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Recipe of the Week: Ricotta Cheese and Herb Ravioli with Asparagus Cream Sauce

By CHEF LORETTA PAGANINI - | Apr 6, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Chef Loretta Paganini

These ravioli are the Paganini family’s Easter tradition. My husband’s grandfather, Emilio, came to the United States as a young man from Genova, Italy, and continued the tradition of making fresh ravioli for special occasions, especially the holidays for the whole family to enjoy. Serves eight (Chef tip: To make egg wash, mix together in a small bowl one large egg and one teaspoon of water.)

BASIC DOUGH:

2 cups Italian “00” or All-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon sea salt

FILLING:

2 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh herbs (chives, Italian parsley, basil)

4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, well drained

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Egg wash, as needed

To make the dough, place the flour on a wooden board and form into a mound. Make a deep well in the center and break eggs into it. Add the wine and salt. Use a fork to break up the eggs and mix the contents of the well.

Slowly add flour, beginning at the top of a well so the walls collapse and blend into the mixture. When flour is almost totally absorbed begin kneading, pressing with the palms of your hands. Knead the dough for about 20 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. (If dough is dry, add a few drops of water. If sticky, add a sprinkle of flour.)

Gather the dough into a ball, place in a mixing bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 minutes. (To test for readiness, punch the dough with your index finger. If it springs back, it’s done.)

In a large bowl mix all filling ingredients together: ricotta, eggs, garlic, herbs, parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.

To assemble ravioli, roll out a long thin sheet of dough and cut it into 12-by-6-inch pieces. Take one piece of dough and place on a ravioli tray, lightly brush with egg wash. Fill with a teaspoon of the prepared filling each ravioli chamber, top with a second sheet and seal with the help of a rolling pin. Invert the tray and cut ravioli and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat the process until all the pasta and filling has been used.

Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water for about four to five minutes and then toss it with asparagus cream sauce.

ASPARAGUS CREAM SAUCE:

This creamy and delicious sauce’s flavor is enhanced by fresh herbs and asparagus. This is a favorite dish of my city — Bologna, Italy — where this sauce is made many times with the addition of prosciutto. Makes about two cups. (Chef tip: Store your fresh herbs in a container filled with water in the refrigerator.)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1/4 cup dry sherry wine

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into thin pieces, reserve the tips

2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

In a medium saucepan, cook shallots in olive oil until translucent and soft. Stir in sherry and cook until wine is evaporated.

Add in cream and asparagus, reserve the tips and bring to a boil. Reduce until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Add in fresh herbs and asparagus tips. Toss with cooked ravioli. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve at once.