These ravioli with bitter greens are an elegant dish for family and company. Fresh pasta is rolled out and filled with greens, such as escarole or chicory, as well as ericotta and mozzarella. The ravioli is then cooked, and topped with brown butter-walnut sauce. Cheese, lemon juice, and parsley knock it out of the park.
Ravioli with bitter greens not only sounds like a restaurant-quality dish, it tastes like it, too. It’s simply homemade pasta filled with sautéed greens and a couple kinds of cheese and then the whole shebang is gilded with walnut-parsley butter. Its refined elegance comes together with more ease than you’d expect and is certain to impress dinner guests. As an added incentive to make these, you can assemble the ravioli and freeze them so all you have to do when it comes to dinner is slip them in some hot water or layer them into an easy skillet lasagna. You’re welcome.–Angie Zoobkoff
Ravioli with Bitter Greens
- Pasta roller; ravioli or large cookie cutter (optional)
For the pasta dough
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
- 1 tablespoon semolina flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 large or extra-large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (15 to 30 ml)
For the bitter greens filling
- 1 pound bitter greens such as escarole, chicory, dandelion greens, or radicchio
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 smallish shallots diced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup cow’s milk ricotta drained
- 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese cut into small dice
For the finished ravioli and sauce
- Semolina flour for the work surface
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- 3 sticks salted butter
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts lightly toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
Make the pasta dough
- Grab your food processor, toss in the all-purpose and semolina flours, salt, and nutmeg, and pulse briefly to mix. Add the eggs and process just until combined. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil and process until the mixture forms curd-like crumbs. When you pinch the dough, it should form a soft ball. If the dough seems too dry, drizzle in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. (If you used large eggs rather than extra-large eggs, you’ll probably need to add that remaining 1 tablespoon oil.) If the dough seems too wet and sticky, add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and process briefly.
- Turn the pasta dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it’s smooth and firm but pliable, 2 to 5 minutes. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Make the bitter greens filling
- While the pasta dough is resting, remove any thick stems from the greens and then cut the leaves crosswise into thin shreds.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. When the butter starts to foam, add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add a couple handfuls greens to the skillet and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until they start to wilt, about 2 minutes. Uncover and stir or toss to combine. Then add more greens and repeat until you’ve added all the greens. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, uncovered, until the greens are quite wilted and soft, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and season lightly with pepper. Let cool briefly and then drain well, firmly pressing on the greens to remove any excess liquid. Transfer the greens to a cutting board and finely chop them.
- In a bowl, combine the greens, ricotta, and mozzarella and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the ravioli
- Dust a work surface and 2 rimmed baking sheets with semolina flour. Before you roll out the dough, cut it into 4 equal pieces. Cover 3 pieces with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature. Briefly knead the 4th piece on a lightly floured surface. Set the rollers of a pasta machine to the widest setting and then crank the dough through the rollers. Fold the dough into thirds and pass it through the rollers again. Repeat the folding and rolling 2 or 3 times until the dough is smooth. Reset the rollers one width narrower and crank the dough through the setting twice, then adjust the rollers to the next narrowest setting. Continue to pass the dough through the rollers, twice on each setting, until you have a long, very thin sheet, about 1/16-inch (2-mm) thick. (If the sheets get too long and unwieldy, cut them in half crosswise and roll out the halves separately.) Place the dough on a floured work surface and cover it with a kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of pasta dough.
- Place 1 sheet of pasta dough on your floured work surface with a long edge facing you. Spoon 1 scant tablespoon filling along the center of the dough sheet at 3- to 3 1/2-inch (7.5- to 9-cm) intervals. Using the back of the spoon, flatten each mound slightly. Dip your finger in water and lightly moisten the edges of the dough and the area between the mounds. Carefully place a second sheet of dough on top of the first and gently press down between the mounds to seal the dough and remove any air bubbles. Using a pastry cutter, cut the sheets of dough into large ravioli about 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) square. (Alternately, if you have a ravioli cutter or a large square or round cookie cutter, you can use that to cut the ravioli.) Transfer the ravioli to the prepared baking sheets, making sure the ravioli aren’t touching. Repeat with the remaining pasta dough and filling. You should have 24 to 28 large ravioli.
