I love ravioli. I especially like to eat them when going out for food. When everything works together – filling, accompaniment and sauce, with the pasta al dente, it’s just divine. It’s just that so often, the ravioli aren’t that good. They’re cooked to long and fall apart on your plate. Or the sauce is just too heavy. The filling ends up pasty. Or the ravioli are too big.
I could go on and on, but really, it’s my own fault. I should make my own ravioli. It’s just that the process seems so intimidating that I haven’t made any so far. Plus, I’m the only one around here who really loves ravioli. Oh, and another huge obstacle: I don’t own a pasta roller. I imagine it would be very difficult to hand roll the pasta dough evenly enough, even though it’s the traditional method. I also haven’t made the wonton wrapper version since that balance between pasta and filling is so important to me. I can’t imagine the wonton wrapper taste being quite right.
So what’s a girl to do if she wants ravioli and doesn’t want to eat out constantly get her ravioli fix in? Our friendly Trader Joe make a pretty good ravioli version. They’re not frozen so you don’t have the issue of them falling apart when thawing and cooking. You still need to be careful when cooking so you don’t end up with kaputt ravioli, but the finished product is pretty darn good.
The classic preparation – sage and brown butter – is always a hit. Ravioli with pesto or with an arrabiata sauce are great as well, as long as the balance is right. But then I found this recipe for creamy ravioli with peas and salami. Salami in my pasta? That was just too interesting to pass up. The recipe calls for alfredo sauce, but I’m not a great fan of it, especially the kind out of the jar. It’s just too heavy and thick. Instead it’s easy to just add a little butter, cream and parmesan, and you should get the same result.
You know me, I just had to tinker a bit with the recipe. I used fresh ravioli filled with white and green asparagus and ricotta. I was a bit skeptical how these would work out, but they were delicious. (Yes, they weren’t from Trader Joes – I made them when I was in Germany). I started to type up my modifications, but I think it’s easier if it’s in recipe form:
For 4 people:
100g frozen peas
6 thick slices of good quality salami (I used 1/2 thick slices)
a handful of red and yellow cherry tomatoes each (sorry, I didn’t weigh them)
Very light alfredo sauce:
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup of whipping cream (you don’t have to use heavy whipping cream)
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus parmesan for decoration
3 fresh garlic cloves (adjust to your taste)
3/4 – 1 cup of pasta water (from your ravioli)
pinch of salt
Add the ravioli to salted boiling water carefully , and cook according to package instructions, being careful not to overcook them. In the meanwhile cut the salami into small cubes. Fish the cooked ravioli out of the pasta water carefully – I scooped them out individually – then place in a dish and cover to keep them hot. Add the frozen peas to the hot water and let them cook briefly til they’re lovely plump and green, approximately 2 minutes. Drain, but save 2 cups of pasta water for the alfredo sauce.
Return empty pot to heat. Let pot heat a bit til the water has evaporated, then add butter (if you don’t wait, you’re adding fat to hot water – not a good idea). Add whipping cream and let the butter and cream mingle over medium heat. Once cream is warm add garlic – you can easily use however much and whatever form of garlic, although I wouldn’t suggest garlic powder. Let the mixture heat through, then add about 3/4 cup of pasta water. The mix should be a pale creamy sauce – if it’s too watery, add a bit more cream. Add a pinch of salt – the salami and the parmesan both are salty, so really only use a pinch. You can always add more later.
Return the peas to the pot, then add the salami. If you forgot to cook your peas earlier, you could also just add the peas to the pot now and cook them very briefly. Reduce the heat to low – you want the salami warm, but not too hot that the fat starts rendering. Add the parmesan. Mix all ingredients, then very carefully add the ravioli back to the pot (I added them individually). Add 1/2 tsp of thyme, to taste . This is the time adjust your ingredients, if you want to – salt, more thyme, more cream or more pasta water, pepper if you’d like and so on. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, stir carefully. By adding the tomatoes at the end, you ensure that the tomatoes are warmed through, but the skin hasn’t separated. And then you’re ready to serve. Place ravioli in shallow plate, ladle sauce over the ravioli. You can also serve them in a big dish, just make sure you layer the ravioli and the sauce. The sauce should be light and creamy, not heavy.
Garnish with parmesan and thyme, and a light drizzle of good olive oil. This is a dish that tastes very light dish (despite the use of cream and salami and butter) where the ingredients are really highlighted. That also means that good quality ingredients make the dish, and you really won’t need much in the way of spices and herbs. Make sure you use good salami, where the fat doesn’t taste weird. It’s a wonderful dish and really whips up quickly and is ridiculously tasty. Props to Val So Cal for the awesome original recipe.
Featured image shows raw beetroot ravioli from G Living.