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Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce: An Italian Classic

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Ravioli with sage butter sauce is a quintessential Italian dish that combines delicate pasta filled with a variety of delicious ingredients, all enveloped in a rich, aromatic butter sauce infused with fresh sage. This dish is a testament to the beauty of simplicity in Italian cuisine, where quality ingredients are allowed to shine. In this article, we will delve into the origins of ravioli, explore the essential ingredients, and provide a detailed recipe for creating this elegant and comforting dish at home.

The History of Ravioli

Ravioli, a type of filled pasta, has its roots in Italy, with the earliest records dating back to the 14th century. The word “ravioli” is derived from the Italian word “riavvolgere,” meaning “to wrap.” Traditionally, ravioli were made by wrapping leftover meat, cheese, and vegetables in thin pasta dough, creating a convenient and delicious way to use up ingredients. Over time, ravioli have evolved to include a wide variety of fillings and sauces, becoming a beloved staple in Italian cuisine.

Ingredients:

For the Ravioli Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup cooked spinach, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • A pinch of nutmeg (optional)

For the Sage Butter Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 10-12 fresh sage leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Ravioli Dough:
    • On a clean work surface, form the flour into a mound and create a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well, add the olive oil and salt.
    • Using a fork, gently whisk the eggs, gradually incorporating the flour from the edges of the well until a dough begins to form.
    • Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of water.
    • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the Filling:
    • In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan, finely chopped spinach (if using), egg yolk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg (if using). Mix until well combined.
    • Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside.
  3. Roll Out the Dough and Fill the Ravioli:
    • Divide the rested dough into four portions. Using a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll out each portion into thin sheets, about 1/16-inch thick.
    • Place small spoonfuls of the filling mixture onto one sheet of pasta, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
    • Lightly brush around the filling with water to help seal the ravioli. Place another sheet of pasta on top, pressing gently around each mound of filling to remove any air pockets.
    • Using a ravioli cutter or a sharp knife, cut out individual ravioli squares. Press the edges with a fork to ensure they are well sealed.
    • Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  4. Cook the Ravioli:
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Carefully drop the ravioli into the water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they float to the surface and are tender.
    • Use a slotted spoon to remove the ravioli from the water and transfer them to a plate.
  5. Prepare the Sage Butter Sauce:
    • In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the fresh sage leaves and cook until the butter turns golden brown and the sage becomes crispy, about 3-4 minutes.
    • Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  6. Serve the Ravioli:
    • Add the cooked ravioli to the skillet with the sage butter sauce, gently tossing to coat the pasta evenly.
    • Transfer the ravioli to serving plates, spooning any remaining sauce over the top.
    • Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Tips for Perfect Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce:

  • Fresh Ingredients: Use the freshest ingredients you can find, especially for the filling and the sage. Fresh ricotta, Parmesan, and sage leaves will significantly enhance the flavor of the dish.
  • Pasta Dough: Ensure your pasta dough is well-kneaded and rested. This makes it easier to roll out and results in a tender, silky texture.
  • Sealing the Ravioli: Make sure to press out any air pockets around the filling before sealing the ravioli. This helps prevent them from bursting while cooking.
  • Brown Butter: Watch the butter carefully as it browns to avoid burning. The nutty, rich flavor of browned butter is key to this sauce, and crispy sage leaves add a delightful crunch.

Why Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce?

Ravioli with sage butter sauce is a dish that epitomizes the elegance of Italian cuisine. The combination of delicate pasta filled with creamy ricotta and the rich, nutty flavor of the sage-infused butter creates a harmonious blend of textures and tastes. This dish is perfect for a special dinner or a cozy night in, providing a sense of indulgence without requiring overly complex ingredients or techniques.

Variations:

While the classic ricotta and spinach filling is delightful, there are many variations you can try to customize your ravioli:

  1. Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Filling: Mix cooked and pureed pumpkin or butternut squash with ricotta and Parmesan for a sweet and savory twist.
  2. Mushroom Filling: Sauté finely chopped mushrooms with garlic and mix with ricotta for an earthy, umami-rich filling.
  3. Cheese Filling: Combine ricotta with other cheeses like goat cheese, mozzarella, or fontina for a rich, cheesy filling.
  4. Meat Filling: Use ground meat like beef, pork, or sausage, cooked and mixed with herbs and Parmesan, for a hearty option.

Conclusion

Ravioli with sage butter sauce is a timeless dish that brings the warmth and comfort of Italian cuisine to your table. With its simple yet luxurious ingredients, this dish is a true testament to the power of culinary tradition and the joy of homemade pasta. By following this recipe and embracing the art of making ravioli from scratch, you can create a meal that’s both impressive and deeply satisfying. So, gather your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and enjoy the process of crafting this classic Italian delight. Buon appetito!

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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