There are things only some of us can do. Things that require unique talent and skills few possess (unless you’re my friend Mark, who has one of these rings at home).
Homemade ravioli is not among these feats.
A Pear to Remember is the place, after all, for deliciously do-able cooking. Homemade ravioli is impressive, elegant, divine in every way, but not impossible. Not even hard. Not even hours of work.
Pasta from scratch?? Not today. Won ton wrappers are these magical pre-cut pasta sheets Giant stores carry adjacent to the bagged salads. They are ever more common at grocery retailers, and Asian specialty stores would surely carry them, too. You can also make this without a food processor so it’s not such a fussy equipment endeavor. There are several steps, but few take more than a minute and a half. With a friend, these could easily be ready to go in 40 minutes. (Trader Joes, where speciality cheeses are not overpriced, also makes this an affordable meal).
This marks our most special meal to date. And, in my book, the most delicious by far. Here’s to memory-making on Monday nights!
Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce
Fine Cooking (April/May 2011), serves 4
6 tablespoon marscarpone
1/3 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving
1/2 tsp. minced garlic (must be fresh, the jarred stuff is too harsh)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
36 wonton wrappers
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
finely grated lemon zest to taste
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat (using this same water for the pasta later maintains nutrients!). Have ready a medium bowl of ice water (if you have a colander to rest inside, this is one less draining step). Boil the asparagus tips until tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon (thanks, Kathy!), transfer to the ice water. When cool, transfer with the slotted spoon to a small bowl and set aside. Cook and cool the asparagus spears in the same manner; dry them on paper towels.
Let’s stop for a sec to talk minced garlic.
To mince garlic well, whack a single clove with the side of a wide knife—makes peeling a snap. To chop the garlic very, very fine, slice the clove a few times, sprinkle with a big pinch of coarse salt, and chop away. Just keep running over the clove with your knife; the salt will help mash it into a paste to blend beautifully into your dish.
You can also rub your garlic clove on a microplane for the same, quicker, effect! (Use the same zester for the lemon at the end; no need to clean between).
Arrange 18 wonton wrappers on a work surface (a cookie sheet is perfect for both prepping and post-boiling) . Put 1 level Tbs. of the asparagus filling in the center of each wrapper (don’t get too caught up in measuring).
Using a pastry brush, moisten the edges of each with water. Top each with another wrapper and press the edges firmly to seal, expelling any air bubbles as you seal. If you don’t plan to cook the ravioli immediately, cover them with a damp cloth.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil over high heat (ideally, the same pot with the blanched asparagus water).
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and add the almonds, shaking the pan. Cook until the butter turns light brown, about 6 minutes, and then immediately transfer to a small bowl.
Add the ravioli, about 5 at a time, to the boiling water (I lowered the boil so the pockets would not explode; it worked). When they rise to the surface, after about 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to warm plates or pasta bowls. Spoon the brown butter mixture over the ravioli. Top with the reserved asparagus pieces, a grinding of pepper, a sprinkle of Parmigiano, and a little lemon zest, and serve.
Thanks to the Bitten Word for inspiring me to try (and conquer) this recipe!