Sometimes one of the most unexpected meals becomes a favorite memory.
I still remember the first time I had ravioli with a walnut filling. It was in Manhattan, many years ago (I think it was in 2005?) and I was SHOCKED at the simplicity and richness of the meatless dish I ordered.
Dressed with a brown butter sauce with roasted pumpkin … I still to this day can go back to that meal and remember just how much I was wowed; remember how meals like THAT were what made me fall in love with cooking. How meals like that fueled the desire to learn how to elevate my skills in the kitchen for myself, my family and friends (who I love to feed… LOL.)
This is such a simple filling, friends.
If you don’t eat meat, this is a GREAT filling as you can adjust the sauce or dressing or accompanying proteins and veggies to really make a wide range of dishes. With bright lemon sauce, summer squash would shine with this. These can be savory or sweet (yes, I said it) stuffed into any sort of filled pasta. I wouldnt use this with large shells, but manicotti? Yes. A sweet sauce over manicotti stuffed with this as a quirky dessert? Yes, that would be DELICIOUS.
One of my favorites with this filling (other than my version of the original that wowed me so long ago) is this filling inside ravioli, laid over fresh arugula and dressed with a brown butter sauce, topped with a squeeze of lemon and some parmesan. MMMMMMM. I mean, there are lots of options for this versatile filling, friends!
Here it is:
INGREDIENTS (makes enough filling for 3 dozen ravioli. I made 2 dozen ravs and 24 agnolotti)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, quickly toasted
2/3 cup whole milk (or skim) ricotta
1 tbsp lemon zest (I used zest from 1 large lemon)
1 tsp chopped parsley (rosemary or sage would also work well, I added one chopped fresh sage leaf)
pinch of salt
- Place all ingredients into a small food processor and pulse until it forms a thick paste. (A bowl and immersion blender works well too)
- Adjust lemon, salt and pepper as desired
- Use to fill pasta immediately (or store in airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days)
- You can use a small spoon to fill, but the easiest method is to use a small piping bag or quart sized baggie with the corner snipped off. The piping method gives you the most control over amount of filling (which depending on the type of pasta you are creating, is VERY important! Overfilling can cause your pasta not to seal correctly and come apart when it is put in boiling water!)
Again, these fillings are super simple and can be made in advance. As someone who loves to have versatility within each recipe I make, this fills the slot of Meatless Monday and allows for a ton of variety just the range of what can complement it. It works with many different veggies and protein sources as well, I find it much more versatile than say, my three mushroom pasta filling.
It also will challenge you to think outside the box with your sauce choices or how you choose to finish it.
(Honestly, I might even try frying these and having a dark chocolate dipping sauce with a little chili pepper in it!)