Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sundried Tomato Pesto with Pan Fried Ravioli

Fried Pasta with Pesto and Roasted Asparagus. 
Fancy dinners get me so excited. Since I've started down this road of food enlightenment, my favorite thing to do for a special occasion is to cook something delicious that hopefully will fill that person(or persons) with a since of warmth and excitement. We all have are individual ways of showing our love, and for me cooking a good meal is about as loving as you can get (feel free to insert your own dirty reference here).

Healthy (and super wonderful) boyfriend had a birthday this weekend and I wanted to make something decadent, but didn't have a lot of time to plan or execute the meal. So of course I looked at my Simple Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook (aka my new book boyfriend) and found this simple and tasty dish that only took about an hour total. We were both feeling under the weather, so I did not want to spend all day in the kitchen when I knew we both did not have our normal appetites. In fact, healthy boyfriend ended up loving the meal, but being able to eat a bunch because of his sick tummy. That's what leftovers are for :)

I loved the taste, though I would like to tinker with it a bit next time. It was good, but I thought it lacked something I still can't put my finger on. Certainly use the pesto sparingly as a teaspoon goes a LONG way. The raviolis were silly yummy, and something Ill keep in my pocket for a quick appetizer. No shock that frying pasta makes it taste better, you can fry a sock and make it taste good(This is in no way an endorsement to eat socks). Oil and breadcrumbs, hard to go wrong with. I may try to add the pine nuts first next time, or even use another kind of herb. Panko breadcrumbs are the way to go, or use fresh made if you can. Normal store bough breadcrumbs work alright, but are so filled with chemicals and junk I avoid them.

Because I used loose sun dried tomatoes, they needed to steam first to soften them. If you use sun dried tomatoes in oil, just drain them and blend, no need to steam. Any reason to use my steamer makes me happy.

Finding quality ravioli without breaking the bank can be tricky. All the national brands I've tried are terrible, but who wants to spend $7-10 on a package of ravioli? Queens and movie stars, that's who, but I don't think either read my blog.
Mushroom and Spinach ravioli would both work great with this recipe, as would traditional cheese. Mine were from a whole foods, the 365 mushroom ravioli, which were fine, but nothing to write home about. Time did not permit me to go to the farmers market to get some local made ravioli, but in the future that is what I would prefer. Look around your neighborhoods and try to find a local homemade pasta, it makes a big difference in the taste.

Such a flexible dish, try it and see how easy it is!

Sun dried Tomato Pesto with Pan Fried Ravioli

The Goods: Serves 4-6 as appetizer, 2-3 as main course
The Pesto: 
1 1/2 ounces(about 10) loose sun dried tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

The Ravioli:
1/3 cupish milk 

5 tablespoonish dry (panko) bread crumbs

20 delicious ravioli, defrosted if frozen (pick some good ones!)

Oil for frying, olive or grape work great

The Deal: 
1. To make the pesto, steam* the tomatoes until soft, around 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

2. Place tomatoes, oil, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add pine nuts, parsley, salt, and pepper and pulse until the mixture is almost smooth but has tiny pieces of these last ingredients. Scrape into a small bowl and then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper if needed.
Maters, garlic, lemon juice and oil
Puree #1
Adding the rest of the ingredients
3. Ravioli time! Put the milk in a small bowl and the breadcrumbs on a small plate on the counter. Dip each ravioli in the milk, then coat both sides with breadcrumbs, just don't cover them completely. Place on a platter.
Dipping in milk
Lightly breading, no need to coat completely
Ready to FRY!
4. Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a little oil. Heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  Fry the ravioli in one layer (you may have to do this in two batches) until golden brown on both sides. Use tongs to flip them over as needed. Place on a paper towel covered plate to drain off oil.
Serve on a platter with about a teaspoon of tomato pesto on top of each of them. Garnish with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.

*Fairly certain everyone knows how to steam, but just in case. To steam tomatoes, place about an inch of water in a medium pot with a vegetable steamer, cover and heat on high until boiling. Once boiling, place tomatoes in the steamer, place lid on top and steam until soft, around 10 minutes.

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