A Taste of Italy: Buitoni Pasta Party

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on May 18, 2010

in Baking, chicken/turkey, contest/giveaway, family, friends, Italian, simple recipe

About a month ago, FoodBuzz sent out an email asking for interested Featured Publishers to submit a proposal to host a Buitoni Riserva Pasta Party. On a whim, I submitted a proposal that read:

My sister is obsessed with all things Italy, and has been since she was a little girl. I can remember her being about 8 years old and requesting a “Pictures of Tuscany” calendar for her Hanukkah gift. Once she graduated high school, she and my mom and stepdad took a two-week tour of Italy, and have raved ever since about how amazing the food was there, and how there’s not much here in Chicago that rivals it. I’d love to host my sister and her boyfriend, another blogger friend, and my best friend and her family over for a Buitoni pasta party to prove to my sister that there IS good Italian food in Chicago…right at my house! This would be particularly fun as my sister and her boyfriend both work in the Chicago restaurant industry, and always look forward to a home-cooked meal outside of their restaurant kitchens.

I never thought it would get accepted, but lo and behold, a couple weeks later, there was the congratulations email! I had been selected to be one of 10 bloggers to host a Buitoni pasta party! Next thing I knew, I had received coupons for Buitoni pasta, and I began planning my menu and wine pairings…particularly interesting because I know next to nothing about wine!

I quickly selected the Buitoni Riserva pastas I’d be using:

bruitoni_jpg.jpg Riserva_Chkn_4Chees_Rav.jpgwild_mushroom_agnolotti.jpg

The Three-Cheese tortellini were a must, as I had to make a batch of my favorite bolognese sauce and it would be a perfect way to feature the deliciousness that is that sauce. I had to try the Chicken and Four Cheese Ravioli since it sounded delicious, and I also knew that the Wild Mushroom Agniolotti were delicious, as I’d tried them before. I knew Lizz would love them too, as she loves everything mushroom.

My mom helped me brainstorm some sauce ideas for each of these lovely pastas, and we came up with some combinations that were sure to please, and yet were easy enough to pull off on a Tuesday night. Why a Tuesday? Well, it’s the only day that my sister is guaranteed to have off! Luckily, my blogger friend, none other than Jenn from EatingBender, as well as Lizz and Skylar were able to make it as well!

I selected my wines based on a very scientific method: Cute labels and fun names, as well as one suggestion from my mom.

First, a bold merlot to go along with the bolognese sauce, since it has about a bottle of wine in it.

IMG_0935

Yes, it’s called Mad Housewife… I’m choosing to think she’s more mad in the “crazy” sense than in the angry sense. It was quite delicious and very full-bodied. It meshed with the sauce very well.

IMG_0955

I chose to make a light sauce for the chicken ravioli out of sauteed roasted red peppers, baby portabella mushrooms, and thinly sliced chicken sausage. Since there was chicken involved, I went with my mom’s suggestion of a Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc to complement the lighter flavors.

IMG_0950

Oddly enough, the combination worked. I say oddly enough because, like I said, I know NOTHING about wine! The pasta was a hit as well, and the creamy cheese and delicate chicken flavors meshed well with the roasted red peppers and sausage.

IMG_0942

The piece de resistance, in my opinion, was the wild mushroom agniolotti paired with this rich, sweet, and delicious Cupcake Vineyard Malbec. And, it was purchased simply because of the name and label.

IMG_0936

I made a brown butter, sage, and garlic clove sauce to top the agniolotti, put the whole thing on top of some fresh organic arugula, then topped it with some chiffonade fresh sage.

IMG_0960

I set the table with flowers, the wine bottles, my new printed tablecloth, our new wedding wine glasses, and mini Acqua Panna.

IMG_0933

A quick appetizer was enjoyed of a lovely steamed artichoke and melted butter… it was supposed to be 3 artichokes for everyone to share, but the darn things didn’t stay fresh, so I only had one.

IMG_0929

As an additional option, we got some Buitoni pesto to top the cheese tortellini. I went a little creative and heated it up in our fondue pot.

IMG_0958

Everyone truly enjoyed the rich flavors of all the Buitoni pastas, as well as the sauces I chose to pair them with. Luckily, the recipes for each sauce were simple: slowly melted butter with a crushed clove of garlic and a few leaves of sage, slowly browned over a low heat for the mushroom agniolotti; thinly sliced chicken sausage, diced roasted red peppers, sliced baby portabella mushrooms, and a bit of olive oil sauteed together for the Four Cheese Chicken Ravioli.

Finally, (my regular readers knew this was coming) I made some tiramisu cupcakes for dessert. I made a simple genoise cake into small cupcakes, then topped them with a liquour/coffee/sugar mixture, and then a whipped cream and marscapone frosting. They rocked!

IMG_0923

IMG_0925

To review:

I used these pastas:

bruitoni_jpg.jpg Riserva_Chkn_4Chees_Rav.jpgwild_mushroom_agnolotti.jpg

And served these wines:

IMG_0951

And this lovely Italian flat water:

IMG_0938

Thank you so much Buitoni and FoodBuzz for the chance to host this wonderful dinner for my closest friends and family! Everyone LOVED the food, and my sister was very appreciative! I’m honored to have been chosen for this experience of cooking for so many people… it’s something I’d love to do again! The experience helped me realize that I’m really capable of entertaining. I’m just not so good at cleaning up after myself!

IMG_0963

From left: My sister Leigh, her boyfriend Jared, Jenn from EatingBender, Skylar, and Lizz

In all, a wonderful night. I’m going to finish my wine and go to bed…

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna May 18, 2010 at 10:39 PM

WOW! That looks FABULOUS! And what fun, too! Great job, Mara!

