Things I love: easy dinners.
Typically, this means: a stir fry, a red sauce-pasta dish, a creative salad, a grilled chicken and veggie, a rice bowl...on rotation each week.
Frozen dinners? Not usually my thing. To be honest, they are mostly-pretty-gross (but I found a good one, trust me, more on that later!).
The other thing is - if I am going to make something “frozen” or half-prepared, it’s likely going to be when I’m alone and not when I’m cooking for the fam. They tend to be a “everyone left me for the night, now it’s 9PM, and I’m hungry...and lazy…” kind of decision. And then, I’m so happy I put at least one of them in the freezer from 3 months ago at the grocery store.
Anyway, I took a challenge on this month of creating some creative recipes from a frozen meal. Why? Because A) I found a company that makes legit pasta with a very small ingredient list, of things I can pronounce and know what they are. And B) because I have a new baby arriving in a few weeks and I need to get efficient here. Also, C) I thought this would be a fun, creative challenge….
ELEVATE THE FREEZER MEAL.
Here’s what we’re doing: We’re taking a frozen butternut squash ravioli and making it beautiful 3 different ways.
Let’s be honest - you love butternut squash ravioli - but are you going to make pasta dough from scratch? And then ravioli on top of that? And then a sauce?
No, you’re not.
And we are entering FALL when you will def want this on your menu.
So, let’s reinvent the frozen meal a bit. Take out some of the prep work, if you will. You find a good quality prepared butternut squash ravioli, and all YOU have to focus on is how to add a creative spin, with one of my ideas below.
Not only are you playing with ingredients and flavors, but I want you to also play with the plating by making it your own. Anyone can throw a microwaved dinner in a bowl - but here - you are going to make it look fancy because you’ve already taken out a lot of the work upfront and can focus on the beauty!
(FYI: the visual is really important to your dinner. You will feel WAY more satisfied if you genuinely want to eat what is in front of you. And the way you do that is to make it look...really nice.)
The ravioli that I’m using is from Gabriella’s Kitchen. Their skinnypasta™ is low calorie, low carb, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free, so you’re covered no matter what allergies or dietary restrictions you're following. No preservatives, no GMO ingredients. (They also carry fresh teff pasta and a kids' line!) Here are the ingredients for the squash ravioli while we are on this topic:
INGREDIENTS: CRUSHED TOMATOES (TOMATOES, WATER, SALT, CITRIC ACID), WATER, BUTTERNUT SQUASH, EGG, TAPIOCA STARCH, ARROWROOT STARCH, ONION, CARROTS, POTATO STARCH, OLIVE OIL, XANTHAN GUM, SALT, GARLIC, THYME, OREGANO, BASIL, BLACK PEPPER.
I know what all of those things are. Yay! xanthan gum is probably the weirdest thing - and it’s a thickener and stabilizer created when a sugar is fermented by a certain kind of bacteria. It’s then made into a solid using alcohol, and the ground into a powder. It's an unprocessed ingredient and usually harmless unless you have very sensitive digestion.
Anyway - find a good quality ravioli (like the one above! You can find them in Philly ACME stores or can order online - check out the store locations here.) and let’s get cooking.
I have THREE variations on the butternut squash freezer meal below. For each of these - I’m assuming 2 servings when served with a salad, so adjust as you wish.