About 2 weeks ago, I was in New York City for the Edible Institute—a meeting of fellow editors and publishers of Edible magazines across the country, followed by a public conference of food advocates, chefs and producers. (Including Mark Bittman, about whose presentation I wrote here.)
One of my Edible Ohio Valley magazine colleagues and I stopped into Mario Batali’s Eataly food emporium, just for grins. It wasn’t the complete and total madhouse I’d expected, so we put our names on a waiting list for dinner at the pasta counter and browsed around.
Sure, it’s kind of a tourist trap. And yes, it’s pricey (though our dinner was no budget-buster). It might be easy to rail on Mario because of his celebrichef status. But damn, the place was amazing, and the food even better than you’d expect, given the sheer quantity the kitchens must turn out. Jennifer and I enjoyed a lovely salad of arugula and fennel (my new favorite combo), and a plate of springtime ravioli with the most luscious butter sauce.
The ravioli was, at its essence, such a simple dish that I figured I could re-create it at home. And I did. Mario’s butter sauce was better than mine, but it’s really hard to go wrong with just a drizzle of melted butter on any kind of pasta. I used wonton wrappers to contain a simple filling, cooked them quickly, garnished them with sweet and tender pea shoots from Kentucky Roots Urban Farm, and fixed a fancy dinner with minimal fuss. Plus, making your own ravioli is a whole lot of fun. (And my freezer is now well-stocked with homemade pea ravioli.)
spring pea ravioli with asparagus butter recipe
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and finely ground pepper
1 pkg wonton wrappers
1 egg white, beaten
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 fat asparagus spears
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Pea shoots or microgreens, for serving
Cook the peas in a saucepan of well-salted boiling water, 5–6 minutes. Drain and return the peas to the pan. Add the ricotta and mint; use an immersion blender to puree the mixture (or put everything in a food processor). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. Place one wonton wrapper on a cutting board; use your fingertip or a pastry brush to apply a stripe of egg white to all 4 sides of the wrapper (be careful to get the corners well-covered). Place a teaspoon of the pea-ricotta filling in the center of the wrapper; fold the wrapper in half diagonally to form a triangle. Press and seal the edges completely, then use your fingers to gently "burp" out any air trapped in the ravioli. Repeat with remaining filling.
Trim the asparagus and slice it very thinly on the diagonal. In a small skillet, warm the butter over medium heat; add the asparagus and cook, stirring, until the asparagus is bright green, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of well-salted water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the ravioli (about 1/4 batch at a time, if you're cooking all of them) and cook at a simmer, for 3 minutes. Transfer the ravioli with a slotted spoon to serving plates; spoon some of the asparagus over each serving and drizzle with butter. Top the ravioli with shaved Parmesan cheese and a few pea shoots for garnish.