I’ll let you all in on what’s probably a not-so-little secret about myself: I absolutely love making lists and outlines.
I was that kid in college who wrote outlines of my textbooks’ outlines because it was calming. When I’m in the control room in a newsroom and I have lots of live shots, I’m the producer going out of the way to color-code a list of the reporters I’ll be cuing. And when I have a casual get-together at my apartment, I can guarantee you that somewhere on my desk, or maybe on my iPhone, I have spent a week putting together a long list of things to do, snacks and drinks to make or buy and a timeline for getting everything done. It doesn’t matter if we’re just ordering pizza. I absolutely relish every chance I have to brainstorm and make lists. It’s so much fun.
So this year, when the brackets came out for March Madness and I saw that my alma mater, Mizzou, was going to be making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since I was actually in college, I knew I had to do something that Friday night. Out came the little notepad.
I wanted to prepare at least one dish for the night myself, but I also believe that when you’re hosting, you’ve got to strike a balance between challenging and easy foods and drinks in order to stay sane. So, in keeping with the March Madness theme, I decided to order Detroit-style pizza from Milwaukee’s Pizza Shuttle since my boyfriend’s favorite team, Michigan State, would be playing the same night. As for my Mizzou-themed meal, I knew exactly what to make.
The first time I visited Mizzou, my family stopped in St. Louis on the way to Columbia for Italian food and I was introduced to the toasted – not fried – ravioli. If you’ve never had it, toasted ravioli an iconic St. Louis dish. It’s crunchy and flaky on the outside, with a chewy, cheesy center. It takes an ordinary bite of ravioli to a whole new level of flavor, thanks to the Italian breadcrumbs covering each piece. It’s simple and a little indulgent and it was offered as an appetizer practically everywhere I went in Columbia. I can’t even begin to count how many times my friends and I ordered it during our four years at Mizzou.
I’ll admit, I was a little scared to make toasted ravioli, since I had never deep-fried anything before. But the recipe was actually quite easy to make, and not terribly messy, which is a win-win when you know you’ve got company coming over in an hour.
Unfortunately, Mizzou’s game didn’t go the way I’d hoped it would (and Virginia absolutely busted my bracket), but, hey, at least I had some tasty homemade comfort food to cheer me up 😉
An iconic St. Louis dish. Crunchy and flaky on the outside, with a chewy cheesy center.
- 2 tbs whole milk
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 25 oz thawed-out frozen cheese ravioli
- 3 cups vegetable oil
- grated Parmesan
- Marinara sauce
Pour the oil into a large heavy pan (I used my dutch oven) and heat on medium. You can test if the oil is hot enough with a deep fry thermometer (350 degrees) or by testing the oil with a small piece of breading. If it sizzles and turns brown, the oil’s hot enough.
Whisk the milk and egg together in a bowl. Pour the bread crumbs and salt into a separate bowl. Dip each piece of ravioli into the milk and egg mixture followed by the bowl of bread crumbs.
Working in small batches (I worked with six pieces of ravioli at a time), place the ravioli in the oil, flipping each piece over once after 30-60 seconds or when you see the bread crumbs turning golden-brown. Remove the ravioli from the oil and add another batch in.
Sprinkle grated parmesan on top of the ravioli. Heat up marinara sauce and serve.