Reply

Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) May 18, 2010 at 10:47 PM

Everything looks incredibly delicious and flavorful. I am so impressed that you pulled this off on a week night!
.-= Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat)´s last blog ..Santa Monica Classic 5k! =-.

Reply

Lin May 18, 2010 at 10:48 PM

I can only imagine how heavenly your kitchen must have smelled while you were cooking! I choose wines based on the label and sometimes the shape too! When I actually need to impress someone, I always ask the store clerk what’s good :-P.
.-= Lin´s last blog ..Wishbone’s Revenge + Cute Yoga Clothes =-.

Reply

Jenn (eating bender) May 18, 2010 at 10:57 PM

YAY! This was a ridiculously good meal. You really outdid yourself – and the wine pairing were so awesome, too! I truly love and am inspired by your creativity in the kitchen, Mara.

Plus, that tiramisu cupcake? DAMNNN…

Good stuff :) So glad I got to see you and meet Leigh, Jared, Lizz and, of course, Skylar!
.-= Jenn (eating bender)´s last blog ..10K + 6.5 Years + 5 Months = Oh My! =-.

Reply

Marianne May 19, 2010 at 12:01 AM

What a fun evening! I’m totally like you when picking wines – does it have a clever name or cool bottle? And is it from BC? Then I’ll buy it!

If only Foodbuzz could put together opportunities like this for their non-US featured publishers. Ah well, I’ll live vicariously through you instead :D
.-= Marianne´s last blog ..Mermaid Eyes =-.

Reply

Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) May 19, 2010 at 2:05 AM

Bellissimo! Everything looks absolutely delicious. Ravioli is one of my favorite foods of all time. Growing up in an Italian household, I can appreciate a pasta dinner made with love. :)

Those cupcakes… OMG! Before I even scrolled down, I had a sneaking suspicion. Perfect!

Jenn
.-= Jenn (Jenn’s Menu and Lifestyle Blog)´s last blog ..Nostalgia =-.

Reply

glidingcalm May 19, 2010 at 2:13 AM

ahhhhhhhhhhhhh beautiful meal!!! and amazing company!!!!!!!!!!
kinda jeals!!!
i love your table setting too!!!

now im craving some pasta!
.-= glidingcalm´s last blog ..Mama GC’s Surprise Birthday! =-.

Reply

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is May 19, 2010 at 5:44 AM

Invite me next time! Hahaha it looks delicious. Your cupcakes are always so perfect. :)
.-= Jessica @ How Sweet It Is´s last blog ..Fitness Kick Start: Feeling Fabulous Leg Workout. =-.

Reply

mom May 19, 2010 at 7:04 AM

fabuloso…proud of you!

Reply

Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg May 19, 2010 at 7:39 AM

I love, love, love your tablecloth!!! And this meal looks awesome, girl!

Reply

brandi May 19, 2010 at 7:58 AM

Congrats on being chosen! The meal looks like it turned out awesome :)

And I LOVE that tablecloth!

Reply

Victoria May 19, 2010 at 8:06 AM

That looks like such a fun night Mara! I love having people over for dinner. I’m glad everyone enjoyed it! Also, I love that Cupcake Malbec. It’s one of my favorites.
.-= Victoria´s last blog ..A Soup Kind of Day =-.

Reply

Melleah May 19, 2010 at 9:12 AM

YUM! Everything looks delicious! And that is a very cool tablecloth-where did you get it?

Reply

Mara @ What's For Dinner? May 19, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Target!! I’m obsessed with it :)

Reply

Rose May 19, 2010 at 9:28 AM

What an exciting event – congrats on being selected!

Reply

Ally@Sweet & Savory May 19, 2010 at 11:28 AM

What fun! I also applied for this…but sadly didn’t get picked;( Maybe next time? Your sauces sound so wonderful!
.-= Ally@Sweet & Savory´s last blog ..Tips on Healthy Snack Prep =-.

Reply

valen May 19, 2010 at 10:02 PM

I love filled pastas! I have always wanted to try this pasta but they don’t sell it where I live. Gosh, everything looks so delicious!

Reply

Biz May 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM

Everything looks wonderful Mara – great job!
.-= Biz´s last blog ..I have sea salt! =-.

Reply

Rick May 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM

I would pay good money for those cupcakes.

bittersweetsugarandsarcasm.blogspot.com

Reply

Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary May 21, 2010 at 4:27 PM

The table looks beautiful and inviting! What a great pasta party! I love that idea. Maybe I’ll do that for my sister-in-laws bday celebration. She LOVES pasta and I think that’s a fun idea.

Your table cloth and flowers looks so good together. Nice work Mara!
.-= Mary @ What’s Cookin’ with Mary´s last blog ..Basic Chicken Stock =-.

Reply

Julie M. June 18, 2010 at 9:13 PM

It looks like a great party! So what’s the verdict? Did you sister enjoy the pasta as much as she did in Italy?
Julie M.´s last blog post ..Awards, a Vacation and My Very First Giveaway!

Reply

Mara @ What's For Dinner? June 18, 2010 at 9:16 PM

She did! She said she was full for a whole day!

Reply

Simply Life June 20, 2010 at 6:11 AM

wow, looks like a great meal!
Simply Life´s last blog post ..More About Me & Breakfast Sandwiches!

Reply

Frank Sauchelli June 23, 2010 at 9:48 PM

The buitoni pumpkin ravioli is divine, as is the porcini mushroom!

Reply

Previous post:

Next post: