How to Turn Frozen Ravioli into Healthy 20-Minute Weeknight Dinners
Follow this simple formula for turning store-bought ravioli into quick and healthy weeknight meals.
In a pinch, frozen ravioli and a jar of pasta sauce are all you really need to get dinner on the table fast. But there's a whole lot more you can do with frozen ravioli, even on the busiest weeknights. This easy dinner formula combines premade ravioli with super-simple ingredients to help you get a healthy meal on the table in no time. Create your own combination using the ingredients you have on hand or follow one of our tasty 20-minute recipe ideas that transform store-bought ravioli into a dinner that's anything but boring.
How to Pick the Healthiest Frozen Ravioli
Nowadays, you can find more than just the standard cheese ravioli in the freezer aisle. Options like butternut squash ravioli, mushroom ravioli and roasted veggie ravioli offer tasty new ways to enjoy a classic dish. To find the healthiest frozen or refrigerated ravioli, scan the ingredient list and opt for brands with ingredients you recognize (like flour, egg, cheese, veggies and herbs). Look for options containing no more than 300 mg sodium per serving, and consider whole-wheat varieties, if available. Here we show you how to jazz up ravioli, so you can skip those varieties that already include sauces, which are often too high in sodium.
How to Turn Frozen Ravioli into a Quick & Healthy Weeknight Meal
In about the time it takes to boil water for the ravioli, you can easily prepare a few other ingredients to build a healthy, balanced meal. Read through the formula to create a no-recipe-needed meal and keep scrolling to see the easy and delicious recipe ideas we came up with following this formula.
1. Aim to include at least a couple of vegetables
Ravioli is the perfect blank slate for adding color, texture and nutrients with assorted vegetables. Keep things easy and go for preprepped ingredients to cut down on the total time it takes to make your meal. Add in sliced mushrooms and peppers, fold in sautéed greens or toss leftover roasted or grilled vegetables in with jarred marinara sauce or pesto. Our Butternut Squash Ravioli with Chicken Sausage & Kale recipe uses a whole 6 cups of kale to create a balanced dinner.
2. Add an extra source of protein
While ravioli can be hearty enough to stand on its own, adding an additional source of protein ups the satiety factor. Ground beef or turkey cooks quickly and bulks up a tomato-based sauce-or keep things vegetarian with a can of white beans, like we did in the Mediterranean Ravioli with Artichokes & Olives recipe. Leftover chopped chicken, shredded roast beef or pork, or sliced precooked chicken sausages work well too.
3. Keep sauces simple
Certain varieties of frozen ravioli, like spinach or butternut squash, are full of flavor on their own. Opt to keep things simple by tossing them in olive oil with sautéed vegetables and herbs. Jarred marinara, canned crushed tomatoes or store-bought pesto pair well with a traditional cheese ravioli. Our Pesto Ravioli with Spinach & Tomatoes recipe does a good job of keeping things simple while not skimping on flavor.
4. Finish with flavor enhancers
Fold in fresh herbs like chopped basil or parsley just before serving to brighten up any dish, or use a combination of dried herbs you have on hand in your pantry to infuse flavor. While tomato-based sauces have enough acidity on their own, adding a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to a sauce can really amp up the flavor-our Mushroom Ravioli & Chicken Piccata does this perfectly. And you can't really go wrong with cheese. A little grated Parmesan pairs well with nearly all ravioli and sauce combinations.
Delicious 20-Minute Recipes That Use Frozen Ravioli
These creative recipe ideas will show you how to amp up frozen ravioli and still get a healthy meal on the table in 20 minutes or less.
Take advantage of the big flavor (and convenience) of a few special pantry items, like sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives, to elevate store-bought spinach ravioli into a weekend-worthy meal in just 15 minutes.
Make it yourself: Prepare your spinach and ricotta ravioli according to package directions. White it cooks, sauté artichoke hearts and a can of white beans in the oil from a jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes until heated through. Fold in cooked ravioli, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh basil and you're good to go. Opt for a box of frozen artichoke hearts rather than canned artichokes, as the frozen option is much lower in sodium. Just be sure to defrost them ahead of time to keep this meal quick.
Move over marinara. This zero-prep Caprese-inspired ravioli may be your new weeknight pasta go-to. Did we mention it calls for just five ingredients?
Make it yourself: Prepare your frozen or refrigerated cheese ravioli according to package directions. Sauté a pint of grape tomatoes in olive oil until they begin to burst, then stir in baby spinach and cook until it just wilts. Toss in the cooked ravioli along with store-bought pesto and dinner is done.
This 20-minute skillet ravioli lasagna hack is the ultimate weeknight comfort food, no layering or mixing bowls required.
Make it yourself: Prepare your frozen or refrigerated cheese ravioli according to package directions. Sauté a pound of ground beef or turkey along with dried oregano and garlic powder, then mix in a can of crushed tomatoes and freshly chopped basil. Fold in the cooked ravioli and fresh mozzarella balls, then broil for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese melts.
We're doubling down on the mushrooms and making good use of leftover (or rotisserie) chicken breast in this quick spin on the classic chicken piccata.
Make it yourself: Prepare your frozen or refrigerated mushroom ravioli according to package directions. Sauté sliced mushrooms in a combo of olive oil and butter until tender. Season with salt and pepper and add in minced garlic cloves and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Add chicken stock to the pan to scrape up any brown bits (which help to intensify the flavor), then stir in fresh lemon juice and capers. Fold in the cooked ravioli, your leftover sliced chicken breast, and chopped parsley and grated Parmesan.
What's the secret to making store-bought butternut squash ravioli even more delicious? Sautéed apple-chicken sausage, tender greens, lots of caramelized onions and a splash of cider vinegar.
Make it yourself: Prepare your frozen or refrigerated butternut squash ravioli according to package directions. Sauté sliced apple-flavored chicken sausages in a little olive oil and set aside. Cook sliced red onions in a combo of olive oil and butter until they're caramelized. Add a little water to the pan to scrape up any brown bits. Stir in chopped kale and cover and cook until it wilts, about 4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and a splash of cider vinegar. Toss the cooked ravioli with the sausage and fold in the onions and kale.