Friday, February 12, 2010

basil-tofu ricotta stuffed spinach ravioli with shiitake-portabella marinara sauce

this is at once the fanciest, most complex, and possibly the tastiest recipe i’ve ever come up with. it’s a collaboration with bethany--even though she wasn’t here to help cook we dreamt it up together. don’t even attempt this unless you have 2-3 hours to spend cooking and aren’t worried about suffering the worst garlic breath you’ve ever experienced. (it’s worth it).

also, it is a heavy, heavy dish, so i recommend serving it with a fresh salad; maybe sprouts and greens with a light lemon-herb vinaigrette.

the recipe is a fourfold path to scrumptiousness: spinach pasta dough, tofu ricotta, marinara sauce and finally putting it all together. part one: pasta.

spinach and herb eggless pasta

this recipe provided enough dough to make about 30 ravioli, plus some fettuccine and lasagna noodles. after it dries it’s slightly more brittle than regular pasta, much to the delight of my dog who jumped at the chance to clean up a few shattered fettuccine strands.


1 2/3 cup semolina flour
2/3 cup whole-grain soy flour
2/3 cup regular old wheat flour
about 3 cups fresh spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

notice there’s no water in this recipe--i used water from cooking the spinach and it more than made up for the lack of liquid. in fact i had to add about a cup more flour than i planned just to soak up the excess moisture.

first, steam the spinach, basil and parsley. let it cool, then put it in a blender or food processor, along with about 1/4 cup of the spinach juice. (i’m totally estimating quantities). purée the mixture to create a pleasant gooey green slime. at this point i bothered to measure and found i had exactly one cup, so if you have more than that, just use one cup, and if you have less, add a little water to reach one cup.

mix the flours and salts together thoroughly, then add the slime and olive oil. mix, aiming for a very stiff dough. add more wet or dry ingredients if needed. knead for about ten minutes, then let it rest in plastic wrap for twenty.

take a hunk of dough about the size of your fist and roll it out. send it through the pasta machine on the thickest setting, folding in half and re-pressing a few times to get a good rectangle, then adjust the machine to its antepenultimate thinness setting and feed the dough through once more. now it’s ready to stuff with...

isa chandra moskowitz’s basil-tofu ricotta (from her cookbook, vegan with a vengeance)

this is such a successful vegan version of ricotta, it tastes almost identical to the cheese. that is a damn rare quality for a vegan cheese recipe.

i’m not going to type it out because this person already did. the only changes i made were to use fresh-squeezed lemon juice, a little extra garlic, and dried basil because sadly i don’t have fresh.

shit-talkin’ portabella marinara

this sauce is out of control. i love it so much. i love myself for creating it. i ate a bowl of it as soup. the garlic is deadly. the shiitake (shit-talkin’) mushrooms are essential--portabella can be substituted with any old fungus, but don’t skip the shiitake.


28-ounce can crushed organic tomatoes with basil
12-15 shiitake, reconstituted if dry, sliced
6 inferior, medium-sized mushrooms, sliced
1/2 can black olives, chopped
2 handfuls spinach, chopped or ripped
1/2 large onion, diced
6 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup veggie broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons italian seasoning

in a very large pan, heat up the olive oil and add garlic. cook about a minute, then add the onion and portabellas. cook a couple more minutes, then add the shiitake and cook until the onions are translucent.

add the olives, spinach, italian seasoning and broth, and stir. cook (covered) a minute or two. add the crushed tomatoes, cover, turn down the heat, and let it cook at least 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

wrapping things up

now it’s time to stuff the dirtypillows. i do them slowly, two at a time so i know i’m devoting my full attention to each morsel. cut a full sheet of rolled-out pasta dough into rectangles, approximately 2.5x5”. then spoon out two dollops of ricotta, so you have something that looks like this:

fold over the dough and press around the edges and in between the dollops. push down hard to seal it; i found i was able to just pinch my dough shut, but you might have to wet its lips with a slip of water if it won’t stick to itself. use fork tines to impress the edges if you want, then trim around so it looks nice.

obviously this is just one way to shape ravioli. having never made ravioli before, and without reading any instructions beforehand, i liked the idea of folding them over because there’s less of a chance they’ll fall apart this way. you can do any creative shape, though. here are a few different designs i experimented with once i had more confidence:

once they're shaped you might want to refrigerate the ravioli, uncovered, for about two hours prior to cooking, so they can dry and firm up a little. (optional).

boil a pot of water with salt and olive oil, and drop in the ravioli to cook until al dente, about 3-4 minutes. mine sank to the bottom initially then floated when they were done, but i don’t know if that’s coincidence or if buoyancy is a reliable indicator.

plate the ravioli with marinara, and possibly a dusting of vegan parmesan, and enjoy!

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