arugula ravioli

At times, I’m sure I’m the only person in on earth who feels this way, but I’m not crazy about things stuffed with cheese. Save for a once-a-year indulgence of baked macaroni and a rare grilled cheese sandwich, I just don’t enjoy cheese by the cheek full. It feels too rich, indulgent. I think cheese was meant to be savored, bite-wise, in a setting where its delicate twists and turns can be pondered. It seems whenever the quantity is amplified, it has an inverse effect on the quality. Frankly, the dry, flat stuff that fills most ravioli is just depressing.

making arugula ravoili

It’s also boring. Years ago, in a tiny, nearly-empty restaurant in Venice, I had a taste of what ravioli could be were its potential ever actualized. Minced porcini and wild mushrooms bound ever-so-slightly by ricotta, or perhaps in hindsight, breadcrumbs, filled a thin, almost translucent piece of pasta, which floated in a subdued puddle of tomato broth. It was perfect, innovative, lightweight and healthful. I came as close as ever to recreating it in November, though stopped short of the tomato broth, serving them instead pierogi-style.

making arugula ravoili

It hasn’t fulfilled my determination to find other pasta fillings in which cheese plays only a supporting role. Artichokes are great, perfect really, but what about all the other vegetables we incorporate in Italian cooking–eggplant, zucchini, bitter greens, dried tomatoes, herbs. What about arugula? Easily one of my favorite flavors on earth, this is one of those things that I knew if I ever wanted to make a filling of, I’d be on my own. In fact, no matter how many cookbooks or websites I’ve browsed, I’m still surprised that when you want to make a non-cheese or non lobster-filled ravioli, you’re left with almost no guidance.

arugula ravoili

Thus, these arugula ravioli were an effort in trial and error, though the error came mostly in the form of this new ravioli maker I purchased on my day off Monday. (Also, new cutting boards and a new bread stone. I believe I’m now banned from Bowery Kitchen Supply on my day off. In my defense, I stopped short of the banneton when I realized even the small one was $32! In my own criticism, I had actually just gone there looking for a couche. I digress.) Did you read the furkin’ manual, you ask? Ha! I don’t need no stinkin’ manual. I’ll just use my intuition, which as you may have seen coming, caused terrific frustration. Note to everyone, but mostly me, though I’ll never forget again: flour your molds! The first batch of ravioli, the one I smugly modeled for the camera, went in the garbage, wholly unsalvageable. The second batch, the one in which I dumped the top plate altogether (those jagged edges are useless cutting tools, anyway) and just used the base–yes, floured–and a pastry wheel to get the edges, were far more successful.

arugula ravoili

The filling, thank goodness, was far less drama. I cleaned, dried, and took the large stems off two bunches of arugula, chopped it and sautéed them with minced garlic and shallots. I added a few tablespoons of freshly-pulsed breadcrumbs for absorption, a third of a cup of grated Romano cheese and an egg yolk, to bind it. We loved, loved, loved the filling and it paired deliciously with a simple pasta sauce of quartered cherry tomatoes sautéed in a pan of butter, cooked down slightly with water.

I think it’s clear this was kind of a ridiculous amount of labor–making pasta, making filling, rolling it out, filling and cutting them, cooking the noodles, making a sauce, etc.–but I really didn’t mind anything but the chucking of 12 gummed-on ravioli. I want to get this right. I’ve said this before, but I think a lot of what gets us in the kitchen is a pursuit of something, and in this episode, it’s something that inspired me, changed the way I saw a mundane food almost ten years ago. I’ve been so eager to pick up where that left me off, I didn’t get impatient the way I usually do when it’s taken an hour and a half beyond what I’d anticipated. I have a feeling I’ll be trying another version frightfully soon.


