In my opinion, Ravioli is one of the best and most versatile Italian pasta dishes with deliciousness inside, such as meat, cheese, or vegetables. Deciding what to serve with Ravioli might seem daunting, but you can create a perfect dinner accompaniment with a few guidelines.
As a versatile dish, Ravioli pairs well with different side dishes, sauces, and drinks. The key to an excellent plate of Ravioli is finding the right combination of flavors and textures that complement the pasta and its filling.
When selecting side dishes for ravioli, you can consider what will pair well with the Ravioli’s filling and the type of sauce you’ve put on top. For example, if you’ve got a basic meat-filled ravioli, you may want to keep it simple and pair it with a nice salad, like a Caprese salad, or some other classic light Italian dishes.
Almost anything will work well if you’ve gone for a hybrid, such as spinach, ricotta, and pork filling in the Ravioli. And that’s the trick to enjoying Ravioli as a great side dish is all about choosing what you love. Even a creamy polenta may be the ideal choice for you.
Of course, there are some more well-known sides like garlic bread or bruschetta. We’re going to explore the fundamentals of ravioli and help give you some ideas on how to create a balanced and delightful dining experience.
- Select side dishes that complement the Ravioli’s filling
- Consider lighter sides for meat or seafood-based ravioli and bolder sides for vegetable or cheese-filled pasta
- Experiment with different sauces, toppings, and beverages to create a well-rounded ravioli dining experience
Fundamentals of Ravioli Pairing
Understanding Ravioli Types
Knowing the different types of Ravioli available is essential when planning a ravioli menu. Ravioli is a type of pasta with some filling in between two layers of pasta sheets. They come in several varieties based on their fillings, such as cheese, meat, or vegetable. Common types include:
- Cheese ravioli: filled with cheeses like ricotta, mozzarella, or parmesan
- Meat ravioli: containing ground meats like beef or pork and even seafood like lobster or fish
- Vegetable ravioli: filled with vegetables like spinach, mushroom, or pumpkin
- Hybrid ravioli: filled with a combination of any of the above
Choosing Complementary Flavors
When deciding what to serve with your Ravioli, consider the type of Ravioli and any accompanying sauce. For example, a rich and creamy Alfredo sauce may pair well with a lighter salad, whereas a robust tomato sauce might work well with a heartier side like creamy polenta. Some solid pairings to consider are:
- Cheese Ravioli: Serve with a fresh salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables to balance the richness of the cheese.
- Meat Ravioli: Pair with steamed or roasted vegetables, crusty bread, or Italian or sourdough bread to contrast the hearty meat filling.
- Vegetable Ravioli: Complement the veggie flavors with a warm grain salad, garlic bread, or a simple tomato sauce.
Best Side Dishes for Ravioli
Salads and Vegetables
A refreshing salad is a great way to complement Ravioli on your dinner table. A simple spring salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette can be the perfect side dish. If you want to try something different, you can’t go wrong with a Caprese salad. Ensure you use only the most delicious ripe tomatoes with fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil drizzled with a balsamic glaze. This is the stuff that Italian food dreams are made of.
For a heartier vegetable option, consider oven-roasted vegetables. Season your favorite veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, and some cherry tomatoes with olive oil, with a pinch of salt and pepper, roasted in the oven until tender.
Parmesan green beans are also a delicious side dish to serve with Ravioli. Toss green beans with olive oil, garlic, and grated Parmesan cheese, then roast until crispy. There’s also nothing wrong with throwing together a Caesar salad. Still, my favorite dish is Fratelli, which is like zucchini fritters, simply the best little fried treats you can add to any Italian meal.
No Italian meal would be complete without bread selections. A classic accompaniment to Ravioli is garlic bread. Slice a loaf of Italian bread, pane di casa, or some Nonna’s bread from your local bakery, made fresh, and spread it with a mixture of butter, minced garlic, and parsley. Toast it in the oven until golden and fragrant.
Another fantastic bread choice is focaccia. This soft, pillowy bread is perfect for soaking up all the delicious sauce from your ravioli dish; this can, be achieved with any type of bread you like.
You also can’t disappoint anyone with a nicely made bruschetta with a crispy outside and softer centered texture, along with juicy diced tomatoes with onions and olive oil drizzled on top. There are different ways to make bruschetta, but I feel simple is best.
Try serving cheesy breadsticks to add a unique twist to your bread offerings. Use pizza dough or prepared breadstick dough, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with a blend of Italian cheeses, like mozzarella or parmesan. Bake until bubbly and golden brown. These cheesy breadsticks can be an exciting addition to your ravioli dinner table.
The best side dishes for ravioli are the ones that suit your preferences and complement the flavors of your main dish. You can get creative, but I personally like to keep it Italian with what I choose.
