Home-cooked meals made from scratch are definitely great, but when you are juggling work, school, and just life in general, it can be quite the challenge to prepare on a regular basis. That’s why there are shortcuts that help ease the frustration of what to eat. All of us have some sort of frozen meal in our freezer for those days we just don’t have the energy and time to cook a satisfying meal. The Buitoni brand now features Frozen Meals for Two that offers great taste and high quality ingredients in a box. Foodbuzz & Buitoni selected The Food Addicts to host a party for our friends featuring the Buitoni Premium Frozen Meals, with an emphasis on pairing these pasta dishes with a salad. We brought on the idea to create a fresh salad bar in our kitchen using some organic ingredients from our garden and letting our friends pair the Buitoni pasta with a salad of their choice. This makes it fun and interactive, and definitely provides a well-balanced meal for everyone – and let’s just say they were beyond stuffed and satisfied!
We received 10 coupons from Buitoni to redeem at the supermarket for the Frozen Meals for Two. We've never seen a coupon with a glittery seal on it before. Fancy!
We only found 4 varieties at Ralphs so we got a mix of all of them - Chicken and Mushroom Ravioli, Meat Lasagna, Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli, and Grilled Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni.
From our garden, we harvested the butter lettuce that has been growing for the past few weeks. We rotate the garden with different kinds of lettuce so that we always get a nice variety.
We are not entirely sure what kind of lettuce this is, but it was part of a Spring Mix blend we bought at our local nursery.
Our bell peppers were ready for picking, and more than ready to be placed on a hot grill.
For the salad toppings, we included a variety of grilled vegetables, including the green bell pepper above, this eggplant, and some zucchini.
We managed to pick some black cherry tomatoes as well, even though it's still early in the season for tomatoes. Black cherry tomatoes are more rare, and definitely a unique plant.
Back inside, we prepped other ingredients for the salad bar, like home made croutons. We bought ciabatta bread and cut them into cubes. Then we brushed a mixture of butter, pressed garlic, and dried parsley on top and popped them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 2 hrs until it's nice and crunchy.
Our 9-foot island turned into the salad bar, which had a ton of options to choose from. We provided grilled eggplant, grilled bell peppers, grilled zucchini, sautéed mushrooms in butter, soft tofu, grilled corn, boiled egg, beets, black cherry tomatoes, caramelized onion, black olives, fresh mozarella cheese, cucumbers, red onion, and avocados. You can easily create a Greek salad or Asian salad with these options - so it was our guests' desire to be creative.
Of course, we also had 4 different dressings made from scratch: Carrot-Ginger dressing, Ponzu dressing, Roasted Red Pepper dressing, and Caesar dressing.
Prepping the Buitoni Frozen Meals for Two was simple! This is the Cannelloni which comes with the Alfredo Sauce and baked all together in the oven for 50 minutes.
This Grilled Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni was Daniel's favorite!
The Chicken & Mushroom Ravioli with Marsala Wine Sauce is prepared by boiling the pasta and warming the sauce. Quick, easy, and tasty!
It was hard to cut a perfect piece of this Southern Italian Style Meat Lasagna, so excuse the puddle of meat and cheese in this photo.
And lastly, the Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli with Garlic Butter Sauce was practically everyone's favorite! Who can blame them?? It was delicious!
Stephanie and Aki are making their first trip around the island to pair their pasta with the salad. So many choices! (Of course, we have to represent the LOS ANGELES LAKERS, right?)
Sandy and Ben enjoyed their tasty selections, along with their champagne and Bloody Mary.
With all of the different lettuce blends, toppings, and dressings at our salad bar, we had a wonderful time creating zesty salads with the Buitoni pasta meals.
What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with good friends and good food! Although we didn’t do much cooking, it sure took a lot of work to prepare all of the many ingredients to complete the meal. But in the end, it was well worth the effort. Thanks Foodbuzz & Buitoni for selecting us to host this party! This was a great excuse for us to use up some of our produce in our garden, and as the summer moves forward, we will continue to share our abundant harvest with you!