Arugula Ravioli

If you have a ravioli press, use it’s directions to assemble your ravioli, though I can’t underline enough that you should go as thin as you and your dough can handle and to flour, flour, flour. Instructions for making ravioli without the molds, or with wonton wrappers, follow.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces arugula, washed, dried, coarse stems removed and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs measured from 2 slices or one half of a roll, pulsed in the food processor until reduced to soft crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg yolk (reserve egg white for sealing)

1 half-batch of fresh pasta–or–1 package of wonton wrappers
1 egg white beaten with two tablespoons of water to seal ravioli

Make Filling: Heat olive oil in a large pan at medium heat. Saute shallots and garlic for 7 to 10 minutes, until they are soft and translucent, but not brown. Add arugula, turning and stirring it frequently, until it has cooked down, its water has largely evaporated but it hasn’t lost it’s color — about 3 to 5 minutes. Let mixture cool, then add bread crumbs and Romano cheese. Taste filling and season it as needed with salt and pepper. Add the egg yolk, stirring mixture until combined. Set aside.

To Make Ravioli Without a Ravioli Mold: Cut your pasta dough into 4 pieces, then flatten each piece into a rough rectangle and cover rectangles with an inverted large bowl. Set rollers of pasta machine on widest setting.

Lightly dust 1 rectangle with flour and feed through rollers. (Keep remaining rectangles under bowl.) Fold rectangle in half and feed it, folded end first, through rollers 7 or 8 more times, folding it in half each time and feeding folded end through. Dust with flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Turn dial to next (narrower) setting and feed dough through rollers without folding. Continue to feed dough through rollers once at each setting, without folding, until you reach narrowest setting. Dough will be a smooth sheet (about 24 inches long and 4 inches wide).

Put sheet of dough on a floured work surface and drop 6 (1 1/2 teaspoon) mounds of filling 1 1/2 inches apart in a row down center of one half of sheet. Brush egg wash around each mound, then fold other half of sheet over filling. Press down firmly around each mound, forcing out air. (Air pockets increase the chance that ravioli will break during cooking.) Cut pasta (between mounds) with cutter into 3-inch rounds. Line a large shallow baking pan with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and dust towel with flour, then arrange ravioli in 1 layer in it. Make more ravioli with remaining pasta dough, 1 sheet at a time, and remaining filling, transferring ravioli to lined pan.

To Make Ravioli From Wonton Wrappers: Line 2 baking sheets with heavy-duty foil; spray foil with nonstick spray. Place 4 wonton wrappers on work surface; cover remaining wrappers with plastic to prevent drying. Lightly brush entire surface of each wrapper with egg white. Spoon 1 generous teaspoon filling into center of each wrapper. Fold wrappers diagonally in half, forming triangles. Press edges firmly to seal. Arrange ravioli on prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Cooking time will vary, depending on the thickness of your dough.

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56 comments on arugula ravioli

  1. Fel

    I smilled when I saw the pictogram of using the ravioli mold because my husband & I bought the exact model a few months back and were left feeling like dunces. Seemed simple enough but we were also left with ruined batches & ended-up rolling a glass over the metal mold and plopping them out one by one, by hand.

    We never could figure out, at the risk of sounding completely dumb, how to properly use the plastic piece…

  2. Alice

    Hi Deb. In regards to housekeeping, I just wanted to let you know that I “subscribed” to your blog so I didn’t have to spastically check it constantly for updates, but I didn’t get a notice of your new posting. (Yes, I checked to see if it was working.) Maybe it’s user error, but I thought I’d throw that out there.
    Thank you and have a great day.

  3. Oooh those look lovely. I, too, haven’t had really good ravioli in a while. Not since my Aunt Loretta’s annual Italian night. I hate that it seems like it’s always served with a heavy cream sauce or a canned marinara. *pout* And, I agree on the fillings, this coming from a self-professed cheese lover. (We could talk about the wall of cheese at this one market…but this is your show.)

    On the tech side: I’ve had some issues with the flickr photos appearing. I don’t know if it’s a firefox issue or network at work. But the CSS and everything else, has been okay.

  4. Kim

    i had an amazing pumpkin ravioli served with sauteed (i think) portabella baby mushrooms and shaved parmigiano reggiano the other day. the pumpkin was just a tad sweet and very creamy. maybe something for you to experiment with!

  5. deb

    Fel — I’m glad it’s not just us. I couldn’t figure out the plastic part, until I found a video using the same press on Apparently, you are supposed to place the sheet of pasta over the ridged, metal part with holes and then use the white plastic bumpy piece to make half-circle indentations in the pasta. Then you can fill it. This seems counter-intuitive to me. The whole idea is for the tool to help you alleviate the air bubbles inside the ravioli, but this seems easier to do if the pockets are pressed against something firm, that will allow you to know when it’s full enough, and not just being stretched and stretched. Love the way I worked this out before forking over $18 for a tool of dubious use!

