A Labor of Love....
Ricotta, Ground Turkey and Fresh Herbs Ravioli 
in Three Sauces

This recipe has been a three-months long labor of love.  I have made ravioli previously and have blogged the recipes, a couple of the sauces I used then I made for this blog post, too, only, I have progressed in my learning and understanding of the nuances that go into making delicately flavored sauces. I hope you will enjoy this rather lengthy (but complete with many photos) recipe post, make one or more of the sauces, whether you use homemade or semi-homemade ravioli (mine was semi-homemade) and simply enjoy them.  

I started off by saying this was a labor of love for three months. I started researching how to make simple yet flavorful ravioli, knowing that just a little bit of filling goes into the "usual" sized ravioli;  I wanted a big flavorful bite for each ravioli.  I finally found my blend of ingredients (see above the title).  However, I should have said "fresh" turkey sausage in the title because I had gone to my butcher who had just brought in fresh ground Italian turkey sausage; their Italian products, imported and specialty in-house products, are what they are known for.  It had not even been fully refrigerated yet before I'd purchased it. I was fully invested in making the filling and using fresh Round Wraps to make my ravioli.  I had planned on making the filling on a Friday as May quickly approached, then make the ravioli themselves on Saturday, but life got in the way and I had to do the unthinkable.......yes, I am deeply shamed.....I had to freeze it.  But, I have to say, even after an entire five or six weeks of being frozen, it still had the same kick of flavor as day one. Whew!  (Wiping embarrassingly dripping brow with a huge towel). 

Now that my confessional is over, let's move on to the good stuff.  Here is my list of filling ingredients.  Very simple, very delicious. 

Ravioli Filling Ingredients

1 bunch chives
four fresh basil leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
1 bunch fresh oregano sprigs
6 - 8 fresh sage leaves
1 pound (fresh) ground Italian sausage
1 lemon, zest and juice
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1.5 cups ricotta 
1/5 plain yogurt
1 clove garlic

I sauteed up the sausage and drained it completely. Meanwhile, I had coarsely chopped the basil, chives and sage as well as zest the lemon and juiced it.  In my mom's old 1970's food processor, I added half of the ricotta, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, half of the herbs, the yogurt and half of the lemon zest and juice and pulsed the mixture until thoroughly combined. 

When the turkey sausage had thoroughly cooled, I added half of it to the processor and thoroughly combined that.  Finally, I'd added the rest of the ingredients to the processor and completed the task. In my mind, I was wondering how people back in the day before kitchen electronics did this? What utensils and pots or even an Italian version of a molcajete might have been used, if such a thing existed? Hmmm, further course of study!  

Not the best picture, large, but this is what the mixture looks like, thickened by the sausage. 

Now, on to the sauces!

Sauce one is my basic tomato and basil marinara.  For my sauce I used:  1 28-ounce can Chef's Cut San Marzano tomatoes (Cento), three scallions (vs. red or vidalia), two cloves garlic and three fresh basil leaves, fresh oregano and thyme leaves, salt and pepper.  I placed the ingredients into my blender and streamed in two tablespoons or so of extra virgin olive oil.

Adding the fresh herbs to the tomatoes. 

I wanted the sauce to be smooth, so I blended it until it was very smooth. I cooked it over low-medium heat for nearly thirty minutes to allow the flavors to marry in a gentle manner. Well worth it, although I should have allowed it to simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes more.  When I served it, there was still a little bit of loose liquid associated with it. Lesson learned!   

Next Sauce!  Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Roasted sweet red pepper with scallion greens, two garlic cloves and fresh oregano, one tablespoon champagne vinegar, two teaspoons mirin, salt and pepper make up this simple, delightful, gently sweet sauce.  I have, in the past, added crushed red pepper flakes to give it a bite, but I wanted to use some gentle flavors, such as the scallion and champagne vinegar as opposed to red win or cider vinegar. 

One more view before blending smooth and silky, by adding a drizzle of evoo to the blender. 

Final sauce product on the stove top simmering gently on medium-low for ten minutes. 

Finally, the Grande Finale....
Brown Butter Sage Sauce....

For this final sauce, I used 2/3 stick of unsalted butter and three large sage leaves from my potted patio kitchen herbs garden. I gently allowed the butter to melt on medium-low (seems to be a theme today) with one crushed clove of garlic.  Once warm enough, I added three roughed up sage leaves.  Much of the flavor is found in the stems of the leaves, so I roughed them up with the blunt end of my chef's knife.  The aroma, once I'd placed the leaves in the steadily warming garlic-infused butter, was amazing.  I'd allowed the leaves to basically fry, removed them before serving the ravioli, and placed the fried leaves atop the ravioli as garnish.  The salty, piney crunch of the leaves was perfect!

My skills at filling and creating the perfect ravioli wraps, however, is a whole other story, and we must never speak of it.  It is not unlike, if any of you gentle readers recall, my first attempt at making tamales with my dear friend, Miss Maria.  More masa and filling ended up on the walls than in the tamales I made, as opposed to Miss Maria's most expertly formed and wrapped tamales.  My ravioli experience yesterday was much like that.  I did learn, however, that using one ply dough wraps is not enough.  They become extremely flimsy and break very easily.  Two-ply is perfect, and one can form nice, delicate shapes, and they still cook evenly and sturdily.  It was certainly trial and error.  Again, we must never speak of it.  

I simply put down a wrap round down on moist parchment paper, added a teaspoon of filling, moistened the round's edges and folded it in half, pressing out any air from the sides.  I tried making ridges (like a pie) and was successful with some, but dreadfully awful with the single-ply rounds, as you can see above.  Chalk it up to the concept of "live and learn".  

I brought four quarts of water to a roiling boil and generously salted the water.  I dropped in the ravioli one-by-one and, when they floated to the top, meaning that they were done, I used my strainer-spider to remove them and let them drip dry, which takes very little time. I added a few ravioli to each sauce, tossed them in it, plated them, and generously drizzled the sauce over them.  I topped the ravioli with my tomato basil marinara with Parmesan, Fontina and fresh basil.  I went a bit silly with the roasted red pepper sauce and placed a baby sweet Italian red pepper atop the ravioli as a garnish, and as mentioned previously, I placed the fried sage leaves atop the ravioli in brown butter sage sauce.  

The following are the ravioli plated.  Please enjoy the photo essay.  

I hope you have enjoyed this all-hands-on-deck ravioli with three sauces recipe blog post.  I also hope you decide to make one or all of them.  Tweak them to make them yours, as you please, as that is what recipes and cooking for loved ones is all about.  Making incredible flavors yours, made with love for them. With that, Go Cook For Someone You Love!!!

As always, Thank You for your time and consideration, gentle readers! 

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