A Romantic Weeknight In, Featuring Buitoni Lobster Ravioli

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Once upon a time, almost 10 years ago, I spent a weekend in Hyannis Port. I sat at a sidewalk cafe, basking in the July sun and trying to not look ridiculous as I cracked open the lobster I had ordered for dinner. I had no idea what I was doing and it was very hard to not make a mess (I had stubbornly refused the bib that the waiter had politely offered.) Then, out of nowhere, I saw Ted Kennedy walking down the street. Eating Ben and Jerry’s. And suddenly I felt very silly. What was I doing struggling with a stupid lobster that had next to no meat in it when there was a Ben and Jerry’s less than a block away? For the rest of the dinner, I could only concentrate on two things: “OMG Ted Kennedy is in town” and “I’m so getting ice cream when we’re done here.”

And that marks the last time I was ever able to think about lobster without also immediately thinking about Ted Kennedy. OK, OK, it also marks the last time I ever ate a whole lobster. I mean, why bother? They’re good, but only because they’re drowning in butter. They’re a pain in the butt to eat, not elegant at all, and you’ll finish dinner still starving since you only actually ate about 3 Tablespoons of food. They’re just not my thing. Other full-sized menu items with lobster in them though? Like Connecticut-Style Lobster Rolls or Lobster Risotto? Sign me up. Pairing that lobster with pasta, in Lobster Mac and Cheese or Ravioli? Even better — much more lady-like to eat and much less chance of leaving the dinner table still starving. (Although I’m also not one to pass up a lobster tail, provided it comes with substantial side dishes that will fill me up!)

Which is why I was so excited to see that Buitoni’s new line of frozen dinners includes a shrimp & lobster ravioli. I had been searching high and low for this product for weeks, when I received an email from Foodbuzz asking for people to host a dinner party that pairs one of the new entrees with a vegetable side dish. Score! I immediately knew what I wanted to propose: I’m not really one for dinner parties and something about lobster ravioli seems so sexy to me that it seemed obvious to use the product as the basis for a quick and easy romantic weeknight in. Paired with a special yet simple-to-make salad dressed with homemade champagne vinaigrette and served with a glass of crisp champaign, this is the kind of meal that demands you turn the TV off and actually talk to each other. The whole meal can be prepared in 20 minutes (and with just one pot) and the price can’t be beat. They make it so easy that there really isn’t an excuse not to have a nice dinner at home. Why not celebrate a special occasion (oh,say, a tuesday) with a great meal like this?

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Of course I do have a few thoughts in the ravioli that I can’t help but share. I know that we just had a great conversation about how cooking from scratch is where it’s at and how there’s no need to rely on convenience foods. But really, some things just aren’t practical to make. Like pasta. Yes homemade is best, but I just don’t have time to do that every time I want pasta. Plus, that would be a little insane. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this product though, and I was a little worried that the pasta and sauce would already be mixed together — heat and serve style. I shouldn’t have worried. The ravioli is just frozen ravioli like any other brand that you might buy (only filled with huge pieces of lobster and shrimp)! The sauce is packaged and heated separately. And the ingredients are all recognizable.

The ravioli itself was delicious. I would totally buy it again. But next time I’d ditch the sauce and make my own. It wasn’t bad, but I would have preferred something a little more delicate. The butter and garlic sauce provided was just too heavy and too garlicky. It reminded me on the topping on garlic bread. I thought it overpowered the rest of the dish. In the time it take to boil the ravioli, you could easily make a white wine and butter sauce with fresh herbs instead. And still have time to make a delicious salad to round out the meal — might I suggest this one with watercress, 1/2 an avocado, 1 ounce of goat cheese, and chopped strawberries dressed with a homemade vinaigrette?

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Champagne Vinaigrette
  • 1 Tb shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbs champagne
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

Combine the first four ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid. Put the lid on the jar and shake well until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

[/print_this]Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Foodbuzz and Buitoni; however, the opinions stated above are my own and were not influenced by the sponsors.

