Ravioli stuffed with shrimp and crab is a culinary delight bursting with briny seafood flavor. But the right sauce can take this classic Italian pasta dish to new heights of deliciousness. Whether you’re cooking for date night at home or hosting a dinner party, sauce is the key to complementing the stuffing and transforming ravioli into a restaurant-worthy meal. From tomato-based sauces to creamy Alfredos, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Read on for 10 sauces that will have your tastebuds dancing with joy when paired with shrimp and crab ravioli.
1. Classic Marinara
Nothing evokes the flavors of Italy quite like a simmering pot of marinara sauce. This classic tomato-based sauce is the perfect complement to shrimp and crab ravioli. The tangy tomatoes, infused with the fragrances of garlic, olive oil, oregano and basil, balance beautifully with the sweet brininess of the seafood filling.
For optimal flavor, use high-quality jarred or canned marinara, or better yet, make it yourself from fresh, ripe tomatoes at the peak of summer. Gently heat the sauce before tossing with al dente ravioli and finishing with finely grated parmesan.
A sprinkling of red pepper flakes adds a subtle heat that brings out even more of the fresh tomato essence. With a dish this good, you’ll feel like you’re dining on the coast of Italy!
2. Spicy Arrabiata
For those who like a little heat, spicy arrabiata sauce adds a fiery kick to shrimp and crab ravioli. Like marinara, arrabiata starts with a tomato base. It gets its heat from red chili peppers and extra zing from garlic. When tossed with ravioli, the filling helps balance out the heat.
The bright acidity of the tomato cuts through the rich, sweet seafood stuffing. For a silky texture, puree the sauce with an immersion blender. Add fresh basil leaves and serve with grated parmesan or romano cheese. A drizzle of olive oil and chili flakes make a perfect final flourish.
3. Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
For a flavorful twist on classic pesto, try making it with sun-dried tomatoes. Toss ravioli with sun-dried tomato pesto for an instant flavor upgrade. The concentrated, almost fruity taste of sun-dried tomatoes gives this pesto unique depth and intensity.
To make it, puree oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes with toasted pine nuts, basil, garlic, and olive oil. The richness of the pesto complements the filling beautifully. Garnish with extra pine nuts for added crunch. For those avoiding dairy, pesto is naturally vegan when made without cheese.
4. Lemon Butter
Buttery, lemony, and full of bright flavor, lemon butter sauce is delightfully easy, requiring just a few ingredients. Melt butter in a skillet until it begins to turn golden brown. Add minced garlic and lemon zest, cook 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat and stir in fresh lemon juice. Toss the lemony butter with hot ravioli so that the sauce melts into the nooks and crannies.
The bright citrus cuts through the richness of the filling. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil. For a restaurant-quality presentation, serve in a shallow bowl, garnished with a lemon wheel.
5. Spinach & Artichoke Alfredo
For a creamy, decadent sauce, you can’t go wrong with a classic Alfredo. But adding spinach and artichoke takes it to the next level.
Cook frozen spinach and quartered artichoke hearts in the Alfredo sauce until heated through. Toss with shrimp and crab ravioli and garnish with shaved parmesan. The artichokes add texture while the spinach gives a boost of color and freshness. Jarred Alfredo sauce makes quick work of this dish.
Or impress your dinner guests by making Alfredo from scratch. The classic version uses heavy cream, butter, and parmesan. For a lighter sauce, substitute Greek yogurt or reduced-fat milk.
6. Lemon Caper Butter
Butter sauce brightened with lemon and briny capers is another easy yet impressive sauce for shrimp and crab ravioli. Melt butter in a skillet and add the zest of 1 lemon plus 2 tablespoons juice. Then stir in 2 tablespoons rinsed capers.
Caprylic acid in capers helps cut through rich dishes, making this sauce perfectly balanced. The floral notes from the lemon zest amplify the sweetness of the crabmeat. For added richness, use browned butter. Garnish with more capers and fresh parsley. This light sauce keeps the filling front and center.
7. Basil Cream Sauce
For a simple sauce that’s endlessly customizable, whip up this basil cream sauce. Simmer half and half, garlic, and basil until slightly reduced. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to skillet and whisk in cream cheese a few cubes at a time until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Substitute Greek yogurt for a lower-fat option.
This method works for making all kinds of herb cream sauces. Try cilantro, dill, or tarragon in place of the basil. The silky cream sauce coats each tender pasta pillow without overpowering the filling. Garnish with tomatoes and extra basil for a pop of color.
8. Tomato Cream Sauce
Another hybrid sauce that combines the best of tomato and cream is this tomato cream. Saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Simmer until tomatoes break down, then remove from heat. Slowly stir in cream until fully incorporated.
