Ravioli is one of those things that makes an easy, tasty dinner.
Throw it in a pan with some hot water and simmer for just a few minutes on a weeknight for a quick meal, or dress it up with a fancy homemade sauce as a more indulgent weekend treat.
Whatever you do, don’t make the error of thinking that because ravioli is a stuffed form of pasta it’s enough to be a meal all on its own, because you’d be missing out on some of the wonderful foods that this pasta pairs so well with!
Although the small squares (or circles) of filled pasta may not appear that outwardly exciting, their rounded mounds of goodness hide an explosion of flavor that deserves to be enjoyed with something equally as delicious.
To save your taste buds from this sad fate, we’ve put together some of our favorite foods to have alongside (and inside) ravioli.
Whether you’d prefer a vegetarian butternut squash center, or if you’d die for some lobster-filled pasta, by the end of this article you’ll be filled with ideas on what goes best with this versatile dish.
You can put pretty much anything inside ravioli and it’ll taste good, but certain fillings just have a little something extra when you take that first bite.
We’ve already mentioned two of our all-time favorites, butternut squash and lobster (separately, although who knows, maybe they could be a taste sensation when tried together), but there’s so much more you could do.
Pasta and cheese is always a winning combination in our humble opinion, and even within that, you have lots of choices. Why not go crazy and try three, or even four types of cheese?
Ricotta and spinach is another classic filling, or goats cheese and butternut squash go great together if the lobster-squash mix doesn’t work out.
Keep it simple with just one main ingredient, such as mushroom or pumpkin which stand well on their own, or try a variety of different combinations such as pancetta and cheese or pork and mushrooms to bring out the best of different flavors.
Whatever you choose, you’ll be building the rest of the dish around this, so make sure to make it count!
It’s surprising how something as simple as a sauce can completely transform a dish.
There’s the infamously classic tomato sauce, which you can keep chunky or blend and serve smooth with lobster or any type of cheese ravioli.
Or, you can choose a lighter, less overpowering broth like vegetable or porcini, which lets the pasta and its filling be the star of their own show.
If you’re feeling fancy then a truffle butter sauce is the way to go, as its distinctive, umami flavor brings a whole new element to this pasta dish, or a sage butter sauce feels similarly indulgent thanks to its creamy texture.
Cheese sauce of any kind is another traditional choice, and for the true cheese addict can be paired with a cheese-filled square of heaven for a double hit.
Pesto is also a great option if you're having cheese ravioli, and is perfectly finished with some toasted pine nuts. Speaking of finishing touches...
While it may be the last thing to go into your dish, it’s important to remember to think about what you’ll top your ravioli with to bring the whole thing together.
Pine nuts or walnuts are both popular additions, especially with a cheese or mushroom ravioli, but make sure you toast them to bring out the maximum quality of their nutty flavors.
Shaved parmesan or truffles add maximum flair and flavor without bringing another heavy element to the dish.
A squirt of lemon, a dash of oil, a sprinkling of chili flakes - the question you should be asking is, what can’t you put on top of ravioli?
Because of the delicate nature of this pasta, you don’t want to top it with anything that’s too heavy as it could tear the pasta, causing the filling to spill out before it even passes your lips.
Smaller vegetables such as peas are perfect for this reason, or light, crispy onions add a completely different texture and bring a crunch to every bite.
Last but not least, we have the all-important sides that can either make or break a good meal.
Our personal favorite? Finely chopped brussel sprouts fried with bits of pancetta are out of this world! For a butternut squash ravioli, the bolder, smoky flavors of the pancetta are a perfect pairing.
Vegetables are so versatile that they can be cooked any way to compliment any dish, but they’re particularly well-suited to ravioli.
You can roast root veggies such as carrots and parsnips which will bring out their sweetness, and these pair beautifully with more savory types of ravioli.
Greener veg like runner beans, tender stem broccoli, and sugar snap peas can all be fried, griddled, or charred for a fresh and crispy bite that cuts through the decadence of pasta with a cheese or truffle sauce.
If you have a particularly saucy ravioli, why not mop up whatever’s left on your plate with a side of bread?
Have it plain or smothered in garlic, herby, cheesy, or savory. Bread is perfect in all its forms, and it would be a great accompaniment to your ravioli.
When deciding what will go best with the ravioli you’re planning on making for dinner later, always consider the basic flavors and use those as a base around which to build the rest of the dish.
Decide on your filling or sauce first, as these will inspire the rest of the ingredients.
Whether you end up choosing to go for complimentary tastes and textures, or to offer up a juxtaposition of beautifully contrasting flavors, you can’t go wrong with any of the ideas we’ve suggested.
The great thing about ravioli is that, however you make it, it’s sure to be delicious. Why not try experimenting with a few of your favorites to switch things up?
If you do, be sure to comment and let us know what you thought. Happy cooking!