Sweet Potato Sweet Ravioli
I'm not sure where my love affair with sweet potatoes started. I like to think it was Thanksgiving last year, when my mom served us light, pulpy, syrupy potatoes, drenched in butter. Or maybe the first time I tried sweet potato fries and was blown away by how smooth and delicious they were. Or maybe even the time(s) I tried to make my own sweet potato fries and was shot down, which only added to the mystique of the humble yam.
In any case, I love a good sweet potato, whether fried, stewed, mashed, or eaten raw (ok, not raw. Even I have limits). So I was delighted when, months ago, I discovered a recipe (from Cooking Light) that combined my deep passion for pasta with my blossoming affinity for sweet potatoes. Like most recipes, it resided in the limbo of my Gmail account for a few solid weeks until, last night, I gave it a try. Hello, loveliness.
First, a word about homemade ravioli: it is so, so good and so, so easy. My mom somewhere found a recipe for homemade ravioli and made the mistake of making it for me one night. I was hooked. In a bad way. For at least two solid years whenever my mom asked me what I wanted to eat the answer was, again and again, "Homemade ravioli." And while it is very easy to make, it's not exactly conducive to family dinners, since you can really only make 3-4 raviolis at a time. My mom made them for me on special occassions, or when my dad and brother were out and she could sit me at the little island in our kitchen, dropping fresh ravioli straight from the pot onto my plate. I loved it.
The recipe, as I said, is simple: take wonton wrappers (found, usually, in the produce section of a grocery store); drop a mixture of egg, ricotta, Parmesan, basil, and oregano; brush edges with egg white; fold; cook in boiling water for two minutes. And that's it! There is a little bit of a learning curve--you should double up the wrappers the first few times, as it takes some practice to pull the raviolis out without breaking them--but mostly they are quick and easy, taking all of 10 minutes to make and 10 seconds to eat.
If you want something a bit more substantive, complex, and awe-inspiring, making your own pasta dough adds a lovely flavor. These can be tricky, as you have to be careful to evenly distribute the dough around the filling so that it's neither stretched too thin over the filling nor bunched too thick around the edges, but the pasta itself is just so delicious--fresh and filling. The wonton wrappers work great, too, and add a uniformity that's difficult to replicate if you don't make pasta dough often, but I always recommend trying it at least once.
The sweet potato raviolis were essentially the same as my mom's homemade versions, with some mashed potatoes and spices replacing the ricotta mix. The recipe also came with instructions for a lemon-sage-butter sauce, which was delicious if a little thin (I think I would try reducing it a little more, or maybe adding some olive oil for stability). All in all, though, it was a crowd-pleaser (1 is a crowd, right?) and a fine addition to my sweet potato/pasta repertoire.
The recipe calls for baking the potatoes for 40-50 minutes, something I would maybe have the time or patience for during the weekend, but not so much on a weeknight when I started cooking dinner less than half an hour before my regular bedtime. To bypass this, I microwaved the potatoes, wrapped in plastic, for 6 minutes, one at a time (to do multiple potatoes, microwave for 5 minutes per potato). Maybe not the best method if you were making something with a persnicketty recipe, but worked perfectly fine for me.
SWEET POTATO RAVIOLI
2 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
24 wonton wrappers
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Wash and thoroughly dry potatoes.
Wrap in plastic and microwave, one at a time, for about 6 minutes.
Let cool, then peel potatoes and mash.
Mix together mashed potatoes, cheese, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Working with a couple wrappers at a time, scoop about 1 tablespoon potato mixture into center of each.
Lightly brush edges of dough with egg white - bring 2 opposite corners to center.
Press edges together to seal, forming a triangle.
Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers, potato filling and egg white.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil - add a third of the ravioli and cook until done, about 2 minutes.
Carefully remove ravioli and keep warm - repeat procedure with remaining ravioli.
In a small skillet, add butter and melt over medium-high.
Add chopped sage to pan - cook until butter is lightly browned, about 1 to 3 minutes.
Stir in juice, salt and pepper.
Drizzle butter mixture over ravioli.
Garnish with sage sprigs, if desired.