I recently cooked up some ravioli from the Dollar Tree and not the premade frozen stuff (well technically that too, but we’ll get to that later)! I’ve seen the frozen stuff featured in lots of videos and blogs, when it occurred to me that I could probably just make some homemade ravioli using ingredients exclusively from the Dollar Tree.
Why the Dollar Tree?
Though ingredients at the Dollar Tree are limited in variety and not always the best bang for your buck, I decided to use dollar store ingredients as a challenge to myself and as a demonstration in being flexible, creative, and using what you have access to to create delicious homemade meals.
These are the ingredients I was able to purchase at the Dollar Tree on the particular day I went.
- Tomato Sauce
- Frozen Ground Sausage
- Parmesan Cheese (be sure to get the smaller container, and not the larger container which is primarily fillers with a small amount of parmesan cheese)
- Cream Cheeze (this is a dairy product that advertises itself as “just like cream cheese” but contains palm oil as an ingredient – when cold, it doesn’t taste very much like cream cheese in my opinion, but when cooked it is just as delicious)
- Feta Cheese Crumbles
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Note that all of the shredded/crumbled cheeses are real cheeses. Many of the cheeses in the dollar store freezers are more along the lines of “cheese like products”, but they usually have some real cheeses, in smaller quantities, in either block or shredded form. They were out of the blocks this time, so I went with what they did have.
Making the Ravioli Dough
To make my fresh pasta dough, I started out by scooping 2 cups of flour onto my clean countertop. I used my hands to shape a hole or “well” into the middle of my flour pile. To that well I added 4 of my medium eggs, a splash of oil (about a tablespoon worth), and a pinch of salt. Using a fork I broke the yolks and whisked the eggs, oil, and salt together.
Then I began stirring some of the flour from the walls of my well into the center, without actually breaking the wall (and thus letting my wet mixture spill over my counter and onto my floor). The more flour that gets incorporated into the center, the thicker the mixture becomes and there is less risk that you will lose control of it if the walls break. It will get to a point that you can mix all of the flour into the center. It will be sticky at first, but a rough dough ball will form at which point I switch to using my hands to continue mixing the dough. The dough ball is needed for about 5-10 minutes, adding flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to hands or counter, until it becomes smooth, soft, and pliable. The dough should still be slightly tacky. At this point it gets set aside for at least an hour, and that’s when I shifted focus to my ravioli fillings!
Mixing the Ravioli Fillings
I ended up making 4 different ravioli fillings with the ingredients I had available. 2 of the fillings contained the sausage, which I cooked and drained as soon as I was finished kneading my dough. The 2 fillings that contained the “cream cheeze” made a much more scoopable blend, while the fillings that did not were much drier and more crumbly. This would prove challenging when actually attempting to fill the ravioli.
Rolling the Dough and Filling the Ravioli
I divided my dough into 3 portions (I had initially had 3 fillings but had enough dough to mix up a 4th filling) and rolled the first out onto a floured counter with a rolling pin. Due to the height and size of my counter, I divided the two remaining balls of dough in half so that they would be easier for me to work with.
I scooped my mixture by the spoonful onto my rolled out sheet of pasta dough, giving enough space between the filling so that I would be able to fold the pasta sheet over the filling and cut the individual ravioli out.
The cream cheeze based ones were indeed much easier to work with. I struggled with filling the ravioli that didn’t contain the cream cheeze until I had the idea to pop the other fillings into the microwave, not really long enough to fully melt, but just long enough for everything to get warm and stick together. After that revelation, filling the remainder of the ravioli went smoothly.
Cooking the Ravioli
Cooking fresh ravioli is fast and easy. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. I dropped my ravioli into a pot of boiling water, and they were done after only 2 or 3 minutes.
At this time I also boiled a second pot of water and cooked a bag of the frozen Dollar Tree ravioli so that I could try out a side by side comparison of the premade vs the fresh homemade.
I also purchased a can of tomato sauce from the Dollar Tree and heated that up as well to eat with my ravioli.
Eating the Ravioli
Next it was time for the best part – eating the ravioli! First I tried one of the premade frozen ravioli. I’ve heard mixed reviews about them, but to me it tasted very similar to any other basic, frozen ravioli I’d had before. Not mind blowing, but not horrible either. Solidly decent.
Then I tried one of the fresh made ravioli. AMAZING. Fresh ravioli is one of those things I know I absolutely love, but every time I eat it I’m reminded of why putting the work in to make them is so worth it. I ate another bite of the premade stuff, and now it tasted significantly less great in comparison.
Try it out for yourself!
I would call my dish of homemade ravioli from the Dollar Tree an absolute success! If you’ve never made ravioli before, I hope you come away from this feeling empowered and confident that you can also achieve a delicious plate of cheese filled pasta. If you’re an old pro, I hope this sparked some creativity in you or at that very least entertained you for a few minutes out of your day =)