Today was one of those weeks where you only make it to Thursday and already you are utterly, totally exhausted. I had so many projects piling up at work that all I could do was keep my head down and power through. Oddly enough, these tend to be the weeks where I like a long cooking project the most. Mindless chopping and stirring make me feel a million miles away from work and provide me with concrete proof of my labor. The more time I spend doing business-oriented tasks the stronger my need to do something with my hands, which cooking satisfies.
This week though I took a different route. Through Foodbuzz I had the chance to sample one of Buitoni’s new frozen meals. I don’t often review frozen meals on the blog and that’s because with the exception of Trader Joe’s Mandarian Orange Chicken, which I keep on hand for dire food emergencies, I really don’t eat them. I usually have leftovers of some sort in the freezer or some ingredients on hand that lend themselves to a speedy meal like a sandwich or quesadilla, so honestly frozen meals rarely come to mind. Because of this I found myself intrigued because I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. When I was first cooking I used to use Buitoni’s refrigerated pastas as a base for my dinners, but it had been awhile since I picked up a box.
However, it didn’t take me long at all to decide which dinner in the line I wanted to sample. I’ve been missing lobster terribly since moving away from Boston so Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli it was, even though I had to visit two stores to track it down. The preparation couldn’t be simpler. A sauce packet went in a pot of water while it was coming to a boil and then was joined by the ravioli. Once cooked, I simply tossed the pasta and sauce together gently. To make my entree more of a full meal I also stirred in some leftover corn (a perfect pairing with lobster), some pre-cooked lobster meat, and some chopped chives. Pre-cooked lobster meat is by no means cheap, but given the strength of my craving I figured it was a worthwhile little splurge.
My verdict on the meal? Mixed. I was pleasantly impressed by the ravioli itself. The pasta was a tad thicker than I would normally make at home, but had a good texure and flavor. The filling was the real star. I dissected a couple of ravioli to get a better look at what was inside and found generously sized chunks of shrimp and lobster. Lots of lobster ravioli, including some I have had at restaurants, suffer from hardly tasting like lobster at all and this was definitely not the case here. I also appreciated the portion size. Portion sizes with frozen meals can be pretty skimpy and end up eating more than the suggested serving size, but my serving left me very full (and probably still would have even without my add-ins).
I did not, however, care for the Garlic Butter Sauce at all. It wasn’t light as it was described in the website copy and was instead more gelatinous. It really masked the flavor of the ravioli and I liked them better on their own. I would have much preferred to purchase just the ravioli and prepare the sauce myself, although admittedly this would have made the recipe more time consuming. It’s a shame too because I thought the value of this product was pretty good. It retailed for $9.99 at my local supermarket which isn’ t bad as shelled lobster meat is pretty pricey so I definitely don’t think I’d be able to make homemade shrimp & lobster ravioli at home for this price.
After trying this I still stand by my belief that Trader Joe’s makes the best frozen meals, but given the quality of the pasta in this dish I’d be curious to try others in the line to keep on hand in case of hunger emergencies.
**Edited to add: Readers who have tried the product as well have been kind enough to weigh in down in the comments section about their own experiences. I highly recommend scrolling down to view their comments as well.**
What about you, what is your favorite frozen meal?