Eric Akis: Use wontons instead of pasta for ravioli

Eric Akis

If you like the idea of making your own ravioli, but don’t have the time or skill to make your own pasta, you can eliminate that step by replacing the pasta dough with store-bought wonton wrappers.

Wontons, of course, are most often filled with Asian-style ingredients, then cooked and served in a soup, or deep-fried and served with a sweet and sour sauce.

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But wonton wrappers, like plain pasta dough, have a neutral taste that works with any kind of filling, whether Asian or, in the case of ravioli, Italian-style.

To make the ravioli, I first made a filling that combined ricotta cheese with such ingredients as cooked, chopped baby kale, parmesan cheese, garlic, egg and oregano.

I then set some of the wonton wrappers needed for the ravioli on a work surface. I moistened their edges with water, then set some of the filling in the centre of each. The wonton wrappers were then topped with another wonton wrapper, and the edges were pressed and sealed together. For a more fanciful look, you can use a biscuit cutter to cut the ravioli into rounds.

The ravioli are now ready to be cooked in simmering water, drained and served with a sauce. I chose tomatoey marinara, which can be store-bought or homemade.

The recipe yields four servings of five large ravioli each. If that’s too many, some of the filled and sealed ravioli can be frozen solid, not touching, on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Once they’re frozen, transfer ravioli to a tightly sealing container and keep frozen until needed. Cook the ravioli from frozen, adding a few seconds to the cooking time, as you’ll be starting with an icy-cold product.

Wonton Ravioli with Ricotta and Kale

In this recipe, ready-to-use store-bought wonton wrappers replace the fresh pasta dough normally used to make ravioli. I like to serve the ravioli with a simple green salad and some crusty Italian bread.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes

Makes: four (five ravioli each) servings

2 1/2 oz. baby kale (see Note 1)

1 (250 gram) tub ricotta cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus some for the table

2 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs

1 large egg

1 medium garlic clove, minced

• pinch red pepper flakes, dried oregano and ground nutmeg

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• olive oil

40 fresh or frozen (thawed) wonton wrappers (see Note 2)

2 cups store-bought or homemade marinara sauce, warmed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the kale and cook until tender, about two minutes. Drain kale well, cool with cold water, then drain again. With your hands, firmly squeeze excess water out of the kale, then set on a cutting board.

Fairly finely chop the kale and set in a mixing bowl. Add ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, pepper flakes, oregano, nutmeg, salt and black pepper, and mix to combine.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lay 10 wonton wrappers on a work surface and moisten the edges with cold water. Spoon a heaping 1 Tbsp of the filling into the centre of each wrapper. Top each ravioli with another wonton wrapper and, with your fingers, firmly press edges together to seal (see Note 3). If desired, use a 2 1/2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter to cut each wonton ravioli into a round. Set the ravioli on one of the baking sheets, not touching.

Fill and seal the remaining wonton wrappers as you did the first batch and set them on one of the baking sheets, not touching.

Bring a large and wide pot of lightly salted water to a simmer over medium, medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 200 F.

When water is simmering, cook ravioli in batches of five for 90 seconds to two minutes, until the wrappers become tender and somewhat translucent. Carefully lift the ravioli out of the pot and set them back on one of the baking sheets, domed-side-up and not touching. Drizzle ravioli with a tiny bit of olive oil. Keep cooked ravioli warm in the oven. Cook the remaining ravioli as you did the first batch.

To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of marinara sauce on each of four heated plates. Set five ravioli on top of the sauce on each plate. At the table, let diners top them, to taste, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Note 1: Tubs of baby kale are sold at most supermarkets. They weigh 5 oz. (142 grams), so you’ll need half a tub of that kale for this recipe.

Note 2: Wonton wrappers are sold at many supermarkets, frozen or fresh, with the latter most often in the produce section.

Note 3: If you do not cut the ravioli into rounds, to ensure they tightly seal, use both your fingers and the tines of a fork to press and seal the edges of each ravioli together.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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