I was recently given the opportunity to try two products from Buitoni, from their new line of premium refrigerated and frozen pastas. I might've taken a pass, but in exchange for doing a review, I get to pass on to one lucky reader two coupons, each good for one of those products, 100% free. So here's my review, with instructions at the end about how to enter for your chance to win.
My first selection was Maine Lobster Ravioli with a White Wine Butter Sauce, one of Buitoni's Complete Frozen Meals for Two. Following the directions, I let the ravioli cook for five minutes after the water began to boil, while the sauce heated in a closed plastic packet in a separate pot of water.
The directions were on the mark, as the pasta was al dente, neither hard nor mushy, with just a little bite. I've never had a particular preference among fresh, frozen or dried pasta, but this had a nice texture, neither gluey nor grainy.
Once finished, the ravioli were topped with the sauce. Unlike some frozen meals, this was a pretty decent portion for two adults; my wife and I had our fill, with enough for our seven-year-old daughter to try as well (she loved the filling but was not a fan of the sauce, by the way).
I was a little skeptical of the "Maine Lobster" claim, but the filling was quite good, with actual chunks of lobster and a definite lobster flavor. This was not just some mystery-meat filler with lobster flavor added.
The accompanying sauce tasted quite rich (although the fat content was reasonable), similar to a bechamel sauce with the addition of diced garlic. While I wouldn't say that it overpowered the ravioli, it was an unmistakable presence, with a prominent garlic aroma. Its garlic flavor was relatively mild - even delicate - but that flavor, combined with the sauce's thick consistency, made it a costar of the lobster rather than a bit player. It was a happy pairing, though, as the two worked well together, like Bogart and Bacall.
My other Buitoni offering, from their line of refrigerated pastas, was their spicy beef and sausage ravioli, which I topped with a basic red sauce. I didn't notice much difference in texture between the pasta here and in the lobster ravioli - both came out well, al dente - but the filling was mildly spicy, with a finely-ground texture and a chili-like flavor reminiscent of a frozen, spicy beef burrito. I've eaten my share of frozen burritos over the years, so I'm not complaining, but that's what it brought to mind. I could see serving this with some sharp grated cheese and a well-seasoned red sauce, or even salsa and queso fresca, with a glass of red wine, pilsner or sangria.
Both of these were tasty, but even though I like spicy food the lobster ravioli was my favorite. With a bottle of white wine, a salad and some crusty bread, it would make a good meal for two, and wouldn't be a bad choice if you wanted to come up with something quick and inexpensive for a romantic meal or to impress a date. At $10 a pop, this was actually a pretty good deal.
So that's my review. Now, if you would like a chance to win coupons for these products - or any Buitoni products from their frozen or refrigerated lines, which include a lot more than the two I've reviewed here - go to the Buitoni Masterpiece Challenge Facebook page, then leave a comment under this post (not on their Facebook page, although you can do that too) indicating that you did so. I'll select a winner at random. The winner will receive the coupons by mail, direct from Buitoni, so if you win I will need your name and mailing address.
The Challenge itself runs through March 27, so I'll run this contest for one week, until next Thursday, March 24, at 2:00 p.m. I'll announce the name of the winner shortly after that time. If you haven't already given me your email address, you'll have to do it within 24 hours after that, or I'll award it to somebody else.