Italian Dumplings

March 20 is National Ravioli Day!  I love pasta of all kinds and ravioli is one of my favorites.  What’s not to love?  Bite size pasta pockets with filling all wrapped up so neatly.  So delicious, so manageable.  They are also versatile if you make them by hand.  You can use any number of fillings and sauces to make it savory or sweet.

According to toscanaslc.com, “ravioli” comes from the Italian riavvolgere, which means “to wrap.”  The earliest mention of ravioli comes from 14th century manuscripts. In documents from Francesco di Marco Datini, a merchant of Prato, there is a recipe for ravioli consisting of chopped blanched green herbs, fresh cheese, and beaten egg, then simmered in broth.  There were also mentions of ravioli in 14th century England, in a cookbook by King Richard II’s chefs. They are referred to as “rauioles.” Food historians suggest Sicilian and Maltese ravioli may precede North Italian versions, using sheep’s milk ricotta or sheep’s milk cheese.  Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until the 16th century ravioli was served in a tomato sauce.  It was always served in broth originally.  

Ravioli is relatively easy to make as long as you have a large surface to work with.  Ravioli is made of simple pasta dough, rolled out thin.  You must work quickly though as it is thin enough to dry out quickly.  Filling is even spaced on the dough and another sheet is placed over the top.  Air pockets are then worked out before cutting the ravioli apart.  Then it’s a quick bath in boiling water and they are ready to eat! 

Fun Facts:

The Guinness World Records’ record for the longest ravioli measures 96ft 1in and was achieved by Amway Russia in St Petersburg, Russia, in August of 2013.

Canned ravioli was pioneered by Chef Boyardee in the 1930’s.

You can get ravioli nudi, or “naked ravioli”, which is simply the filling without the pasta shell.  Who knew?! And more importantly why would you?

Ravioli were originally created as a way to use up leftovers.  However, today it is often a main dish served with fresh ingredients including cheese, vegetables or seafood.

This weekend as you are stuck in the house, clear off some counter space and get the kids involved in dinner.  Pick up a few ingredients this weekend. Then, meet me in the kitchen for Italy’s version of dumplings!

Ravioli Dough

3 large eggs, beaten to blend

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp salt

Mix eggs, flour, oil and salt in bowl of stand mixer with your hands until shaggy dough forms. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. This can be done by hand if you have no dough hook or if your mixer can’t handle the dough.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.  Prepare filling before rolling out dough.  Divide dough into 4 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping remaining dough wrapped in plastic as you work, flatten dough.  Roll out sheets lengthwise with rolling pin until 1/16" thick.  Cut sheet of dough in half crosswise. Starting 1" from short edge, spoon filling, 1 Tbsp. at a time, down length, spacing about 1" apart.  Brush dough and top of filling with egg wash. Top with second length of dough and press around each mound to seal.  Then press outward toward edges, pushing out any air pockets.  Using sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each ravioli into 2" square. Arrange on prepared sheet, dust with cornmeal, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

You can easily use shaped cutters for rounds, hearts or any shape your heart desires.

Recipe from bonappetit.com.

 

Cheese Ravioli

1 8oz container ricotta cheese

4oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup provolone cheese, shredded

1 egg

1 ½ tsps. dried parsley

Alfredo sauce

Combine ricotta cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, egg and parsley and mix well.  Prepare ravioli as directed above.  Bring large pot of lightly salted water to boil.  Add ravioli and cook for 3-5 minutes or until tender.  If your pot is not large enough, you may have to cook in batches.  OR cook enough for dinner now and freeze the rest in an airtight container for another time.  Drain water and top with sauce as desired.

Recipe from allrecipes.com.

 

Crab Ravioli

½ Tbsp. unsalted sweet cream butter

½ Tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 

¼ cup half-and-half or whole milk 

½lb crabmeat, picked over 

1 large scallion, white part only, minced 

1 tsp minced fresh tarragon 

½ tsp Dijon mustard 

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Shallot Cream

2 Tbsps. unsalted sweet cream butter

1 large shallot, minced 

1 cup heavy cream 

½ cup clam broth 

2 tsps. Dijon mustard 

1 Tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley 

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Melt butter in medium nonreactive saucepan over moderate heat. Add flour and cook, whisking for 30 seconds.  Add half-and-half and cook, whisking constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Fold in crabmeat, scallion, tarragon and mustard and season with salt and pepper.  Fill dough as directed above.  Melt butter in a large nonreactive skillet. Add shallot and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cream and clam broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and parsley and season with salt and white pepper. Cover and set aside.  Cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until they rise to surface, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ravioli to colander to drain. Add drained ravioli to shallot cream and toss gently over low heat. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from foodandwine.com

 

Sweet Potato Ravioli

2 lbs sweet potatoes

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp butter

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cloves

Basil Brown Butter Sauce

¼ cup butter

2 Tbsps. fresh basil, finely chopped

Peel and cube sweet potatoes.  Place in large pot of boiling water over high heat and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain and place in large mixing bowl to cool.  Add brown sugar, butter, nutmeg and cloves.  Use an electric hand mixer to mash sweet potatoes. Fill ravioli as directed above.  Place butter in small skillet on stove over medium-high heat.  Once butter begins to brown, add chopped basil.  Sauté for 1-2 minutes, until browned and set aside.  Cook ravioli in pot of boiling salted water for 3-5 minutes or until tender.  Drain.  Plate ravioli and drizzle with brown butter sauce.

Recipe adapted from whitneybond.com.

 

Apple Pie Ravioli

4 refrigerated pie dough

2 cans apple pie filling

2 eggs

4 Tbsps. milk

3 Tbsps. cinnamon sugar

 

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat eggs and milk together in small bowl and set aside.  Roll out dough, one package at a time in as much of a square as possible.    Starting 1" from edge, spoon filling, 1 Tbsp. at a time, spacing about 1" apart.  Brush dough and top of filling with egg wash.  Top with second crust.  Press around each mound to seal, then press outward toward edges, pushing out any air pockets.  Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each ravioli into a 2" square.  Brush lightly with egg mixture and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over top.  Repeat with second crust.  Place ravioli onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.