White Bean Ravioli

There’s something inherently pleasing about eating ravioli. Talk about the texture, that soft pop as you break through the skin of pasta and reach an explosive filling. Or the distinct, two-tone flavor. Just as you’re starting to enjoy the childhood simplicity of buttered noodles – oh, you heard me, I serve these with butter – SNAP! The whole thing tears open and an avalanche of filling bursts forth. To everyone who takes more than one bite to eat ravioli: you’re doing it wrong. And with a filling like this – creamy ricotta fortified by cannelloni, accented with Parmesan and subtle notes of nutmeg, the whole deal complemented on the opposite side of the pasta wall with butter and a warm, garlicky tomato sauce – there’s no better surprise and few things more enjoyably edible.

Prep Time: 45-60 minutes
Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

This recipe will feed 4-6

For the Pasta:

2 Eggs

200 grams (1 and 3/4 cup) Flour

1-2 teaspoons Olive Oil (as needed)

For the Sauce:

1 can pureed Tomatos

5-8 cloves Garlic

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 teaspoon White/Balsamic/Chili Vinegar

1-3 tablespoons dried Chili Flakes (to your preference)

For the Filling:

15 ounces Cannelloni Beans (or any white, skinless bean)

2 Egg Yolks

1/4 cup Ricotta

1/4 cup Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg

The Pasta:

Check out my Pasta Carbonara recipe for general pasta goodness. Follow that recipe for making your dough and rolling out, just stop before you cut any noodles, we’ll get to that part later. For ravioli/stuffed pasta you want to make sure you’re pasta is pliable and elastic, otherwise it can fall apart and lose filling while boiling, hence the olive oil – if your dough is coming together shaggy or dry, work some oil into it.

The Sauce:

This is my go to “I have 10 minutes to make something tasty” tomato sauce. And I may have put it up here on another recipe already, so I wont get finicky with details. When I have the time to cook down a mirepoix and then slow cook my tomatoes for a few hours, it’s always better that way; but in a rush, this works wonderfully. Just mix everything together and let it sit, if you can mix this a few days in advance and let it marinate for a few days in the fridge, the flavors will get even better. The less time you have to marinate, the thinner and finer the garlic needs to be. Before you boil your ravioli, warm a cup (or more, if you want a lot of sauce) of the sauce in a large pan with two tablespoons of butter on medium heat.

The Ravioli:

  1. Drain and rinse the beans, you can use dried beans if you like, just make sure they are completely cooked and soft.
  2. Combine beans, egg yolks (egg whites don’t incorporate into the filling as well), cheese, nutmeg, and then a healthy pinch of salt and pepper each, in a large bowl and blend. If you have a food processor or an electric beater, I like to use either of those for speed and ease. If you don’t have either, a whisk or a fork and some elbow grease will work just fine. Just whip everything together until the mix is smooth and fluffy – it wont fluff up like whipping meringues, but you’ll notice a slight change in color and texture the longer you beat everything together.
  3. Consider how you want your ravioli to be shaped. The pasta cutting methods I’m about to go over will give you four options: circle, square, half-moon, and triangle. Up to you, whatever shape you choose will taste equally wonderful (this isn’t like sandwiches, where triangles are fundamentally better), but squares and circles use two sheets of pasta pressed against each other whereas triangles and half-moons use one sheet folded in half, therefore are a little smaller and trickier to work with.
  4. Two ways to cut ravioli, one slightly faster than the other, one slightly neater. There are more methods and other types of stuffed pasta worth trying (people go nuts for tortellini, and that’s just ravioli with an extra fold), but these two methods are my go to. However you cut, know that the pasta will expand a fair amount when boiled. Keep shapes small, you don’t want to go past 1-2 inches in diameter.
    1. Method 1: using a ruler and knife (square/triangle) or biscuit cutter (circle/half-moon), generously flour your pasta, then pre-cut your sheets until there is no remaining dough and you have a stack of square or circles. You can try to remold, re-roll, and re-cut the scraps, but it’s not worth the effort required to bring the dough back together. I usually dry the scraps on a wire screen and save them for a rainy day. This method will require individual filling and folding of ravioli; it takes longer but will ultimately result in more uniform ravioli.
    2.  Method 2: lay your sheets in front of you, deposit filling (more on filling in a moment) 1/2-1 inches apart, then lay a second sheet over the top. Then, trim excess pasta away from around the ravioli and crimp. This method is obviously faster, but your ravioli will be different shapes and size, you end up with more pasta scraps, and can only do the two-sheet shapes.
  5. So, now to fill. This step is dependent on your preferences and practice. There’s a fine line you should try and approach: ravioli as full as possible that wont burst when boiled. When you first start filling, start small and work up to see how full you can make the ravioli. You can always scoop out filling if you over-stuff, but this process is exponentially easier if you keep things neat and clean. Whether you chose method 1 or 2, it’ll take roughly 1-2 teaspoons of filling per ravioli. Place the filling in the middle of the pasta (I usually use two spoons, scooping with one and then scraping with the other, if you have a melon baller with a built in release blade those work wonderfully). Press the pasta closed around the filling with your fingers, starting close to the filling and working out toward the edge of the pasta. You want to remove as much air as possible. Crimp the edges with a fork and set the shaped ravioli aside on a piece of paper or wire screen.
  6. Once you have filled and crimped all the ravioli it’s time to cook! Boil a pot of water and, working in batches so as to not crowd the pot or severely decrease the temperature of the water, cook the ravioli 2 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon and adding to the pan with sauce and butter. The ravioli will begin to float after 30 seconds, but cook for at least a minute and a half to ensure the filling is warm and the eggs are cooked. I will usually choose a sacrificial pasta pocket from the first batch and eat it before I start any others to see how the ravioli are cooking. You don’t want al dente pasta here. The side pan of sauce serves several purposes: it keeps the ravioli warm while you cook the rest, it stops them from sticking together, the butter helps the tomato sauce stick and coat the ravioli, and a little sauce on top fills out the flavor, making this a hearty meal. If you don’t want to eat the ravioli with tomato sauce, just warm a little butter and olive oil and use that instead.

Maybe this isn’t my favorite type of pasta. Maybe it’s not as luxurious or classy as pasta carbonara. Maybe it’s not as hearty as macaroni in a beefy ragu. Maybe I’m lying and this is my favorite and I could eat stuffed pasta every night of the week. Whatever the truth may be, I know this: just writing about and picturing cutting, filling, shaping, and eating this ravioli brought a goofy smile to my face. It’s not just that it’s delicious – and go find out for yourself, because it is delicious – they’re a ton of fun to make. Ricotta was made for pasta like this; the nutmeg is subtle, but warm and homey; the salt, tang, and garlicky funk of the sauce is a cherry on top of the mix; and the beans are perfect as a filling. They’re creamy, have a nuttiness that plays well off the cheeses, and a soft, earthy flavor that provides an excellent base upon which the other flavors layer perfectly. And, you know what they say. Beans, they’re good for your heart; the more you eat, the more you…never mind. Salt and pepper over the top, and enjoy!

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