- If cooking the ravioli right away, place them on the prepared baking sheets. If cooking the ravioli later in the day or at some point in the future, place them on the prepared baking sheets and pop them in the freezer until they’re firm, at least 1 hour. Transfer them to airtight containers and freeze for up to 1 month.
Make the sauce and serve the ravioli
- Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When it begins to foam, swirl the pan and cook, watching carefully, until it begins to brown. It may be necessary to remove the pan from the heat and tilt the pan to swirl the butter to prevent the butter from browning too quickly. Return the pan to low heat and stir in the walnuts and lemon juice. Remove the pan from the heat and spoon about 1/3 of the walnut butter into a large, shallow serving bowl or platter and place it in the oven. Cover the walnut butter remaining in the pan.
- Add half the ravioli to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to the serving bowl or platter. Spoon a little of the remaining walnut butter from the pan over the ravioli and sprinkle with a little parsley and cheese. Return the bowl to the oven. Repeat to cook the remaining ravioli and transfer to the bowl. Spoon the remaining walnut butter over them and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and cheese. Serve right away.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This ravioli recipe will take some time and effort but your reward will be a restaurant-quality dish that’s full of flavor. I made all of the components in one night for dinner, but the next time I will make the pasta dough and the filling the day before and hold them in the refrigerator. This will cut the time to make the dish before serving it to about an hour rather than the 2 hours it took me from start to finish. I used escarole as my bitter green in the filling. The basic egg pasta dough will give you a nice rich pasta that balances well with the bitter greens and cheeses in the ravioli filling. The walnut butter takes only a few minutes to make and the parsley and grated cheese were perfect toppings. When you make the pasta, it’s okay to use large eggs, but you will definitely be using the full 2 tablespoons of olive oil to get the dough to the right consistency. The pasta dough will look like curd-like crumbs in the food processor, but should come together when you pinch it. If it doesn’t come together, then more olive oil is needed. The dough was kneaded for about 2 minutes.
In my kitchen, fresh pasta equals love. When I really want to impress and serve something super special to those I love, homemade pasta is on the top of my list. It’s a bit time-consuming to make but well worth the effort! I like to serve pasta at least once a week, and try to cook at least one vegetarian dish each week, so this recipe checked both plans off of my list. This unique ravioli stuffed with bitter greens, ricotta, and creamy mozzarella was decadent indeed and so well worth the effort. I used a mixture of radicchio and escarole for my bitter greens combination–the mixture of pale green and red wilted greens was lovely and the flavor combo, too, with the fresh lemon juice and creamy cheeses was really tasty. (In fact, I would love to try this filling in an omelette or maybe a baked manicotti or stuffed shell dish as well.) In terms of the recipe itself, I think the filling could benefit from a bit of sliced garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. But the shallots alone do the job just fine. I loved the lovely yellow color the 3 eggs gave to the pasta and the texture of the tiny addition of semolina flour along with the AP flour was very nice. I was happy to see that the majority of the flour used for the ravioli dough was AP instead of semolina; I adore the pillowy texture the AP flour gives to ravioli dough! The basic sauce of butter, parsley, walnuts, lemon juice, and grated pecorino was marvelous. (I would bet that pecans would be just as delightful!) My only issue with the recipe, and it wasn’t the recipe’s fault but mine, was that I did not roll my dough thin enough. The recipe said to roll it to 2-mm thickness, but that is hard to measure honestly. On my KitchenAid attachment I went to #4 on the pasta roller, but I think going to 5 would have been beneficial. When I boiled the ravioli and they floated to the top, this is when I usually know they are cooked. This time because I think I didn’t roll the dough thin enough, the ravioli were a bit undercooked. Next time I will roll the dough thinner which will make this ravioli perfecto! Overall, we adored this recipe and felt as if we were dining in a rustic Italian trattoria. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe!
Originally published April 06, 2018