These started their lives as egg yolk ravioli. I had leftover egg yolks from a baking experiment, and wanted a non-custard way to use them up. A few pokes of The Google turned up a Martha Stewart recipe for egg yolk ravioli, paired with two fillings: a ricotta-based one and a spinach one. I quite liked the idea of a ricotta-free spinach filling, and decided to try combining the filling and the egg yolk into one tidy package.
But then I ran into trouble. I wasn’t about to make my own pasta–I have neither the time, nor the counter space, nor the equipment to make homemade pasta dough without a lot of hassle. So I bought wonton wrappers. Perfectly cut, perfectly thin, and just a wee bit too small to hold both egg yolk and filling. I broke one yolk. And then another. And then another. Until I had no more yolks. Just a bowl of delicious-smelling spinach filling, flecked with translucent bits of shallot and garlic, and some lonely wonton wrappers. So I said screw it, and made spinach ravioli instead.
As it turns out, the round wonton wrappers from the supermarket produce aisle are too small for an egg yolk, but they’re the perfect size to make enormous ravioli with less-delicate fillings. Wonton ravioli are not quite the same as ravioli made from fresh dough; they’re floppier and more delicate, with a tendency to puff as they cook and then wrinkle and ruffle as they come out of the water. With a filling like this, subtle and loose and unweighted by ricotta, the lightness of the wonton wrappers was actually perfect. You can call it cheating, I suppose, but I prefer to think of these as a lightweight first cousin of fresh-dough ravioli. They’re terrific as a warm-weather first course or light lunch.
Because these are such delicate wrinkly things, they don’t need much to finish them for serving. I have a pretty little jar of black truffle salt–a gift from a generous friend–so I sprinkled a tiny bit over each portion and finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. You could use truffle oil instead, or skip the truffle altogether and just use olive oil. Or lemon oil. Or brown butter with sage. Or just about any sort of light and fragrant sauce-type substance. Really, the only requirement is plenty of fresh-grated Parmesan on top.
Giant Spinach Ravioli (serves 4 as an appetizer, or 2 as a main course)
Filling adapted from Martha Stewart
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
Salt to taste
6 oz (about 2 1/2 – 3 cups) fresh baby spinach, washed but not dried
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Pinch of ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
16 round wonton wrappers or gyoza wrappers
Extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil for drizzling (see blog post)
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and a pinch of salt and sweat for 2-3 minutes, or until the shallot is translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute, or until fragrant. Add spinach, vinegar, and another pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the spinach is tender and any liquid in the pan is gone. Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor, along with Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and black pepper. Pulse until finely chopped, then set aside to cool completely. (The filling can be made a day ahead, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated until needed.)
Place the wonton wrappers under a damp paper towel to keep them from drying out. Fill a small bowl with cold water. Working one at a time, lay a wrapper on a work surface and place 1 tbsp of the spinach filling in the center. Use your finger or a pastry brush to brush water all around the edge of the wrapper, then place another wrapper on top. Gently seal the raviolo, pressing out any air. Repeat the process with the remaining ravioli.
Fill a large deep-sided skillet with about 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Gently place the ravioli into the water, making sure they don’t touch (you may have to work in batches). Boil the ravioli for 3-5 minutes, or until the ravioli are tender; if they stick to the bottom of the pan, use a spoon or spatula to gently wiggle them loose. Remove the ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to serving plates. Sprinkle each portion with Parmesan, grind over a bit more black pepper, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil or truffle oil (if using). Serve immediately.