Monday, September 29, 2014

Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli- Trader Joe's: Marlton, NJ

Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli- Trader Joe's: Marlton, NJ
It's officially fall, which means my pumpkin reviews have begun! I'll be mixing in a few random food items here and there, but for the next few weeks, a lot of my posts are going to be pumpkin, pumpkin spice, or Halloween related.

As a food blogger, I love trying seasonal products, but the majority of the pumpkin items on the shelves are sweets and desserts. Let me tell you, after you're 14th pumpkin spice flavored sweet in a row, you come dangerously close to ruining pumpkin sweets for yourself forever. To prevent myself from pumpkin-dessert-burnout, I'm always on the hunt for the elusive savory seasonal items, which are very few and far between. Last year I was able to find a pumpkin soup mix, a salsa, pre-made soup, ravioli, and pasta.

Although I wasn't a fan of last year's ravioli, or the one I found the year before that, I still decided to give these Trader Joe's Honey Roasted Ravioli a try.

The ravioli come in a clear plastic package with a peel-up lid, which is functional, but not entirely appealing. I feel like this label is stuck between time periods. It isn't quite retro-enough, and it's very far from being modern, but that seems to be a problem I have with a lot of the packaging designs from Trader Joe's. It's either super high-end looking, or they are stuck in this awkward, in-between, time-warp. It's not terrible, and looking at the design as a whole it's quite playful, but the strokes around the text and awkward attempt at a pumpkin-shaped barcode... it just doesn't work.
Inside, there are several ravioli, which are refrigerated instead of being frozen, so they cook up a lot faster, taste fresher, and they flop around a bit in the packaging. At first I thought the ravioli came in two totally different colors, but it turned out that all of the raviolis were two-toned. Orange on one side, and yellow on the other. That's a nice visual detail, and it makes the product itself look much more interesting on a plate than a normal ravioli.

I followed the instructions, which suggested boiling these in a bit of salted water, and since they were refrigerated, they cooked up really fast! (And they turned the water a bright yellow-orange color.) I wanted to try them plain, since I've been burned by secret dessert ravioli before, and they were (thankfully) really yummy!

Before I even ate one of the ravioli, I could smell actual pumpkin and honey. The aroma is sweet, earthy, and far more appealing than the last two pumpkin ravioli I've had. (Which had more of a baby food and weird dessert effect.) The doughy exterior didn't seem to have much of a taste on it's own, it was just like any other pasta I've ever cooked up at home, so all of the flavoring comes from the filling.

Inside, the filling is a smooth mixture of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, sweet honey, brown sugar, and little chunks of actual pumpkin. Now, this filling is a bit on the sweet side, but the cheesiness is strong enough that this does feel like more of a savory entree item than a dessert one. I could easily eat this with tomato sauce and Parmesan, but they were so yummy on their own, I chose to eat them as is. If I had to compare this flavoring to anything, it would be a cheese filled ravioli with mashed up pumpkin and honey inside. Reading that, it might not sound very appealing, but it works!

This is a really yummy and interesting take on the classic cheese-filled ravioli. I think it's great on it's own, maybe with a little cracked pepper or garlic, but you could also serve it with your usual tomato sauce and toppings. Plus, not only does it taste good, but the two toned colors make them really interesting to look at. I could see myself putting these out on little plates in sets of two as some kind of fancy appetizer item at a fall dinner party. (With a little garnish or buttery garlic sauce to make it look more finished.)

On a Pumpkin Scale of 1-5 (5 being the most pumpkin-y) I’d give this a 4. It has a lite, earthy, taste that is very pumpkin/squash-like, but the ricotta and honey are the strongest flavors. These might not be in-your-face pumpkin flavoring, but it's really enjoyable and I would definitely buy these again.
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