Who said you have to stop at a main course? This is the best part about Italian food; you can pair whatever you want with each meal. For example, a real classic dish my family would always make as a second course would be chicken Cotolette; this is essentially the Italian version of chicken schnitzel and can be made with pork or veal. On top of this, we also love a good eggplant parmigiana, or as we call it, parmigiana di Melanzane.
Another absolute favorite of mine would be a veal dish; this can be either Veal Campagnola, Veal Parmigiana, or Veal Piccata; nothing tops off a plate of Ravioli like having a bit of veal and cheese or piccata. Bellissimo!
It’s probably not a good idea to pair Ravioli with another pasta, but adding vegetarian or meat dishes to the ravioli main course will always work well. I would also find it a bit strange to add in a pizza, but if you really love it and have a way to make some beautiful artisan wood-fired pizzas at home, this could be a fantastic option if it’s done right.
No list of Italian side dishes is complete without mentioning the legendary antipasto. This is usually a plate filled with the finest Italian meats such as pancetta, prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, and other cheese and some Italian cherry tomatoes or ricotta.
The possibilities are endless and impressive, to say the least; you can go wild here and include anything you like. This simple dish can go a long way to introducing the main dish.
Sauces and Toppings
Classic Tomato and Marinara Sauces
Tomato sauces can transform Ravioli into a flavorful and satisfying dish. A simple yet delicious option is a marinara sauce with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and a blend of Italian herbs. This classic pairing works particularly well with anything from cheese ravioli to meat and vegetarian fillings, as the fresh, tangy taste of the marinara complements the rich, creamy ricotta cheese filling.
Another popular variation worth trying is a slow-cooked tomato sauce, where ripe tomatoes are simmered with aromatic herbs, spices, and a little wine for a customizable, well-rounded flavor. Adjust the ingredients to suit you and match your preferred ravioli filling. Cheese, mushroom, beef, or even lobster ravioli all pair nicely with a savory tomato sauce.
And you can’t write up an Italian pasta article without mentioning the legendary bolognese sauce. Using any of your favorite types of meat, ground up and cooked slowly in your freshly made tomato sauce, this is the stuff that would make Nonna and Nonno proud.
These zestful sauces stand out even more when sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The slight saltiness of the cheese complements the prodigious flavors, leaving you with an appetizing and tasty dish.
Cream and Cheese Sauce
For those who enjoy rich, creamy dishes, cheese-based sauces on your Ravioli will satisfy your cravings. One popular option is a creamy Alfredo sauce. This indulgent sauce goes well with a more subtle ravioli filling, such as cheese or mushroom, and allows the textures and flavors to create a harmonious balance in your dish.
Another great option to try is a cheese and tomato sauce. Combining savory tomato sauce with a blend of creamy cheeses gives you a velvety sauce that works well with all types of Ravioli, from cheese to meat-filled ones. Don’t forget; you can always add some parmesan or pecorino cheese on top of your Ravioli.
Butter and Oil-Based Sauces
If you prefer lighter, more delicate flavors, butter, and oil-based sauces might suit your taste. For example, brown butter sauce offers nutty, aromatic notes that enhance the flavors of your Ravioli. Heat some butter over medium-low heat until it turns golden brown and emits a tempting, rich scent to achieve this.
A drizzle of olive oil can be effortlessly spruced up with fresh herbs, garlic, and chili flakes. This simple, versatile topping pairs well with a wide variety of ravioli fillings and is particularly suitable for those who enjoy a more even-handed yet refreshing dish.
Another sauce that would work very well would be aglio olio; mix in some garlic, scallions, and even some chili, and you’ll have something exceptional to serve your Ravioli in.
Whichever sauce or topping you decide on, the key is to find the perfect balance of flavors and textures that best satisfies your taste buds while complementing your choice of ravioli filling.
Perfect Beverage Pairings
When pairing wine with Ravioli, your choices can greatly enhance your dining experience. White wine is often an excellent option for a classic and easy way to accompany your dish.
Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc pairs well with rich fillings like butternut squash or pumpkin. If you’re serving Ravioli with tomato-based sauces, a red wine such as a light Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, or smooth Montepulciano will complement the dish perfectly.
If you prefer a non-alcoholic beverage to enjoy with your Ravioli, there are still plenty of enjoyable options. A refreshing option is a glass of sparkling water with a lemon or lime wedge, which can cleanse the palate between bites. For a more decadent option that complements the flavors in your dish, consider a chilled sparkling apple cider.
You can also make delightful homemade Italian sodas by mixing flavored syrups with club soda and ice.
These beverage pairings can elevate your ravioli experience and make it even more memorable. Remember, there’s no right or wrong choice when pairing your food–as long as you enjoy it, that’s what matters most.
