Like most people who grew up in the 90s, my first ravioli came from a can. And while this is not a cool thing to admit to, I still have a place in my heart for that indestructible pasta-like substance. But my love affair with ravioli didn’t really heat up until I ate them in San Diego of all places. It was a plate of handmade four cheese ravioli and I lost my mind over it. Now, it’s not strange to love fresh pasta wrapped around high-quality cheese, but what is surprising is I’ve never tried making ravioli. Generally, when I fall in love with a food item, I attempt to make said food item on my own. It’s the natural order of things. But for whatever reason, I never did until I made this batch of Sundried Tomato Ravioli.
Yes, these are my first ever ravioli and I gotta say, I’m kinda proud. Sure, they may not be perfect. I’m not so great at cutting in straight lines. But aside from their “rustic” appearance, I can assure you they taste just right. It’s funny because I think I got it into my head that ravioli isn’t something you can make at home. I realize how weird that is coming from a person who has no qualms about attempting from-scratch ramen noodles, but here we are. In fact, in the process of making the Sundried Tomato Ravioli, I was convinced they would burst open in the water, or they would have a rubbery texture, or the filling would be all wrong. I simply could not stop picturing ravioli nightmare scenarios. Luckily, not one of them came true.
One thing I specifically remember from the life-altering San Diego ravioli experience was the cheese pull. Those ravioli had some amazing mozzarella action. So, when it came time to make my own, I knew mozzarella had to make an appearance, but I also knew that it wasn’t exactly a binding cheese and I wanted a pipe-able filling. That’s what brought mascarpone into the picture. The sundried tomatoes were included because sundried tomatoes are delicious. Sometimes you don’t need a better reason than that.
With the sweet richness of the sundried tomato and the creaminess of the mascarpone, I knew my Sundried Tomato Ravioli had a bit of a flavor balance issue. I don’t like to pile heavy on top of heavy, so something had to cut through the intensity of the ravioli. A lot of ravioli dishes are finished with something as simple as a drizzle of good olive oil and I really thought I was going to do the same, but my palette wanted bitterness and it’s pretty pushy. So, I went to my go-to bitter green: rapini.
Originally, I thought of integrating the rapini into the filling but a pesto just made a lot more sense. Now, you may have noticed that whenever pesto appears on this blog it never has pine nuts. That’s because I’m allergic. And yes, I do know what I’m missing because I didn’t develop the allergy until I was 24. I was the most bummed. Since then I’ve gone on a long culinary journey to find the perfect pinenut-free pesto. I guess it’s part of the grieving process. This rapini pesto is the closest I’ve ever gotten. Pumpkin seeds are apparently the missing link.
I will warn you that the recipe for the rapini pesto makes a ton but, luckily, pesto has many applications. Spread it on a sandwich, add it to pasta salad, use it as a flavor base for a cream sauce or vinaigrette. If you can dream it you can make it with leftover pesto. It also freezes beautifully, so don’t fret if you can’t work it into your meal plan anytime soon.
In closing, I’m a crazy person for not attempting my own ravioli sooner. It’s not that hard. So, use my braver, saner self as a role model and make this Sundried Tomato Ravioli with Rapini Pesto tonight!
- 340 g (12 oz) durum semolina
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 3 whole eggs
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 210 ml (7 oz) sundried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
- 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 bunch fresh rapini, ends trimmed and washed
- 1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
- 1/4 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Place the rapini in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook until tender. About 5 minutes.
- Drain the rapini and allow to cool.
- Place the cooled rapini, parmesan, garlic, basil, and pumpkin seeds in a large food processor. Blitz until uniform.
- With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil and lemon juice. Next, sprinkle in the salt and crushed pepper flakes. Process until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer the finished pesto to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk 1 teaspoon of salt and the durum semolina together. Make a well in the center.
- Crack the eggs in the center of the well. Add the olive oil and water to the eggs. Using your hands, integrate the wet ingredients into the dry until a dough forms.
- Add a little extra semolina to the bowl and knead the dough for 3-5 minutes. Form it into a ball and let it rest under a clean dish towel for 30 minutes.
- Cut the rested dough into six. Roll out each section into pasta sheets using a pasta maker. I rolled mine to setting 5 (I have a KitchenAid Pasta attachment). Dust each sheet with semolina flour and place on parchment paper until ready to use.
- Place sundried tomatoes, mozzarella, mascarpone, garlic, lemon juice, and the remaining salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and snip the tip to form a 1-inch opening.
- Cut the pasta sheets into 2-inch squares. Pipe roughly 1 teaspoon of filling on half of the pasta squares. Cover the filling with the remaining pasta squares. Seal by pressing a fork around the border of each ravioli.
- Dust finished ravioli with semolina and place on parchment paper until ready to use.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Liberally salt the water and add the ravioli.
- Cook the ravioli until al dente. About 3 minutes.
- While the ravioli is cooking, heat 1 cup of pesto in a large skillet over low heat. Once the ravioli is done, add the ravioli to the skillet and toss to coat.
- Garnish the ravioli with parmesan curls and mixed micro greens.