    Alice — Good to know. Despite it being quite awful these days, I’m still using Bloglines which often takes hours to show a site has updated, others it will show immediately. I hear Google Reader also takes a while to show updates. May I ask what you’re using?

    Kristen — Thank you.

    Maura — Yeah, I dumped the border in some haphazard attempt at embracing “whitespace.” Yet, I can’t break up with justified type or fixed widths. Ah, well. One day at a time.

    Jenifer — Good to know about the Flickr photos. And I love cheese, too, but smaller quantities. I always think of it like an accent, not a main course.

  6. LyB

    AH! There we go! Ok, so lovely looking ravioli! Here’s a recipe that might give you some ideas for new fillings. It’s from a Food Network Canada show called Ricardo and Friends. I’ve never tried it myself, but it sounds great, also like the chef on that show ;) Sorry I don’t know how to make this a link so I just copy pasted…

    Hope you find it inspiring!

  7. sunshine

    I totally agree with you about cheese! Cheese is an accent, not the main event (except for pizza, but only if it’s from a real pizzeria). My cultural background isn’t high on cooked cheese (Irish and German – I’m lucky I like anything good!), and now that I’m living in Philadelphia I’m constantly bombarded with absurd quantities of low-quality cheese melted into everything. The really frustrating part is that I’m a vegetarian, and the default veggie option almost everywhere is a cheese-centered dish with a few vegetable “accents”. As a result I’m afraid I’ve become a bit of an anti-cheese crusader when I eat out, and nobody seems to get it. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t find fatty and creamy to be the ultimate food texture.

  8. Alice

    I clicked “subscribe” on the left side of your page, and then it directed me to sign-up through FeedBlitz. I just checked and it said I was subscribed to your blog, so I guess I did it correctly.
    Who knows? I may just need to learn patience, something seldom practiced in this information age.
    Thank you, again.

  9. deb

    Kim — That sounds really delcious. Just the squash would feel heavy, but with the mushrooms, it would be great as a fall dish. Thank you!

    LyB — I love that idea. I didn’t think I liked veal before, but I had veal and cauliflower ravioli at Del Posto a few weeks ago and thought it was great. Actually, I often find that meats I don’t particularly love alone or roasted, I like in smaller quantities in dumplings. Thus my obsession with pocketed doughs. Thanks for the idea.

    Sunshine — Oh, I totally agree. All those years I was a vegetarian (15!), I got so tired of the obviously pre-frozen cheese ravioli they’d serve on the plane or at weddings as a “veggie meal” did not help its cause.

    Alice — Aha! I’m glad I asked. Feedblitz is an email update, but they only go out once a day, often late at night, I think. So, you do find out only once a day when I’ve updated. But, people who can’t get to my site from work or like things in email format seem to like it. Thanks for subscribing!

  10. There’s this little place Russo’s near me that makes their own pasta/ravioli. I adore the radicchio agnolotti, the filling is dark purple and full of wonderful flavor. I’ve dreamed of making my own but when they’re so close, why bother. (It’s on E 13th, next door to Veneiro’s). .

  11. I have similar looking ravioli maker, but it’s just one metal piece with half rounds for the ravioli and raised horizontal and vertical zig zaggy lines (I don’t know if that makes sense). I have a friend who won’t eat cheese at all and who loves ravioli, so we make him a first course of squash ravioli with brown butter lemon sauce and fried sage for his birthday. Lately we’ve been making them more often, but I’m sure that will calm down once the warm weather truly arrives. Except for now I’ve just remembered Heidi’s post at 101 cookbooks about using ravioli when making pasta salad. I guess more ravioli is on the horizon. I’d be interested in more ideas for fillings as I tend to stick to traditional preparations (with cheese or without).

  12. deb

    Hilary — Good to know, but I thought I had my wordpress set up to automatically ping. God, I love that word.

    Mercedes — Oh, I must must go. Radicchio is high on my list of filling I want to play with. And it’s so close. (I feel this way about bagels, btw. I live way too close to a Murray’s to ever try my hand at my own!)

