Italians love their bitter greens, whether served raw in salad, cooked in soup, or made the star of a savory filling for oversized ravioli. Use a mix of escarole, chicory and dandelion greens, or try radicchio for an unusual but delicious riff. If you don’t want to make the pasta from scratch, pick up some sheets at your local Italian deli.
Ravioli with Bitter Greens and Toasted Walnut Butter
For the egg pasta:
- 2 cups (10 oz./315 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbs. semolina flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 to 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
For the filling:
- 1 lb. (500 g) bitter greens, such as escarole, chicory, dandelion greens, and radicchio
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, diced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbs. fresh
- lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) well-drained cow’s milk ricotta
- 1/4 lb. (125 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small dice
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) salted butter
- 3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g) coarsely chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1. To make the pasta, in a food processor, combine the flours, salt and nutmeg and pulse briefly to mix. Add the eggs and process briefly. drizzle in 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and process until the mixture forms curdlike crumbs. When you pinch the dough it should form a soft ball. If it too wet or sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, and process briefly. If it is too dry, drizzle in the remaining 1 Tbs. oil.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and firm but pliable. This will take several minutes. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Remove any cores and thick stems from the greens, then cut the leaves crosswise into thin shreds. Set aside. In a large fry pan 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 as many greens as you can by the handful and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt. Cover and cook until they start to wilt, about 2 minutes. Uncover, stir and add more greens. Repeat until you have added them all. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, uncovered, until the greens are quite wilted and soft, about 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and season lightly with pepper. Let cool briefly, then drain well, pressing out the liquid. Transfer to a cutting board and chop finely. In a bowl, combine the greens and cheeses and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Dust a work surface and 2 rimmed baking sheets with semolina. Using a pasta machine, roll out the dough to 1/16-inch (2-mm) thickness. You should have 4 long sheets. (If the sheets get too long and unwieldy, cut them in half crosswise and roll out the halves separately.) Lay a dough sheet on the floured surface with the longest edge facing you. Cover the other sheets with a kitchen towel. Spoon a scant 1 Tbs. filling along the center of the dough sheet at 3- to 3 1/2-inch (7.5- to 9-cm) intervals and flatten the mounds slightly. Dip your finger in water and lightly moisten the edges of the dough and the area between the mounds. Lay a second dough sheet on top. Gently press down between the mounds to seal and remove any air bubbles. Using a pastry cutter, cut out large ravioli, each about a 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) square. Alternately, use a large square or round cookie cutter or a ravioli cutter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, making sure the ravioli are not touching. Repeat with the remaining dough sheets and filling. You should have 24 to 28 large ravioli. If cooking the ravioli right away, leave them on the prepared sheets. If cooking later in the day, place the baking sheets in the freezer and freeze until ready to cook. If not cooking them the same day, freeze until the ravioli are firm, at least 1 hour. Then transfer to airtight containers and freeze for up to 1 month.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Preheat an oven to 200°F (95°C).
6. 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. Remove from the heat and swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the butter from browning too quickly. Return the pan to low heat and stir in the walnuts and lemon juice. Remove from the heat and cover. Spoon about one-third of the walnut butter into a large, shallow serving bowl or platter and place in the oven.
7. Add half of the ravioli to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer them to the serving bowl. Spoon a little of the remaining walnut butter from the pan over them 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 immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic dishes made modern, Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti.