Sunday, November 17, 2013

Semi-Homemade Cheesy Kale Fried Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce


Sometimes you get a craving for something warm, filling and beyond the norm of every day cooking.  After all, it is not every day that we spend a good hour or two carefully filling, folding and frying or boiling ravioli, as well as creating a flavorful meatless Monday sauce.  I was off last Monday, and upon the third day of my three day weekend, I had the time to devote to my own kitchen. I wanted to have a meatless Monday after a meaty dinner Sunday with my mom, and so, following my craving, I made semi-homemade ravioli which I stuffed with ricotta and parmesan cheeses and finely chopped fresh baby kale. I filled round potsticker sheets forming half circles and fried them in a mix of canola, grapeseed and extra virgin olive oil.  For my sauce, I used two large sweet roasted red peppers along with shallots, red onion, a Fresno chili and garlic which I'd roasted as well.  It made for a thick, flavorful sauce.  Let's get started with the recipe itself, alright?

Ingredients:
2 shallots, halved
1 quarter of a red onion
3 cloves garlic to roast, plus one to grate
1 Fresno chili
2 large sweet red peppers
1 package round potsticker (pasta) sheets
1 15 ounce container of ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped baby kale
2 cups canola or vegetable oil (I used an oil that is comprised of canola, grapeseed and extra virgin olive oil).  
salt and pepper
1 small bowl water
*I added a teaspoon of dried oregano and a couple of fresh leaves of basil to my sacue

 
 Some of the fresh ingredients I used for my ravioli.




Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  On a baking sheet or in an oven-safe skillet, add a little extra virgin olive oil to your roasting vegetables.  Season with a little salt and pepper and roast until the peppers' skins are blackened.  Remove the peppers and place them in a zip lock bag or a paper sack and allow them to steam.  This will allow the skins to separate from the flesh of the pepper.  It makes for easy skin removal.  Allow them to steam for at least fifteen minutes.  Remove the skins, seed and ribs. Cut the pepper flesh into thirds.  Add the peppers and the other vegetables to your food processor or blender.  Either will be fine.  Just make sure that the ingredients are not hot.  If they are hot, you will have a veggie-explosive (and pretty messily funny) situation. Process or blend the veggies until the mixture is smooth.  Puree is the setting you want.  At that point, add the mixture to a skillet over low heat and allow the mixture to reheat and for the flavors to marry. I also add a quarter cup of heavy cream and a teaspoon of dried oregano crushed between my palms.  For even more Italian flavor, tear up a couple of fresh basil leaves. The aroma will be fantastic!

While I am talking about the sauce, I made ravioli with a few different sauces, red pepper sauce among them.  For those sauces and a slightly different version of this one, please see my ravioli post from February 2013.  Thank you!

 Now that the sauce is slowly warming and those amazing flavors marrying, time to start on those ravioli!  You will need a flat surface and a non-skid chopping block or something stable like that.  You will need to dedicate a set period of uninterrupted time for this, as the sheets of pasta can dry out quickly and that can cause problems when you go to fry or boil.  I fried mine, in keeping with the wonton/potsticker wrappers, which can be used either way.

In a medium or large bowl, add the ricotta and parmesan cheeses, and mix together.  Add one clove of garlic, finely grated, and the half cup of kale, finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper.  Mix together thoroughly.  Now, position your bowl of water near your filling and folding station.  You may want to use a brush for this, but I used my fingers.  Fingers are my best kitchen utensils. And, as always, make sure they are always clean!!!  Add a little bit more than a teaspoon of the filling to the center of the wrapper round. Using your fingers, moisten the lip of the round liberally.  Fold the lip either toward you or away from you, whichever method is easier for you.  I began folding it away from me, but found that folding it toward me was much easier.  But, whatever is more comfortable for you.  


 You should be able to make 30 (thirty) ravioli.  Be sure to cover them with a moist paper towel or moist cotton towel.  When you lay the ravioli out on a plate or a pan, do not allow them to touch.  This is Very Important.  If they touch you may not be able to separate them, even by moistening further.  I was not careful, some of them touched, and I could not use them.  I lost five that way.  I learned my lesson: do not allow them to touch. Enough said.  

Meanwhile, have your oil heating over medium-high heat.  If you want to flavor the oil with garlic, smush a garlic clove and toss it in, skin and all, and then turn on the heat.  When it begins to sizzle, remove the garlic.  Your nose will tell you how wonderfully flavored the oil is!  The oil should be about 350 degrees. 

Add three ravioli and keep them separated. They will sizzle and may do pop and splatter due to the water we used or if some of the filling oozes out.  You may well want to wear a heavy apron during the frying time.  The ravioli will brown quite quickly, in less than two minutes.  Allow them turn golden brown and then turn them.  They will brown even further on the opposite side.  Total cook time should be no more than four minutes.  Nothing in the filling needs to cook, so you are essentially frying the outside and nicely warming up the interior ingredients.  Place them on a plate lined with parchment paper or, on a baking sheet with a rack over it.  You may want to place them in the oven at 200 degrees to keep them warm and crispy.  Frying upwards of thirty ravioli is a busy job, and can be take a bit of time.  

Tip:  If you are not going to fry up or boil all of your ravioli, they can easily be frozen.  Line the bottom of a container with parchment or waxed paper, place a layer of the ravioli atop the paper, carefully placing them so they do not touch, place another layer of parchment atop that, and create another layer.  You can remove them, partially thaw if you are going to fry them, or just place them in to boiling salted water to boil them. 

When you are ready to serve, add a dollop of the aromatic sauce to a plate, arrange the ravioli - whether you fried them, like I did, or boil them, as I did in my previous post - and add a little more sauce, if you like.  Top with a fresh basil garnish and enjoy.  I had fun scooping up the sauce with my ravioli.  You can always toss the ravioli in the sauce and add more parmesan or pecorino romano cheese. Whatever you are feeling!



I hope you enjoy this dish, as it was one of my favorites this autumn, thus far!