Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spinach Ravioli with Garlic Herb Olive Oil

Tuesday is my long day. I start work at 8 and finish at 5:30.  I know, that's a normal 8 hour job. I know that 8 hours should not be a big deal. I used to regularly have a couple of jobs at a time, but now I am a working wussy. China has 2 hour lunch breaks, early closing times, week and month long national vacations.... it's kinda of awesome.

But seriously, teaching can be a tiring job!

Often times, I love it. I'm especially enjoying teaching art this year and having that creativity back in my life. Sometimes, though, trying to get teenagers to understand the basics of oil painting 5 times in one day is enough to make you want to eat the fake still life fruit, just so it can end! Enough is enough! To top it off, Tuesdays, I have a meeting at 4 o'clock that could last anywhere between 1 and 2 hours. The meetings are often fruitless and circular and by the time I get out of there I need to go do something I want to do.

Last Tuesday, I wanted flowers, so I bought some.  I wanted to eat spinach for dinner, so I bought some. I wanted rose tea when I got home, so I had some. When I got home, I rummaged in my fridge to figure out what to make. You see, for some reason, it's rare for me to actually have a totally thought out plan for dinner. This often results in my boyfriend worriedly asking me if we're ever going to eat dinner, or what exactly it is that I'm making. So last Tuesday, I had spinach and then I saw mushrooms and  jiaozi wrappers and immediately thought, ravioli. I made mushroom ravioli with thyme and breadcrumbs, and I made spinach ravioli and egg. I was a little worried that the egg would be weird or the the combo too boring. It was anything but.

These ravioli are delicious.  They are garlicky, earthy and truly rich tasting despite having zero cheese or dairy  whatsoever. I think they'd be great with Pasta Pomodoro, but I just ate them with a drizzle of some herb garlic olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Spinach Ravioli with Herb Garlic Olive Oil

For the Ravioli:
A pack of potsticker wrappers, the thickest you can find, or fresh sheets of pasta dough (I used about 40)
A ton of spinach
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a medium red onion, finely diced
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten

For the Oil:
1/2 cup olive oil, fruity is okay
a large pinch of rosemary
a large pinch of oregano (or italian herb mix)
a medium pinch of red pepper flakes
a medium pinch of kosher salt
a tiny pinch of cinnamon
3 black peppercorns
1 clove of garlic, minced

1. Grab all your ingredients. Trim off some of the spinach stems and rinse thoroughly. Chop finely. (Finer than I did, please!)

2. Prepare the Herb Oil: In a mortar and pestle, add all of the dry ingredients (meaning, not the olive oil or the garlic). Crush until very fine. Mince the garlic. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl to allow the flavors to meld.

3. Prepare the Filling: Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a pan and heat over medium. Add onions and cook for 1-2 minutes to soften. Add garlic. Be careful to adjust according to your particular stove's heating, you don't want to burn the garlic! Season with salt and fresh ground pepper, maybe even a little nutmeg if you want to be interesting.

4. Set the spinach aside to cool just a bit, about 8 minutes. In a bowl, beat the egg. Add a small amount of the spinach mixture and stir to make sure the egg won't curdle when you add it all. Then, gradually add more and more of the spinach to the egg until all combined.

5. Fill the Ravioli: Set yourself with a little ravioli assembly line. You'll need your wrappers, a spoon, a fork, a little bowl of water and a little bowl of flour. Here are the steps:

Form a small bowl shape with the wrapper in your fingers. Brush just a tiny bit of water on the edge of the wrapper.

With a spoon add just a small amount, about a teaspoon, of the filling to the middle of the wrapper.

Fold the wrapper in half and squeeze at the top middle. Make sure the two sides actually meld, the water should help. Then, move along the edge squeezing until the entire edge has been sealed shut.

Lay the ravioli onto a dry place on a cutting board or plate. Dip the fork tines into the small bowl of flour, then gently press the tines into the sealed edge of the ravioli to give it that happy little ruffled edge. This is optional, but I think makes it look so nice.

Repeat until you either run out of filling or wrappers.***

6. Cook the Ravioli: Fill a large pot with water and salt it. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, you may add up to about 10 ravioli to your pot. The ravioli are cooked when they float to the top of the water and stay there.

7.Scoop cooked ravioli out with a slotted spoon as they finish. Split into bowls or onto plates. Drizzle the garlic herb oil  on top. Sprinkle some Parmesan if desired (you do) and eat! Excellent with a side salad and some white wine, or by themselves for a light lunch. You could even serve these ON TOP of salad and use the herb oil and a little red wine vinegar as the dressing. Enjoy!

*** These ravioli freeze really well. Dust a baking sheet with some flour and arrange the ravioli on it as you fill them. Make sure they aren't touching! Put the ravioli on the sheet into the freezer overnight. The next day, pop the ravioli off the sheet and into freezer bags, and enjoy in the next few weeks!

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