Dandelion Ravioli

After the snow melted, two inches of green sprouted from amidst the wood chips.  The first signs of daffodils appeared in Central Park.  A sure sign that warmer weather was on the way.  Sadly, the farmer’s market wasn’t yet at full capacity and continued to sell only kale.  But the grocery store offered a more intriguing option: dandelion greens.

When I used to wait tables at an Italian restaurant many years ago, the nonna would occasionally make dandelion raviolis.  Back then, it seemed weird to eat what I considered a weed.  Now I wish I had the foresight to watch and learn her secrets.  I figured a quick google search would easily locate a bunch of recipes, and I’d have nothing to post about.  Surprisingly, that was not the case.  So after a bit of researching and relying on my general knowledge, I came up with this version.

You can make the dough on your own or cheat a little and save a ton of time.  Since my trip to the Asian market for wing ingredients, I’ve been obsessed with the wonton wrappers I picked up on a whim.  Cheating was the obvious solution for me.  The thin sheets are fun to play with.  You can stuff them with almost anything … from cabbage to crab.  (I’ve been trying to perfect a crab rangoon recipe, but it’s not there just yet.)  These little wonders are also perfect for those of you with kids who like to help.

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Dandelion Raviolis
Makes a bunch.

Ingredients

1 bunch of dandelion greens, rinsed thoroughly
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of olive oil
Crushed red pepper, optional
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of whole-milk ricotta
1/8 cup of parmigiana-reggiano
1 egg, beaten
Wonton wrappers (or other ravioli sheets)

Directions 

Heat a large pot of salted water till boiling.  Add dandelion greens and blanch for 4 minutes.

IMG_0288Rinse with cold water.  (Some recipes suggested saving the cooking water, but despite my multiple rinsing, there was still sand in the pot, so I tossed it.)

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Squeeze out the excess water.  Chop the greens into small pieces.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil (use lemon oil if you can to counteract the bitterness of the greens) and saute the garlic for a minute or so.  Add the greens and sprinkle with some salt, pepper and red pepper, if desired, for about 2 minutes.

IMG_0291Remove to a large bowl and let cool.  (After a taste test, I had a hard time not eating all the greens at this stage.  They’re delicious this way if you don’t want to bother with the rest of the recipe.)  When cooled, add the ricotta, parm and egg.  Stir to mix thoroughly.

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Brush your pasta sheets with water (or a beaten egg) and top with a teaspoon or so of filling.  IMG_0293Then place another pasta sheet on top and press down around the edges to form the ravioli.  (Note: you can make as many as you want to eat and put the rest of the filling in the frig or freezer for later.)

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Heat a pot of salted water to boiling.  Cook the raviolis in the water for about 2-3 minutes or until they float.  Then drain and serve with a sauce of your choosing.

IMG_0296 I prefer a blush with some fresh tomatoes as in the picture that precedes the recipe.  But you could easily do a cream sauce (just above), marinara, pesto or brown butter sauce.  Even plain is delicious.  Or you can go a little crazy and lightly fry them in a little bit of butter for a couple minutes on each side.  (I recommend a par-boil first, but if the dough is fresh, you can forego this.)

Or you can take the wonton wrapper, put the filling in it and then pinch the sides together or leave open and bake them in an oven (toaster oven is fine) at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes for a lighter treat that is better for an appetizer than as a main dish.

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That’s the beauty of these wrappers.  You can have a ton of fun with them, and they’re delicious no matter what you do (as long as you don’t burn them).

To drink:

If serving as an appetizer, try a traditional Venetian spritz (campari, prosecco and a splash of soda with an orange peel or green olive).  The garlic packs a punch, so you want to account for that.  And just about any wine will be fine with this too.

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