June 21, 2010

Buitoni Riserva Pasta & Salad Pairing Dinner

With summer finally here, we love getting together with friends and family to enjoy the fresh produce of the season.  So we were very excited to be chosen to host a Buitoni Riserva Pasta & Salad Pairing Dinner.  With farmer market finds, summer produce, and fresh ingredients from our moms' gardens, we made four light and easy salads to pair with each of the Buitoni Riserva Pasta.

My amazing hubby scoured NYC (including Brooklyn) for all four varieties (and got them!).  Recently, I've been traveling a lot and did not have much time to prepare for this dinner.  Thankfully these fresh pastas were really quick and easy to prepare.  All we had to do was get them from the refrigerated section of the grocery store, bring them home, and drop them into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. 
Pairing #1:  Quattro Fromaggio Agnolotti and Watermelon Salad 
We wanted to start off with a nice, light dish.  I love watermelon salads and have made them with different cheeses, which is how I came up with our first pairing.  First I mixed some extra-virgin olive oil with a quarter of a red onion (diced), and then I added chunks of watermelon and sprigs of fresh mint.  Since the pasta is filled with creamy ricotta, Parmesan, fontina, and Italian Grana Padano, I didn't need to add cheese to the salad.
For the agnolotti, we boiled it then quickly cooled the pasta by running it under cold water and lightly drizzled some olive oil on top.  This dish tasted great when we first ate the agnolotti, and then followed it with a fresh, summery bite of watermelon salad.  Even my husband, who is not a fan of watermelon, liked the salad (because of the fresh mint and sharp bite of red onion).
Pairing #2:  Chicken and Four Cheese Ravioli and Avocado Salad
This dish was a real crowd-pleaser!  I know ravioli is Italian, but I was thinking about Mexican flavors when I thought about this pairing (chances are I was eating a chicken and cheese burrito at the time!).  So we made an avocado salad (basically a chunky guacamole) with avocado, cherry tomatoes (halved), red onions, lime juice, cilantro, and hot peppers (from Bklyn Larder).
To make the baked ravioli, my hubby boiled the pasta (al dente), cooled it under cold water, coated the pasta with panko, and then baked them in the oven at about 350F until they crisped.  He made them ahead of time, so before serving, we popped them back in the oven for a few minutes to brown them.  The ravioli was so tasty, crunchy, and went well with the spicy avocado salad.
Pairing #3:  Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli and Corn Salad
 We were thinking of summer BBQs with sausages and corn when we came up with this dish.  I mixed corn, cherry tomatoes, and diced red onions together with extra virgin olive oil.  This warm ravioli was not that spicy (we should have made a sauce for it) and overall we all preferred the other 3 dishes.
 Pairing #4:  Wild Mushroom Agnolotti and Mom's Garden Salad 
Because Buitoni's Wild Mushroom Agnolotti is so earthy, rich, and subtly sweet, we wanted to pair this pasta with a simple, but fresh salad.  What better than going out into mom's garden and picking anything that caught our eye?
 Sorel, strawberries, basil, lettuce, and mint (not pictured) were all in abundance, so we picked, cleaned, and mixed them all together with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and white vinegar for a side salad.
This mushroom agnolotti was everyone's favorite stand-alone pasta.  My hubby made a tomato, onion, and mushroom sauce for the pasta and we enjoyed it with salad on the side.
It was a fun dinner with good food and even better company.  (And of course, a bottle or two of red wine made the evening that much more fun!)

FTC disclosure:  As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, we received coupons for complimentary Buitoni Riserva Pasta; however, all opinions are our own.  

9 comments:

  1. The salads all sound like great pairings. And each one is so different. Nice way to show how you can dress up a frozen meal.

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  2. hello there :)
    stumble upon your blog! lovely blog you have here. Found you on foodbuzz :) Will be dropping by more often! Feel free to save me on your blogroll :) Happy summer!

    Jen

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  3. great eats love the watermelon salad

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  4. This looks like such a great spread! I like your choice of pairings. Also, I had no idea that you had a container garden! I am so jealous, how I would love to be able to grow fresh herbs and lettuce!

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  5. My gosh, Andrea! What a fun family you have! I would love to host such a meal for my family and have someone do another one. I am just beginning to widen my circle of friends to have developed some friendships that would welcome such an idea. The sauce your hybby made for the last pasta looked deadly delish. The oven baked panko crusted pasta was a fun textural change - and all of the salad combos with each salad accompanied by your vivid descriptions had me popping out of my chair. What a great and fun idea.
    :)
    Valerie

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  6. The food looks spectacular as does your table! Thanks for sharing:)

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  7. You (and Jeff!) did GREAT on this dinner! Wish Canadians were allowed to participate in promos like this - looks so fun and I love how you changed things up by baking some of the pasta!! yum!

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  8. Thanks everyone for your kind words about our dinner! (Wish we could have had all of you come to it!) It was so much fun and quite easy to prepare.

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