  13. I learned a trick from a Taiwanese colleague about handling vegetables for jiaozi fillings… you can rub greens or even mushrooms with salt a bit, let them rest 10 minutes or so, and they tend to shrink, which lets you get away with cooking them less, not to mention less time waiting for the filling to cool… You might try that with the arugula, though I suspect gently caramelizing the onions would still be desirable. You can rinse them if they’re a bit too salty.

    Greens stay greener that way. For other dumplings, I often used to blanch (briefly boil then shock with ice water) greens like spinach, which also works quite well, especially to retain a nice color. One Seattle-area chef mostly makes pestos by blanching the herbs for just a few seconds, which makes them much brighter, and the flavor doesn’t really suffer.

  14. Site looks A-OK, loaded in a jif using Safari.

    While I’m very pleased for any recipe that employs arugula, I am MOST pleased to learn of Bowery Kitchen Supply! I’m heading to NYC this weekend (tix to see Kevin Spacey on Broadway next week!) and am staying at The Bowery Hotel.

    It’s not like I was lacking for things to do, but I MUST make a stop at BKS! Looks like heaven!

  15. deb

    Beth — It’s more like a cluttered, tiny mess, but it does have a shocking amount of stuff, and often super-cheap. They fancy themselves a restaurant supplier, so you can get something like a saucing spoon for $3 and not $10, like at Williams-Sonoma.

    LyB — Just found your lost comments in my spam-keeper. It gets a little over-zealous when it sees a link in a comment, sorry! However, it’s supposed to “learn from its mistakes,” hilariously enough, so it should mean that next time it will know you are not trying to sell us v!@gra. (Watch this get stuck in there, too!) I deleted the repeats.

  16. I get addicte to making ravioli too- so many amazing things to try! Recently I made a beet ravioli (I think the recipe was from Gourmet) with a butter/parmesan/poppy seed sauce. So tasty and pretty! My meat-obsessed boyfriend even said he didn’t miss the meat. There is something very crafty about making ravioli and I just can’t get over how fun it is.

  17. If I lived near Bowery Kitchen Supply, I’d be in trouble, too. Went there a few weeks ago on a quick visit to NYC, and walked out $100+ poorer (but, oh yes, happier)! It’s fun to master a new piece of equipment, even something as fundamentally low-tech as a ravioli mold. And once you do master it, you’ll never want to eat store-bought ravioli again. Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

  18. deb

    Smoo — I saw that recipe! I wished I liked beets, because it looked fa-bu-lous. I have my eye on their pea ravioli in a lemon broth next. Spring in a bowl, right?

    Lydia — Indeed. But, being so close allows me to also not buy so much. There are ALWAYS things I want for the kitchen, but I buy them one at a time. Except Monday. Heheh.

  19. The website for Cucina Italiana (the magazine) has quite a few recipes for vegetable ravioli. They’ve certainly got cheese in them, too (usually ricotta), but they’re worth checking out (broccoli rabe, fava bean, porcini, chard…).

  20. Having difficult experience in the kitchen builds a cook’s character, you become more aware of techniques, flavors and textures. Although it sucks to have to throw away the product of one’s labor, it makes you want to tackle the beast again. I am looking forward to your new experiments.
    I can see your site just fine with my little old IE.
    That store in NY reminds me of a couple of favorites in Paris and I wish I could have one next to me here!
    Beautiful shots.

  21. ann

    mmmmm…. paaaasta…. pasta filled with aruuuguuula… *drool*
    I still haven’t bought my pasta roller I promised myself when we moved. I must hop on that stat!

  22. Oh wow. They look so yummy. I to love arugula. Yum. Herloom tomatos, fresh mozzarella and arugula salad with a dash of white truffle oil and basamic vinigar. Drool. When will summer be here!

  23. Your ravioli are gorgeous! Another not-too-cheesy idea for filling: winter squash (ideally cooked over a smoky grill), roasted garlic, and sage. I put in a little Parmesan or ricotta but I don’t think either is essential to the dish.

  24. jessica fantastica

    The only problem I had was that the site just would not load at all aroun 3:00 AM this morning. It works now so that’s solved. I use IE and have never had any other problem viewing your (awesome) site.

