I looked across the parking lot, I saw a Trader Joe’s. We don’t have one in Salem, so needless to say I bolted over there with my friend Ashley to peruse the store and all of their tasty offerings.
One thing I came across was fresh made ravioli. They had several varieties so I snagged a few. The great thing about fresh made pasta is it cooks in about a third, or less, of the time of most dried pasta’s. The other great thing is it tastes way better too. Just toss your pasta in boiling water and in about 2-4 minutes it’s done. Slap some sauce on it, add some crusty bread and a salad and you have dinner in as little as 10 minutes. Watch out Olive Garden!!
Since were on quick and easy recipes this week, a great tip to quick meals is using store made items and adding your own personal flare to them. For my ravioli I decided I wanted to make a simple cream sauce because I wanted something more than just a jarred tomato sauce, and depending on the kind of ravioli you have, tomato sauce can actually cover up the flavor of the pasta. When I was at TJ’s I also grabbed some Gruyere Cheese which is known for its slightly nutty flavor and amazing melting consistency (it tastes slightly like Swiss cheese and gorgonzola, but on an extremely light note). I added this together with a basic béchamel sauce and I had the perfect creamy sauce for my Artichoke and Spinach & Ricotta Cheese Ravioli’s. When I was done, it looked like something you might get at your favorite Italian restaurant only it was way cheaper and I had left over’s for lunch the next day.
Recipe: Store Bought Ravioli with Gruyere Cream Sauce
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Often cream sauces are made, well with cream, but this can really pack in the calories. As a little healthier of an alternative I used part whole milk – to still give it that richer flavor – and part skim milk. Since the sauce will take slightly longer than the pasta to cook, start the sauce while your pasta water is coming to a boil. This way they will both be done about the same time.
2 packages fresh ravioli – whatever flavors you desire – I used 1 package each of artichoke ravioli and spinach and ricotta ravioli.
2-3 quarts boiling salted water
Cook according to directions on package – drain and set aside if they finish before the sauce is done.
3 tbs unsalted butter
3 tbs + 1 tsp white all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 ¼ cups skim or nonfat milk
4 ounces gruyere cheese- grated
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Directions: On medium heat in sauce pan melt butter. When completely melted add flour and stir well. Stirring frequently cook until lightly golden about 2 minutes. While stirring slowly pour in whole milk and 1 cup of the skim milk, pepper, salt and nutmeg. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Once it starts to lightly bubble, add cheese stirring until it is completely melted and sauce appears smooth and creamy. If sauce seems to thick use remaining milk and more if needed to thin down to desired consistency. Taste and add more salt, pepper or nutmeg if desired before adding pasta. Drain pasta and add to sauce.
Serve with salad and French bread if desired.
A quick salad tip: When you have something rich as your main course (like ravioli) a lighter side is often the way to go so you don’t overload your palate. My favorite is: Take chopped Romaine lettuce and toss with a little bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and fresh ground pepper. Toss and serve.