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Can I prepare ravioli ahead of time?

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Hi everyone. I am having a dinner party to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this coming Saturday. I would like to make as much ahead as possible and have planned a menu which is allowing me to do that with several of the courses. However, I am uncertain how to make ahead the pasta course, or if I even can do this.

I am having four different stuffed pastas:

Lobster Ravioli in Pink Sauce
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
Gorgonzola-Walnut Ravioli with Butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Artichoke Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce

The sauces will be relatively easy to prepare (the Pink Sauce is basically fresh tomatoes and basil with cream which I plan to make the previous evening and gently rewarm; the tomato-cream sauce can be mostly prepared ahead to rewarming and adding the cream; and the butter sauces are simple enough to make just before serving).

What I am wondering is, can I cook the pastas ahead of time, brush with butter (to prevent sticking), then refrigerate in oven-proof dishes? I could then rewarm the pasta, add the sauces, and serve. OR would it be possible to take this a step further and make the sauces (any? all?) the night before and refrigerate the pastas with the prepared sauces then just pop the dishes into the oven to rewarm the next evening?

And, on a related note, I wonder if the Parmigiano-Reggiano is an appropriate chese to serve with the gorgonzola? Would anyone suggest a better pairing?

I would appreciate any advice about this (but please don't say to cut down the pasta choices-- it's what my husband asked for!) :)

THANK YOU!

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  1. Good Lord, woman! This is just the pasta course! You must post the entire menu. How many in the dinner party? And are you renting your children and the children of friends for serving? This is your anniversary party as well.

    Regarding the pasta. You can make the ravioli ahead. I would undercook by a minute or two, toss with olive oil. Reheat in a pot of boiling water until finished. Perhaps take one or two of each ravioli in the morning of the party, to a boil test to see how long it takes to get to where you want each one to be.

    Sounds like you're having two pink sauces. The lobster needs the pink sauce, so how about just using plain tomato sauce with the artichokes. The gorgonzola has such a pronounced flavor, I'd omit the Parm. I'm assuming there's cheese in the filling. You have plenty of cheese.

    I'm curious as to your presentation -- are you serving one of each ravioli lined up on a rectangular plate or on a round diiner plate? You should take pictures and post.

    Happy silver anniversary!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nemo

      Do you know if this will work the same if I sub in "wonton wraps" and make them ahead of
      time? Preparing for 20 people; 1 lobster/cheese and 1 veggie with two new saces I am testing out as well

    2. I agree with Nemo--if this is just the pasta course, I'd love to see the whole menu. You're going to be busy.

      As cooking fresh pasta goes, it's so quick that I wouldn't bother precooking it (and you chance them sticking). You can make them early, put single layer on cookie sheet covered w/ plastic but don't let them touch. If you want to do it days before, put the cookie sheet in the freezer and when it's frozen, remove and put in container/ziplock bag). Just keep a couple of pots of simmering water on the stove for when it's time to cook. I would not cook and mix the sauce with the pasta the night before. It could stick and become one big mess plus the sauce will be dry.

      1. The vegetarian ones will freeze well, especially if the pasta is an egg pasta. You can also refrigerate them, but make sure to put the pasta on a cotton towel, this keeps the filling from making the pasta soggy on the bottom.

        1. Freeze uncooked; toss in a BIG pot of bioling water without thawing before serving.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Ditto for this method.

          2. Thanks for the responses!

            I should have been a little more clear. The ravioli and tortellini are already made and frozen. I just don't know if I can cook them ahead to save some time, or if I should just do it before serving (and drink mostly the non-alcoholic punch until I'm done with the boiling water!).

            I was also thinking that I may be able to do it earlier in the day, and mix with the sauces, then reheat just before serving. I am worried about the pasta absorbing the sauce too much, in that case.

            Nemo and chowser, the pasta is actually the main course, appetizers and soup before, bread and salad with, and an incredible-smellin' chocolate cake (I just made it) after. No help in serving, though, I'm going to offer it buffet-style and serve the pastas so the guests can tell me what varieties they would like. Here's the menu:

            Cocktails
            Sparkling Citrus Punch
            Ruby Sippers
            Lucy's Sidecar

            Appetizers
            Assorted Crackers with
            Dutch Gouda with Walnuts
            Cranberry Chevre
            Pesto-Dried Tomato Torta
            Tuscan Cheddar

            Spinach Dip with Crudités
            Mini Crabcakes
            Mushroom Turnovers

            First Course
            Roasted Pear & Butternut Squash Soup w/ Gorgonzola

            Main Course
            Lobster Ravioli in Pink Sauce
            Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
            Gorgonzola-Walnut Ravioli with Butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano
            Artichoke Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce

            Salad & Bread
            Mixed Field Greens with Pear-Cranberry Vinaigrette and Cranberry Chevre crumbles
            Ciabatta

            Dessert
            Dark Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Mousseline
            Champagne

            It looks confusing, but I can't figure out how to italicize or underline. I apologize.