Comments

  1. shelovestocook says:

    Does the vinaigrette call for Champagne or Champagne vinegar? Thanks for clarifying. It sounds wonderful.

    http://www.shelovestocook.com

  2. After making ravioli from scratch, I too can attest to the fact that buying it in the store really is worth it. Don’t get me wrong – homemade ravioli is amazing. But whoa does it take a long time to make. These look delicious! I love the salad you paired em with.

  3. Shea M. @ Blissfully Unrefined says:

    I have to politely, but firmly, disagree on your opinion of the beauty of a whole lobster. I can contend, yes, they are a pain in the butt to eat, but that’s half the fun! And I don’t know where you got your lobster, but either your dining companion didn’t show you where to get the meat from (it’s more than just claws and tail), or you were eating it in the height of summer, when lobsters are molting, and therefore less meaty (not sure why that’s the case), but for your own sake, try whole lobster one more time, someplace good – like Legal Sea Foods – and get it in the fall. Or find a nice place with a twin lobster special.

    Sorry for the rant, lifelong lobster lover here, New England girl to the core :)

    • I am able to get the meat out of the tail and claws, but they still aren’t enough to leave me satisfied. That particular one only came with a side salad, which didn’t do much to help matters either.

      I do like the occasional lobster tail provide it comes with other items to help round out the meal, but in general if I’m going to sit and deal with cracking into shells I’m happier with a bucket of crabs. :)

    • nina in MA says:

      I agree. After reading that article, I felt sorry for you. There is a lot of meat in a lobster, if you know how to do it! I don’t eat it with butter if it’s sweet enough. Or on a roll with a lot of fillers (not my idea of a lobster roll, just the meat please).

  4. Unfortunately, my grocery store didn’t have this today. :-( I was so looking forward to it tonight for a romantic birthday meal at home. I bought Bertolli Stuffed Shells in Scampi Sauce instead. It didn’t look as good as what you suggested, but hopefully it will still be good. I am also making Black Forest Truffle Tart http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/blog/2010/07/06/black-forest-truffle-tart/comment-page-1/#comment-21512 for the dessert. And, my favorite wine is Barefoot Moscato – it is cheap and yummy. I found today a champagne in the same flavor and same brand. It is chilling in the fridge with the tart. Yum-O! Can’t wait till tonight!

    • Yum- that tart looks amazing!!

      The Buitoni meals are still really new, so they can be a little hard to find. I know that one grocery store here carries them, but the other doesn’t yet. I’ve never had that particular Bertolli dish, but i have had some of their others and thy’re very good too.

      Have a great night! :)

  5. VERY SEXY!
    I am allergic to lobster dammit! lol. but i love the dressing. perfect for this weather!

  6. I heart s-berry, avo salads – so so DELISH ; )

  7. Y’know, I think that’s a great message to get across: Sometimes it’s just not practical to go all homemade (especially with ravioli … and lobster). Taking a “real food” journey means baby steps, else it’s off-putting and overwhelming.

    Choosing what prepackaged foods to buy, though, takes a definite learning curve. This is a great one!

  8. What a fancy menu. Anything with lobster sounds delicious. And the avocado and strawberry salad adds pizzazz to your romantic menu. Love it!

  9. I think having Ted Kennedy affiliated with lobster is a great thing. These raviolis look great, too bad the sauce is overpowering.

    The salad looks fabulous.

  10. Lobster ravioli sounds good to me!! and that gorgeous salad will go perfectly with it!

  11. Lovely and healthy treat! Nice to be here. Best wishes.

  12. You’ve only eaten a whole lobster once? Oh man, that’s half of the fun – picking through the body, and I think it just tastes more lobster-y when it’s eaten fresh out of the shell.

    And then there’s the matter of hard shell vs soft shell. Oh, and female vs. male!

    MMmmm, loooobster.

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