  25. I am not having any problems loading your site, but once again, I am struck dumb by the lovely photos. Ravioli from scratch is a labor of love, your form looks great and I am glad to see you managed to get some good pillows out of it. The filling sounds terrific! I am more inclined to enjoy a more savory ravioli, wishing with all my might to open a restaurant menu and see something OTHER than chicken, lobster, butternut squash or cheese filled pasta pillows….come ON chefs du jour! All that brain and no creativity?? I am crushed. Guess I need to do it myself!

  26. I recently discovered your blog. As a fellow New York blogger, I’m impressed both by your cooking as well as by your photography. Keep up the delicious looking work!

    PS – I’ve also made ravioli. It is a lot of work, but so worth it when finished…. you’ve made me want to do it again!

  27. C

    I’m with you on the cheese thing. I’ve noticed that a lot of those generic chain restaurants (such as Applebees or Ruby Tuesday) like to boast that some item on their menu is “SMOTHERED in CHEESE!” and I wonder how that is supposed to sound appealing. They’ll take something like a piece of grilled chicken, that would be delicious on its own, and melt a mountain of low-quality of chedder all over it so you can’t even appreciate it. And people love that stuff too.

    Anyway, I’m a big arugula fan too, and I think this is a great idea!

  28. Yvo

    I have to say. I do NOT like things that are filled with cheese. I like cheese and don’t mind eating it in quantity (though I do feel gross after) but ravioli, tortellini, stuffed shells even usually escape my enjoyment. Ah well.

  29. Deb, you never cease to amaze me with your beautiful creations. I now find myself wanting a ravioli maker and to make my own dozen little gummy creations! Thank you. You inspire me to be a better cook.

  30. rupmani

    The place I am here in Jerusalem can not find good quality wrapper for spring rolls, and I am trying to make home make dough so I would like to know how do you make the mixture for the wrappers!

    Thank you,


  31. v

    We made this tonight with the addition of goat cheese, and the wonton wrappers, and it was delicious!! We thought that regular pasta might be a bit better, but overall, it had a really fantastic taste. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  32. Amy

    I am new to reading your blog, but I love it. I am not sure if you like to have recipes shared with you, but if you are interested I have a wonderful “not featuring cheese” ravioli filling recipe you might like. Wonton wrappers or pasta will work for it. My husband and I consider it our signature dish – but I like sharing. email if you would like it!

  33. i honestly thought that was an ice cube tray when i first opened this post… and i thought, what a fabulous gadget! whoops, i was mistaken! guess i’ve been brainwashed by alton brown’s “no unitaskers” for too long, hehe. i need to bust out my kitchenaid for some pasta dough soon… it seems simple enough and tasty, to boot!

  34. This is a nice twist. I can agree with you on wanting to substitute the cheese for something else. Sometimes enough is enough, you know?

    That ravioli maker looks great, I have to pick one of those up. These turned out looking incredible! Nice work.

  35. Lisa

    Was going to make this one but then read your story of ravioli in Venice and couldn’t resist! I know this was a post against cheese but using the relative portions in this recipe I made Deb’s fresh ricotta and added mushrooms, shallots and panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Very light and simple, perfect.

    I do not own a pasta machine or a ravioli mold (Our kitchens are smaller than NYC kitchens here in Tokyo) so did this completely by hand. Made the dough slightly on the soft side (On previous try pasta was too tough to roll out thin enough by hand) and turned out beautifully.

    Thanks again Deb!

  36. Anita

    Made this last night- they were delicious. I did use baby arugula and about three times as much garlic. I did not use a ravioli maker- just folded over the dough and it worked fine. The slightly bitter ravioli contrasted perfectly with the sweet, almost-creamy tomatoes. Loved it.

  37. meredith

    made these with kale and wonton wrappers. so good!! used an entire bunch of kale so i had some extra filling but it was delicious heated up with a soft boiled egg on top a couple of days later!

  38. Came across your recipe around 10:00 PM tonight. Decided to go for it right away. Made pasta, made the filling and stewed the cherry tomatoes. I know I’m going to love my lunch tomorrow. Thank you for the recipe!

    I wish I could add my pictures.

  39. Julia

    I’m making this for Christmas Eve dinner, and trying to figure out how much to make. How many raviolis does this make/how many people does this serve? Thanks!!!