            A lot of this is make-ahead (such as the cake which is cooling now, to be frozen until Saturday morning) or quick-to-put together.

            We first had thought of having this catered, or even having it at a restaurant, but I have problems with giving up total control of a situation... ;)

            2 Replies
            1. re: VictoriaL

              I don't think the ravioli would be good cooked ahead of time. Just do it before serving; they won't take too long. (Do a practice plate to see how long to cook.)

              1. re: VictoriaL

                Don't cook them ahead of time and don't cook and mix with the sauce because you're right, they will absorb the sauce and could stick to each other. Just have a four pots of simmering water ready to go. Bring to a boil and before you serve the soup, put the ravioli in so they're ready to go after people are done with the soup. You could do a baked ravioli or tortellini to make things easier on yourself.

              2. Don't cook ahead of time. The flavour and texture you will sacrifice won't be worth the little time it takes. RE: Gorgonzola - Parm Reggiano is not a good pairing. I would do a lighter cream sauce with some Borgonzola melted into it. You get a hint of the same flavour but not overwhelming.

                1 Reply
                1. re: itryalot

                  Absolutely agree.

                2. Lobster Ravioli in Pink Sauce
                  Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
                  Gorgonzola-Walnut Ravioli with Butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano (edit: i agree with jaykayen about the cream sauce for this...)
                  Artichoke Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce

                  awesome selection! any recipe references for us out here in cyber-world drooling over this?

                  btw, i'm in the "don't cook in advance" camp.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: alkapal

                    splash some ouzo in that lobster ravioli pink sauce.

                  2. No to the Parm with gorgonzola ravioli. Gorgonzola is already strong, you don't want it to compete. Cream is the usual pairing.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: jaykayen

                      I appreciate your input so much, everyone! My decision has been made-- boil the pasta just before serving (not ahead of time). And no to the PR with the gorgonzola ravioli. Perhaps I will take the cream from the tomato cream sauce (I think that the artichoke tortellini can handle a plain, although really good, tomato sauce) and toss it into the butter for the gorgonzola ravioli. I don't want to have too many butter sauces, or too many cream sauces, but this makes sense.

                      Alkapal, ouzo in the pink sauce... now that's a nice touch-- thanks!

                      Actually, there are no recipes for the sauces and the ravioli/ tortellini are purchased! Up until 2 weeks ago I was going to make lobster ravioli and veggie-filled tortellini. Then I was in a little Italian store and saw these wonderful stuffed pastas, made locally. DH was with me and encouraged me to buy this time, rather than make from scratch. Although a couple of people behind the counter gave these ravioli high praise, some customers standing nearby did also, so I bought them. We shall see...

                      But if there are any other recipes you may want, please let me know and I'll do my best to post them (but after this coming weekend!).

                      Again, thank you all so much for your help with this! :)

                      1. re: VictoriaL

                        Sometimes simpler is better when it comes to great fresh made pasta. Have you considered a pomodoro using just slightly warmed olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, with chopped fresh tomatoes (if you can get good ones) maybe with the tortellini? YOu could also leave out tomatoes altogether and use garlic olive oil. You already have the pink sauce which sounds like a tomato cream sauce.

                        1. re: chowser

                          chowser, you are right, maybe just toss that artichoke tortellini in an olive oil infused with garlic and fennel seed. serve with garlic and fennel seeds removed, and maybe shaved fennel and a wee bit of parm shaved on top. (i love that combo).

                          1. re: alkapal

                            That sounds good, and a way to get in the PR w/out the gorgonzola. I love the synergy on the board (lol, and a good way to add that anise licorice flavor to another thread...:-) ).

                            1. re: chowser

                              yeah, you go chowser!

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Wow, I had never thought of the fennel & garlic combo! Okay, I now have to concentrate on the table centerpiece and other decorations, so the menu is finalized. But since I love anise I will keep this in mind for, perhaps, Christmas?!
                                :)

                    2. Take the pasta to 3/4 way done. Rinse w/ cold water, drain well, toss with Evoo, and store in a colander if possible. Prior to service heat the sauces then run hot water over the pasta (in the colander). The hot water will "release" the ravioli. Place directly into hot sauces, stir to mix, cover and turn off the heat. Your ravioli will be hot, and at the perfect doneness in 10 minutes.