Preparing Your Ravioli Dinner
When planning a ravioli dinner, setting the right atmosphere is crucial. Choose table settings and decorations that complement the Italian theme. Use candles or warm lighting to create a cozy, intimate feel.
You can play Italian music in the background to create a pleasant, calming ambiance for your dinner party. But in true Italian style, the best way to create proper ambiance is by having your family around the table, sharing the Ravioli with the closest people to you, and for added effect, bring Nonna and Nonno and that really awesome Zio that everyone loves.
Serving and Presentation Tips
Now let’s look at a few tips for serving and presenting a ravioli dinner. Firstly, you should cook your homemade ravioli into al dente pasta squares, meaning the pasta squares should be tender but slightly firm. This provides a great, high-quality dish for your guests at your dinner party.
When serving Ravioli, presentation is key. Try using a large, shallow bowl or a pasta plate to prevent the Ravioli from stacking on top of each other. This lets your guests see each pasta square and appreciate the homemade effort you’ve put in.
Drizzle sauce over the ravioli, but avoid drowning the pasta in too much sauce (unless the person you’re serving really loves the sauce). You want your guests to taste the delicious filling inside each pasta square.
Finally, be mindful of portion sizes when dishing out the Ravioli. Remember that some guests may want seconds, or they may want to try a variety of side dishes. Always have extra Ravioli and sauce available for those who may want additional helpings.
And if you want an authentic experience, every time you see their plate almost empty, put some more Ravioli in it, or start presenting them with side dishes, just like Nonna would.
With my guide, you can easily create a memorable and delicious ravioli dinner for your guests, leaving them satisfied and impressed with your culinary skills.
Other Ravioli Considerations
Dietary Preference Adaptations
If you’re on a diet for any reason, don’t worry! There are ways to adapt ravioli sides to fit your needs. You can use vegetables like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes as a flavorful side dish for a vegetarian option.
If you prefer vegan dishes, try substituting feta or mozzarella cheese with nut-based cheese and using vegetable oil instead of butter. Additionally, gluten-free diners can opt for alternatives like polenta or use gluten-free Italian bread.
Cooking Tips and Tricks
Adding an extra layer of flavor is always welcome in Italian cuisine, consider using balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, or pine nuts. These ingredients can be great additions to salads or vegetable dishes and pair well with Italian cuisine. Don’t be afraid to experiment with seasonings like black pepper and red pepper flakes to find the perfect pairing.
When cooking side dishes like butternut squash ravioli or Brussels sprouts, it’s a good idea to bake or roast them to bring out their natural sweetness. This complements the flavors of the Ravioli and creates a delicious contrast. For vegetables like snap peas and cipollini onions, you can saute them in a small amount of olive oil to achieve a tender-crisp texture.
If you’re a fan of creamy sauces, pairing your Ravioli with a cream sauce or a rich, white wine-based sauce is an excellent choice. Remember that a little goes a long way, so don’t drown the Ravioli; use enough to coat the pasta.
Make homemade elements like garlic bread and croutons to elevate your ravioli side dishes. Italian bread or sourdough rolls can be transformed into garlic bread by brushing them with garlic butter and toasting them in the oven.
For croutons, simply cube bread, toss with olive oil and bake until crispy. These homemade touches significantly impact and show your love for Italian cooking.
Another way to make your side dishes stand out is by using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Shopping at local farmer’s markets or the produce section of your grocery store ensures you get the freshest and most flavorful ingredients possible. This can make all the difference in your ravioli side dishes’ final taste and presentation.
You might have encountered a thousand different ways to serve ravioli in your journey to find the perfect accompaniments. I’ve shared what I believe are the most delicious side dishes for your ravioli dinner.
Pairing ravioli with garlic bread, bruschetta, or easy Italian bread is a classic choice for a delightful and authentic Italian meal. Dipping the bread into the delicious pasta sauce to clean up your plate makes your meal even more enjoyable.
When thinking about a fresh and light option, serving your Ravioli with a Caesar salad or a simple kale salad with parmesan can be a great way to balance the heavier pasta dish.
If you’re in the mood for more substantial accompaniments, consider adding sides like broccoli rabe, Florentine steak, and Italian chicken schnitzel (Cotolette) to your ravioli dinner. Vegetable-based choices like Fratelli (zucchini fritters) or a Caprese salad can complement your Ravioli beautifully.
By including some of these side dishes and sauce options with your Ravioli, you can easily create a satisfying and well-rounded dining experience for you and your guests. The key is to choose the sides that you like best; while things might ‘pair well’ on paper, the only thing that really matters is what you like; therefore, you’ll get the most enjoyment out of it. Grazie!