Lou's Clues: Chef Louie's Dinner Party, Pt. 2

tomatoesIn my last blog, I introduced you to the Chef Louie Dinner Party with my quick and customizable recipe for some rockin' ravioli. This week, we're continuing the party with my "quick" and easy sauce, as promised. I also have a great recipe for you to finish off the festivities: dessert ravioli!

First up, the sauce. This is a pretty basic tomato-based sauce that can be used for any kind of pasta, so bookmark this blog! You're going to want to come back to this one later.

To begin your sauce, you will need your aromatics: a stalk of celery, an onion, and a carrot, all finely minced. Once they're prepped, pop those babies into a high-sided fry pan over medium-high heat with a shot of olive oil, and let them cook until they soften (about 8 minutes). While that is cooking, chop up six tomatoes, being careful not to lose any juice. Once the aromatics are softened, add the tomatoes into the pan. Next, pour a nice glass of wine (about a cup and a half) for the sauce -- and one for yourself (I leave the measurement up to you on that one!). Cook another five minutes, then lower the heat to warm, and pop some minced garlic and Italian seasoning in the pan along with salt (to taste), a good shake of freshly cracked black pepper, and some red pepper flakes. Don't hesitate to dip in with a spoon and test the flavor - if you need more of one spice or another, just add it in! That's what home cooking is all about, after all - making things the way you like them.

Once your ravioli is cooked and drained, go ahead and throw it right into the pan of sauce, give it a good stir to coat the pasta and dig in! If you time this right, you can usually prep the sauce in the time it takes to boil and drain the pasta.

Ravioli Bake
Plain old ravioli a little too boring for you? Try this instead: Instead of boiling the ravioli, layer them in a baking dish with sauce and mozzarella cheese (one layer ravioli, one layer sauce, one layer cheese, repeat until dish is full!), and bake for twenty minutes at 375 degrees. Then stand back to avoid the stampede of guests en route to devour your ravioli bake!

Dessert Ravioli
I know what you may be thinking: "Ravioli? For Dessert? Crazy!", but trust me on this one. My dessert ravioli is easy, quick, and delicious. In fact, it's one of my go-to desserts when I have guests.

For the filling, take 2 cups of whole milk ricotta and add 1/4 cup of 10x powdered sugar, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons of vanilla. If you like, you can add some orange peel and some triple sec to make this a citrusy treat. Spoon the filling into a won ton wrapper like you did the raviolis, and fry them lightly in a skillet of butter (real butter - this is dessert, folks!). To serve, I like to lean one ravioli onto a scoop of ice cream and either shake a little powdered sugar over the top or drizzle with a little maple syrup.

If there is one thing that I hope you come away with from these last two entries, it's that you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun and flavor. If you ask me, good food and good friends are all we need to have a fabulous party, no matter what the economic times!

Salute!

Chef Louie hosts Good Day Food & Wine, a nationally syndicated weekend radio show. A culinary veteran, Chef Louie pledges to empower you in the kitchen and supermarket, and help you eat better, entertain better and keep more of that hard-earned money close to home. Sign up for his free e-newsletter here.

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