You can also use half and half or Greek yogurt. The sweet creaminess pairs nicely with the acidic tomato while carrying the flavors of the seafood filling. Garnish with fresh basil. For extra decadence, add crabmeat or shrimp to the sauce.
9. Cajun Cream Sauce
Bring a taste of New Orleans to your shrimp and crab ravioli with this Cajun-spiced cream sauce. In a skillet, make a roux by cooking butter and flour until golden. Slowly whisk in cream and bring to a simmer. Season the sauce with Cajun seasoning, cayenne, and hot sauce until nicely spiced but not too hot.
Toss the sauce with the ravioli so the filling soaks up all that Louisiana flavor. Garnish with green onions and more hot sauce for those who like the extra heat. Chopped bell pepper or roasted veggies also make a nice addition. The creamy base lets the spices shine.
10. Vodka Sauce
No list of pasta sauces would be complete without vodka sauce. Infuse cream with shallots, tomato paste, and vodka, then toss with ravioli. The alcohol cooks off, leaving behind a rich, tangy flavor. Like marinara, it has an undercurrent of tomato but with a silky finish from the cream.
For an easy shortcut, jarred vodka sauce means no chopping required. Just dress the ravioli and garnish with parmesan and parsley. Add shrimp or lump crab on top for a taste of surf and turf. However you make it, vodka sauce is atimestep classic with shrimp and crab ravioli.
1. What are some classic Italian sauces I can use?
Some traditional Italian sauces that pair well include marinara, arrabiata, Alfredo, pesto, and vodka sauce. Marinara and arrabiata have a tomato base, while Alfredo and vodka sauces are cream-based. Pesto is made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil.
2. What are some quick and easy sauces to make at home?
Simple pan sauces like lemon butter, garlic butter, or lemon caper butter take just a few minutes to prepare. You can also use store-bought sauces like jarred marinara, pesto, or Alfredo to save time.
3. What ingredients can I add to basic sauces for more flavor?
Try adding sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, herbs like basil or cilantro, capers, olives, or spices like cajun seasoning or red pepper flakes. Wine, vodka, citrus juice, and different types of cheese also lend lots of flavor.
4. What sauce ingredients should I avoid with seafood ravioli?
Avoid very chunky sauces that might overpower the delicate filling. Go easy on strong flavored ingredients like anchovies, fish sauce, rosemary, and sage as they can also overwhelm the shrimp and crab.
5. What ingredients pair well with the flavors in shrimp and crab?
Ingredients like lemon, garlic, basil, parsley, white wine, and butter nicely complement shrimp and crab. Tomatoes, capers, chili peppers, and spinach also make great pairings. Stay away from very sweet sauces that might clash.
6. What cuisine styles work well for sauces with seafood ravioli?
Italian, French, and American cuisine tend to have classic sauces that pair beautifully with seafood pasta. Cajun or Creole-inspired sauces also work well by picking up the briny, robust flavors of the stuffing.
7. Should I sauce the ravioli before or after cooking?
It’s best to cook the ravioli first, then toss it with your sauce of choice. This prevents the pasta from getting soggy or overcooked, and helps the sauce coat each piece evenly.
8. How much sauce should I use?
Aim for about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce per serving. You want just enough to coat the pasta and fillings without drowning it. Add sauce gradually and toss to ensure even coverage.
9. What are some quick garnishes to elevate my plated dish?
Chopped parsley, basil, grated parmesan, lemon wedges, red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, and roasted vegetables make easy but elegant garnishes. You can also top with more shrimp or lump crab meat.
With so many sauces to choose from, why settle for boring butter on your ravioli? Take this stuffed pasta to new heights by pairing it with a flavor-packed sauce. From quick pan sauces to luxurious creams, the possibilities are practically endless.
Use the filling as inspiration and pick sauces with complementary flavors. The sauce should enhance the seafood, not mask it. Whether hosting date night or Sunday family dinner, a perfect sauce makes shrimp and crab ravioli feel extra special.
What Sauce Goes with Shrimp and Crab Ravioli?
- Classic Marinara
- Spicy Arrabiata
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- Lemon Butter
- Spinach & Artichoke Alfredo
- Lemon Caper Butter
- Basil Cream Sauce
- Tomato Cream Sauce
- Cajun Cream Sauce
- Vodka Sauce
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add ravioli and cook according to package directions, about 2-3 minutes until tender.
- Drain ravioli well and reserve some pasta water.
- Meanwhile, make your sauce. Good options are lemon butter, garlic cream, or vodka sauce.
- For lemon butter sauce: melt butter, add lemon juice, zest, parsley and season.
- For garlic cream: sauté garlic and shallots, add heavy cream and bring to a simmer.
- Add the cooked ravioli to the pan with the sauce. Gently toss to coat.
- If needed, thin sauce with a splash of reserved pasta water.
- Serve ravioli topped with extra sauce and fresh parsley.