Did you know that the singular form of ravioli is raviolo? Just found that out yesterday, and I think it's great.
Spring has definitely sprung here in the Bay Area, and the market has been vibrant with new and exciting fruits, vegetables, and fungi. Strawberries, cherries, asparagus, artichokes, and wild morel mushrooms have all made it home with me over the past couple of weeks, some of them only to be devoured before I've even unpacked my bags from the market.
Those green and white stalks in the picture above are big stalks of green garlic. Green garlic is simply young garlic that has not yet matured into a full-grown head of garlic. It's delicate garlic flavor is milder than that of regular garlic but potent enough to add a nice kick to pastas, salads, eggs, etc. This was my first time cooking with it and I loved it.
To celebrate the bounty of spring, Mady and I decided to try our hand at homemade ravioli. It's one of those meals that's been on our to-do list for quite some time now, and we had picked up all the perfect ingredients for a ravioli filling at the market: fresh spinach, green garlic, and what the Peruvian guy at Bodega Goat Cheese likes to call "a little slice of heaven."
Let me start this conversation about ravioli off by first saying that this was our first time making ravioli. Well, I used to help my half-Italian grandmother make her famous ravioli when I was younger, but back then I didn't even know that raviolo was the singular form of ravioli so how in the heck could I know what I was doing?? Joking of course, but really, much has changed since those days of being a care-free kid just helping grandma out. This is serious business now.
But not so serious that Mady and I thought to look up any ravioli recipes or tutorials. Nope, just decided to wing it with our usual pasta dough and this time we didn't even use a pasta machine. If Italian grandmothers can roll out dough to form a delicate, almost see-through raviolo, then why can't we?
Well, as it turns out, we ain't got nothin' on Italian grandmothers. Our dough was just a bit too thick, and consequently our filling-to-dough ratio was a bit too low. NONETHELESS, the ravioli were delicious and I can't wait to make them again. Next time I think we'll break out the pasta machine and perhaps pass the dough through it on its widest setting.
For the filling, we sautéed a finely diced yellow onion, a finely diced stalk of green garlic (you can use the white and tender green parts of it), and some chopped spinach with a few spices (salt, pepper, plus a few other things I just threw in - sumac, smoked paprika, and Rancho Gordo's oregano indio). It was all good on its own and it was even better with "a little slice of heaven" goat cheese in the ravioli.
For the sauce, I did a riff on Heidi's "magic sauce" from 101 Cookbooks. I am obviously a fan of her recipes, and many of the flavor combinations and new ingredients that I attempt to cook with are inspired by her cooking. This sauce was particularly enticing to me. It's just a mixture of heated olive oil with a blend of herbs, spices, and garlic, but it packs a punch and is incredibly versatile.
Instead of sweet paprika, however, I used a spicy smoked paprika. I also used basil instead of rosemary because that's what I had on hand. Holy moly this sauce was good. It really is magic sauce, and I wish that I'd made a quadruple batch.
There are so many different kinds of paprika on the shelf at the supermarket - Hungarian paprika can range from sweet to spicy and Spanish paprika can be mild, spicy, smoked, etc. The smoked paprika (also known as Pimentón Ahumado) is amazing. I have been throwing it in everything recently. The flavor really shines when it's heated gently in oil - which is why this magic sauce really is something else.
Our ravioli has not yet achieved recipe-worthy status, but the flavors here worked perfectly together. Spinach, goat cheese, and green garlic in little pockets of dough, drizzled in a magic sauce of smoked paprika, herbs, garlic, and Meyer lemon. This sauce would also be magical over fish or with eggs or tossed with some stir-fried vegetables.
SMOKED PAPRIKA SAUCE (adapted
slightly from Heidi Swanson’s Magic Sauce)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh basil
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1-2 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
- 2 medium cloves of garlic
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (the spicy variety is particularly delicious)
- 1 well-crumbled bay leaf
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh Meyer lemon juice
Gently warm the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet or pan, until it is just hot. When hot remove from heat.
While the oil is heating, give the herbs a rough chop. In a mortar and pestle, pound the two cloves of garlic and salt into a paste. Add the chopped herbs to the mortar and pestle and lightly pound them into the garlic paste.
When the oil is hot, add the garlic herb mixture to the oil along with the rest of the ingredients.
As Heidi notes, you can use the sauce immediately, but the flavors will only get better after the oil has been left to age over a few days.
And don't forget - make AT LEAST a double-batch of this stuff for good measure. It'll be gone in no time.