Billy and I absolutely love Insalata Caprese. We have it all summer long with tomatoes and basil plucked right out of the garden. It’s incredibly simple to make, and especially wonderful on a hot afternoon or evening when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen. The sweet tomatoes, warm from the sun, the fragrant basil, and tender, fresh mozzarella slices--drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar is absolutely perfect. We also love some fresh cracked black pepper and a touch of kosher salt sprinkled over.
Sometimes though, you’re left feeling hungry a while later. What if we turn that Insalata Caprese into a meal? Yes, let’s! Enter Buitoni Fresh Chicken Marsala Ravioli with all natural white meat chicken, roasted Portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions with Ricotta, Parmesan, and Asiago cheeses, accented with Marsala Wine. It’s one of their new fresh pasta products and it’s wonderful! I was given the opportunity to try some of their new ravioli--and how could I say no? We love Buitoni’s products!
I pan fried the ravioli to give them a nice crunchy texture to contrast with the soft tomatoes and mozzarella. They’re so simple to prepare this way and it doesn’t take long at all. I had dinner ready in under 30 minutes, and most of that time was used slicing the salad ingredients.
Insalata Caprese with Fried Ravioli
Serves about 4 people, depending on their appetites.
I like to serve a nice baguette alongside to soak up the oil, vinegar and juices from the tomatoes that you’ll have left in your plate. You don’t want to waste those!
A note about the bread crumb mixture. I hate it when I’m breading something and I run out of the mixture and need to stop and make more, so I always make more than I need. This makes enough to bread three 9 ounce packages of ravioli and them some. So I did 3 packs so we could have leftovers. Dip them in marinara for a fun snack!
2-3 (9 oz) packages of fresh Buitoni Ravioli (your choice of flavor)
1 tbsp water
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
oil for cooking
4-5 medium tomatoes (I used a mixture of garden and Kumato tomatoes-see note)
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
One good sized bunch of basil
Balsamic Cream or balsamic vinegar (see note)
A bit of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Beat the eggs in a bowl with the 1 tbsp of water. Set aside. In another bowl, big enough to coat the ravioli in-but not huge, mix the panko, the parmesan and Italian seasoning.
Take the ravioli and one at a time, dip them in egg to coat, then drop in the bread crumb mixture. Be sure to coat them all over. Set them aside on a plate or large cutting board until you're ready to cook them. Don’t stack them or they’ll get soggy.
Heat a large pan over medium to medium high heat. When it's hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom with about 1/4-1/2 inch of oil. Let the oil get hot--you don't want to drop the ravioli into cold oil. They'll just sit there and soak up oil and not fry correctly. To test the oil, drop a bit of breadcrumb in the pan. If it sizzles, you’re good to go. If not, let it heat a little more.
So, your oil is hot. Drop the ravioli in the pan in a single layer. Give them about a minute then flip when they're golden brown. Cook on the second side for another minute or so, until they're golden brown all over. Drain on paper towels. I was able to fit one pack at a time in the pan--about 11-12 ravioli. If you see your ravioli is getting too dark, reduce the heat.
Bread crumbs have a tendency to hang out in the oil and burn, so I emptied the pan and started with new oil for the second batch. You be the judge, but burned bread crumbs will make them taste awful. And really, it only takes 2-3 minutes to fry each batch, so it's a really fast process, and not a lot of work. I hope you'll try these!
To assemble the salad: On a plate, alternate the ravioli, tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves in a wreath shape. If you want single serving sizes for appetizers, give each guest a little stack of alternating ingredients in their own plate.
Drizzle with a good fruity olive oil and balsamic. Sprinkle some salt and pepper lightly over the top. Don’t forget your bread to soak up the juices in the plate!
- NOTE: We love Kumato tomatoes when our garden isn’t giving us tomatoes yet. They are amazingly full of fresh tomato flavor. Trader Joe’s has them, but I’ve seen them popping up in grocery stores, too.
- NOTE: Balsamic Cream. Pastene is the brand I find in my grocery store, but last week, I saw that Trader Joe’s is carrying some, too. What is it? Aside from being delicious, it’s thick and slightly sweeter than regular balsamic vinegar. Try it--I’ll bet you fall in love with it like we did.
- For quick dinners, pick up some pastas and sauces from Buitoni! And don’t feel limited to just boiling them, even though that’s fine. Experiment and have fun! I took some ravioli and turned a lighter salad into a heartier main dish--get creative!