Those ravioli and tortellini in the fresh case at the supermarket seem to weasel their way into my refrigerator every week. Why? Well, they’re a simple and tasty way to get some protein into my kids. Even my picky eldest will eat them, sometimes even for breakfast. They’re great leftover and cold, packed into a lunchbox with a little container of marinara or (heaven help me) ranch dressing, as my daughter is wont to do.
Making ravioli at home isn’t something I think to do often, but about every three to five years when I have a hankering for them, I realize how stupid easy they are to make. Homemade pasta dough can be whipped up in a food processor in a minute flat out of flour and water (and egg if you’re feeling super fancy), and assembling ravioli is as simple as pie once the filling is mixed and the dough is rolled out. It’s not much harder to make sixty ravioli than it is to make twenty, so you can maximize your benefit by making a few extra, freezing them on a sheet pan until hard, and storing in the freezer for up to three months. They can go straight into a pot of boiling water for a tasty midweek dinner.
Sometimes even a one minute dough making session seems like too much work, though, and that’s when wonton skins or egg rolls come in handy. They’re usually found in the vegetable section of the grocery store near the tofu, and they’re already rolled, cut and ready to rumble. A quick filling of whatever you fancy can be stirred together in no time at all and, as is the case with my recipe below, dinner can be on the table in less than half an hour.
The beauty of wonton skins is that they don’t require a floured board or any special equipment to work perfectly every time, so this is a pretty mess-free project, making it a great “real food” project for kids. As the paper thin skins are prone to drying out, keep them moist under a lightly moistened cloth or paper towel when you’re working on a batch of ravioli. You can store unused wonton skins well-sealed in the refrigerator for weeks or in the freezer for a few months.
Most ravioli fillings start with a base of ricotta cheese flavored with herbs and Parmesan cheese and bound together with whole eggs or whites, which helps the filling set and reduces the ooze factor when they’re eaten. After that, the sky’s the limit. Use up some extra seafood or meat (raw or cooked, just chop fine before adding) add some finely chopped or pureed veggies, like my squash recipe below. If your veggies are raw, give them a quick saute and cool them off before adding to the cheese mixture to keep your filling from getting watery. Try making ravioli with leftover BBQ pulled pork or get fancy with some duck confit; in both cases, the meat is itself sufficient as the stuffing. No cheese required.
Experimentation is a good thing, and it’s always a good idea to check the flavor of your filling before you bother stuffing a ton of ravioli. Otherwise, you stand to waste a bunch of ingredients or ton of time trying to figure out how to fix the flavor after the fact. Just drop a teaspoon of filling into your boiling pasta water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Alternatively, you can toss your sample into a coffee cup with 2” of water in it and microwave on high for 2 minutes. The texture might suffer for the harsh treatment, but the flavor is what you’re evaluating at this point. Give it a taste and adjust your seasonings if you’re not loving it. Repeat until you’re feeling good about what you’ve created then just cram it between two wonton skins, seal it up and throw together a side salad while they cook.
I like my homemade ravioli cooked through in boiling salted water and transferred to a hot saute pan just a dab of olive oil to help them brown. Once they take on color, I take the pan off the heat, add just a tablespoon of my pasta cooking water to moisten things (watch the splattering!), and throw in a handful of whatever herbs I have kicking around. Served on a warm plate with a few shreds of Parmesan cheese, who needs anything more?
Half-Scratch Pumpkin Ravioli
Hey, you. Yes…you. The one who looked at homemade ravioli and got nervous. Take a closer look at this recipe. It uses prepared wonton wrappers in places of homemade pasta for a delicious dish that’s half the work of most homemade ravioli. Go on, give it a try.
Tip: Any squash will work, home-roasted or otherwise. For a quick solution, use canned pumpkin.
Servings: 8 (95 g )
Prep Time: 30 min.
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- ½ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
- 4 Tbsp. grated parmesan
- 1 egg white
- ¼ tsp. orange zest
- Pinch of ginger
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of cloves
- Pinch of pepper
- 1 (12 oz.) pkg. wonton wrappers
- Stir together everything except the wonton wrappers to combine.
- Cut a wonton wrapper in half and moisten the edges of one half with a wet finger. Drop half a teaspoon of filling onto the center of a wonton skin.
- Drape the other half of the wrapper over the filling, aligning the edges. Crimp together with a fork or pasta crimper. Repeat until wrappers and filling have been used.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook ravioli until they float to the top (4-5 minutes). Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and serve immediately with your favorite sauce.