Stuffed dumplings are a part of the culinary tradition for all global cuisines. The Chinese elevated the art in Cantonese Dim Sum and the Shanghainese with the incredible Xiaolongbao or soup dumpling (often referred to in San Francisco as XLB).
Dumplings are fried or steamed. Examples outside of China include Eastern European Pierogi and Latin American Empanadas. But, it is the Italians who through Marco Polo’s learnings elevated the Chinese dumpling with cheese and tomatoes from the new world. The most familiar Italian examples, and with good reason, are Ravioli and Tortellini including variations of these shapes.
But, I am getting off track. This post is about an easy – well relatively easy – version of Roman style ravioli that can be pulled together on a weeknight. Before we get to the easy part, what makes this ravioli Roman style? First, and most importantly, the ravioli is filled with a cheese mixture typical of Roman cuisine consisting of ricotta, pecorino, spinach, egg, black pepper and nutmeg. Second, is the use of a light pomodoro sauce ladled over the ravioli and topped with pecorino.
Okay, on to the easy part. I enjoy ravioli and have been known to make time-consuming versions from time to time. Take for example a recipe for a springtime Asparagus Ravioli with Parmesan Broth that was documented earlier in this blog.
But, sometimes I crave a little tomato sauce over cheese filled ravioli and this version satisfies that itch in the One Old Stove style. It is a small batch meal prepared in fairly short order suitable for a weeknight supper.
What makes it easy? The biggest time and hassle saver is this use of Chinese wonton wrappers instead of making homemade pasta. I can knock out the fresh pasta in about 30 minutes but to this must be added the time to clean up the pasta machine and the countertops. Using the wonton wrappers rather than making pasta saves at least 45 minutes or more realistically 1 hour of prep time making fresh ravioli accessible on a weeknight.
Now, I suppose packaged, frozen ravioli could shorten prep time even more. But, in my admittedly limited experience, frozen or prepared ravioli and tortellini are poor substitutes for fresh.
The second time saver is using packaged tomatoes for the light pomodoro sauce. I like Pomi brand finely chopped tomatoes packaged in a box though any good canned or boxed product will do. The simple sauce is made by adding a couple of tablespoons of olive oil with a teaspoon, or so of salt and heating the mixture gently while the ravioli is being prepared. I use the same sauce for Neapolitan pizza.
The recipe is for two servings but of course it can be scaled up. The photos were taken in a bit of a rush and for that I apologize. It was a weeknight and when the cooking was done, I was ready to eat and relax.
At first, I didn’t plan on documenting this dish, but I think some readers will enjoy the dish on a weeknight when only Ravioli alla Romana will do.
For the Pomodoro Sauce
- 28 ounces of canned packaged tomatoes finely chopped
- 2 generous tablespoons of every day extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
For the Ravioli
- 4 to 6 cups of fresh spinach
- 1 tablespoon of every day olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 cup of grated pecorino cheese plus extra for sprinkling over the dish
- 1 whole egg
- Generous grind of fresh black pepper
- Grated whole nutmeg (4 or 5 passes over a microplane)
- I package Chinese wonton wrappers (about 3 inches square)
- All purpose flour for use on the bench
For the Pomodoro Sauce
- Empty the packaged tomatoes into a large saucepan and place over a burner on medium low heat.
- Add olive oil and salt.
- Adjust the heat so the tomato sauce is simmering and let cook while the ravioli is prepared.
For the Ravioli
- Place spinach in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of water, a sprinkling of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring heat to medium high and cover.
- Cook spinach until it is wilted before removing and drying with paper towels. When cooled, coarsely chop the spinach
- Add ricotta, pecorino, egg, black pepper, nutmeg and a pinch of salt to a medium size bowl. Add chopped spinach to the mixture and stir to combine all of the ingredients
- Set up a work area with a clean surface, a small bowl of water and a bowl of AP flour (about 1 cup).
- On this work area, layout up to four wonton wrappers. Place a generous tablespoon of the filling on each wrapper, dip your fingers in the water and one at a time, go around the edges of each wrapper wetting about 1/2 inch of the perimeter.
- On top of each wrapper, place another wrapper one at a time using your fingers to smooth out any air and to press the edges sealing the ravioli. Optionally, trim the edges with a knife or a decorative pasta roller. Dust the ravioli with AP flour before setting aside and moving to the next wrapper. Make 4 to 5 ravioli per serving.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil. After the ravioli has set for about 10 minutes, cook in batches in the boiling water until the ravioli rise to just below the surface – about two minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain before placing in an individual serving dish
- Place 4 ravioli in the individual dish. To serve, top with a generous ladle of pomodoro sauce and grated pecorino.