Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Two Variations on Lite Ravioli

There are only two of us home now, and with temperatures topping 95 degrees, there are lots of days when I don't feel like cooking much.  On this particular day I had some left over citrus marinated chicken breast, but it wasn't enough for a meal and neither of us had felt like having it for lunch.  So..

Buitoni Lite Ravioli were on sale at the market so I bought some of it along with a  bunch of broccolini, mushrooms and some Fat-free half and half.  I had some nice smoky tasting corn that had also been grilled the night before, fresh herbs from the garden, white wine  and Italian cheeses, which I always keep in the house.  By the time the pasta water boiled and the ravioli cooked, all of my add-ins had been cut  and my whole meal was ready to eat!  Did I mention La Brea frozen French rolls that bake up like fresh ones in 5 minutes?  That's an easy summer meal.

Variation 1
Here's my mis-en-place (my ingredients for the dish).

For two people I used 2 handfuls of mushrooms (these are Cremini), which I sliced 1/4-inch thick, 1 ear of corn, kernels removed, 1 bunch broccolini, chopped, and about 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (leaves removed from woody stems and then chopped).

I also had about 1-1/2 small grilled chicken breasts, which I diced into bite-sized pieces.

I got  a large pot of salted water boiling for the pasta.  When it was rapidly boiling I added the ravioli and cooked it according to package directions, but undercooked by 1 minute.  When the ravioli went into the pot, the rolls went into the toaster oven at 375, for 5 minutes and then the toaster was turned off, but the rolls left in the hot oven until ready to serve.

 To get the mushrooms nice and brown, I heated about 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large, stainless skillet or saute pan.  When the oil was hot,  the mushrooms were added and stirred often, turning the mushrooms and cooking them until brown.  In the chicken went, and it was sauteed briefly just to brown the chicken a little.

 I added about 1/4 cup wine to the hot pan (this is called de-glazing)and cooked on medium to high heat, stirring everything around until the wine evaporated ( maybe 1 minute max).  The pan was set aside until the ravioli was  just 1 minute from being cooked. At that point the pan was placed back on a medium heat and about 1-1/2 cups of fat-free half and half  was added to the pan, along with the herbs, and simmered until the ravioli was ready. 

When the ravioli was done, it was added to the cream mixture, and the broccolini  was blanched  in the boiling pasta water for 30 seconds (if you need to empty the pot to get the pasta out, add the broccolini first and just let it cook for 30 seconds). The broccolini was added to the saute pan, the corn stirred in, and the whole thing tossed together.  Then the pot was moved off heat, covered and allowed to rest and blend flavors.  Before serving, I added some fresh ground pepper and some grated Italian cheese.

I like to use a mixture of Romano, Asiago and Parmesan.  The asiago is mild and smooth, the Parmesan is salty and the Romano adds an earthiness.  Because I like a coarse girnd, I usually do it with my Kitchenaid mixer attachment (it's also really easy to clean.).

I put the bricks of cheese in the top, grate it on low speed, catching it in a container below, and then I add 1/3 of it back into the grinder, so that some of it is finer.

Here you can see the coarsely grated and the cheese that has been put back in and is finely grated.

I should say that this makes a very thin white sauce.  If you like a thicker sauce, reserve 1/2 cup of the half and half and place it in a jar.  Add 1 tablespoon flour on top of the liquid.  Cover and shake it vigorously.  After you add the half and half to the pan, add the contents of the jar.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mixture cook for a few minutes to thicken the sauce and cook out the raw taste of flour.  Continue with the recipe.  The final product will be a little bit thicker still, as the starch from the pasta and the cheese will thicken up the sauce a bit.

Shopping List for Variation 1 (above)
1 package Buitoni Lite Cheese Ravioli
2 teaspoons olive oil

2 handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
1-1/2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
1 ear of corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob
1/4 cup white wine or Vermouth
1-1/2 cups fat-free half and half
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped
1 bunch broccolini, chopped
freshly grated cheese, about 3-4 tablespoons, or to taste

 1 tablespoon flour

Variation 2

Basically, this is the same recipe, as above, except instead of using leftover chicken, I used chicken sausage (tomato, basil mozzarella chicken sausage which i got at BJ's), which I sauteed up with zucchini and mushrooms (in case you haven't guessed by now, I don't eat garlic or onions, but they would be great in either of these if you like them).  Another nice addition to this would be some cannelini beans.  Because we had had the above ravioli fairly recently, I wanted to make the sauce a little different, so I added some different spices (thyme and basil in the above, and basil and lavender in this variation), and I also made a pink sauce by adding in about 1 cup of tomato sauce. 
The pink sauce is a bit heavier, but not as filling as a traditional red sauce, so it is still suitable for the summer.  Because it's lower in fat, it also is nice for the summer.
Each of these recipes serves 3

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