If I had to guess, I would say there have been a lot of people making ravioli from scratch during Covid lockdown. A post I wrote way back in the early stages of this blog has been blowing up lately. Yes, I am talking about my post on what to do with leftover ravioli filling. It seems that the people of the Internet are seeking answers about ravioli.
I wrote that post before I even imagined I’d actually go to a culinary program. Now that I have received my training and gained all these new skills, I wanted to offer an update to my original post. This post coincides with the second anniversary of my blog. I cannot think of a better way to honor this day.
In the early weeks of quarantine lockdown, I tested a few of my initial ideas for how to use that leftover ravioli filling. First, let me start my answering a few frequently asked questions about ravioli filling.
1. You can keep ravioli filling in the fridge for up to a week. I guess you could keep it longer, but like most perishable food, if you hold it in the fridge for over a week, you are increasing your risk of getting a foodborne illness. That wouldn’t stop my dad from eating something, but I tend to follow the food safety guidelines, even in my own kitchen.
2. Yes, you can freeze leftover ravioli filling. However, many ravioli fillings include ingredients where liquid easily separates upon freezing and thawing, leaving a watery product, much different than prior to freezing. These ingredients include squash purees, spinach, and ricotta cheese. If you do choose to freeze ravioli filling, I recommend straining after defrosting.
3. Most ravioli has raw egg in it as a binder/coagulant. As much as ravioli filling looks good enough to eat by the spoonful, I don’t recommend it. You should use the leftover filling in a way that cooks it prior to consumption.
Back in March, I had this amazing ravioli filling that I used with leftover butternut squash puree. So when I used this leftover filling, I was really repurposing something I already repurposed. Did I turn this into a project just so I could write this post? Fine, I will admit the answer was yes. What can I say, I had time on my hands and felt like experimenting.
Here was the ravioli filling: roughly 4-5 cups butternut squash puree, two cups ricotta cheese, one cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, 2 eggs, two tablespoons finely diced fresh sage, and salt/pepper to taste. Basically, I put all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed until homogenized.
My first experiment involved sourdough pizza crust. To this day, I am not sure exactly what happened to my pizza crust, but I did something funky to it…really funky…and it wasn’t just the sourdough talking. I have never made pizza dough that just couldn’t be stretched out without falling apart. I think my sourdough starter was a little too fermented and I needed to feed it first before attempting this.
However, I set my mind on making this pizza, so I wanted to see what would happen if I try and roll out the pizza with a rolling pin and proceed. I simply spread some of the ravioli filling on the pizza dough and topped it with sliced shiitake mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. I baked this pizza at 425 degrees until the crust was golden brown and the cheese was adequately melted.
As you can tell from the above pictures, this was one ugly pizza. I was honestly expecting something nasty to come out of my oven. Yes, it was still not the greatest looking pizza, but it was surprisingly good. I topped the pizza with some prosciutto and arugula and gave it a light drizzle of balsamic glaze.
The crust was dense and chewy, but I liked the sourdough funk. How was the “sauce”? Why, that was the best part! The ricotta cheese mixed with the smooth puree gave this pizza a creamy texture, while the butternut and sage provided a wonderful savory feel. I love the warmth that sage provided to any dish it joins.
Given that the only thing wrong with this pizza had nothing to do with the ravioli filling, I would say this experiment was a success. Ravioli filling can indeed work as a great substitute for pasta sauce. Make sure to pick toppings that pair well with your ravioli filling. Also, if you want to thin out the filling to have a more sauce-like consistency, you could stir in a little milk or cream until the texture smooths out.
For my second experiment, I wanted to see if I could turn my ravioli filling into a pasta sauce. Butternut squash, ricotta cheese, sage. Don’t those just sound like a perfect pairing for pasta?
To turn this into sauce, I scooped some of the ravioli filling into a pan over low heat. Slowly, I poured some whole milk into the pot and stirred to combine. While the sauce reduced, I had popped some homemade orecchiette into a pot of boiling water. If too much liquid evaporates, you can always add a little more milk. For an even richer sauce, you could add a little heavy cream. What a decadence that would be! I didn’t have any on hand, but I did end up adding a little more milk to get the sauce smooth and creamy before adding the cooked pasta.
Handmade pasta does not take long to cook, so I had a careful eye on the pot. Pasta is best served when it finishes cooking in the sauce. I always take the pasta out when it is just under al dente, so it won’t be overcooked when you serve it.
I also added some sautéed shiitake mushrooms to the pasta and topped it with crispy prosciutto that I pan-fried in olive oil, and of course, this dish needed a sprinkle of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. I would be so lost without my microplane.
I admit that this finished dish looks a bit like a strange attempt at mac and cheese, but it was quite different. This pasta stands in its own category. The orecchiette was delightfully chewy and was lusciously coated with the creamy pasta sauce. Again, sage’s presence was very much welcome. Have you ever made a pasta dish that was so good, you had a hard time not eating all of it? Like the monster restaurant portion that you swore you could never finish, but it easily disappears. Yeah, that’s how I felt, but I did manage some self control so I could have food for lunch at work the next day. I am having such fond memories of this pasta. I would say this was another success for the repurposed ravioli filling experiment.
I’m a little sad this took me so long to write. The state of things around me has made me lose a lot of my motivation over the past few months. I can’t promise that won’t happen again in the future, but today, I felt inspired to write. I almost forgot about my blog anniversary. What a wild two years it has been! I am so grateful for every person who has taken the time to read my posts.