On my quest for simple dinners, I came across a well-loved recipe from my sister that is similar to the one I am sharing now but instead uses butter and heavy cream. Since I’ve been cooking healthier food, I adapted the recipe to use olive oil and added some vegetables to balance out the pasta.
You can take store-bought, frozen cheese ravioli and make a dinner that tastes gourmet in no time. The flavor in this savory dish is unreal!
It is hard for me to pinpoint which element I like the best, but the mushrooms and roasted pine nuts pull all of the ingredients together beautifully.
Makes 3-4 servings
1 bag of frozen cheese ravioli, precooked per the instructions on the label
⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
Half a sweet onion, diced
4-6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3 cups fresh, washed spinach
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
A round half-teaspoon of sea salt
4-5 turns of fresh ground pepper
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
This meal can be prepared in less than a half-hour.
Fill a large pot with water for the ravioli and boil.
Cook the ravioli per the instructions on the package.
While the water is boiling, cook the other ingredients, so you can scoop the cooked ravioli out of the water when they are ready and quickly add them to the pot of vegetables.
In a small sauté pan, add raw pine nuts and toast them over very low heat, stirring constantly. If they begin to brown after a minute, raise the heat slightly but don’t walk away. Cooking time varies depending on your pan, so this step could take less than 2 minutes. The nuts are delicate and burn easily. When they are ready, pour them into another dish so that they don’t continue to cook in the pan. If yours are blackened, throw them away and start again.
Dice half an onion and add it to a medium-sized pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Wash, stem and slice 2 cups of shiitake mushrooms. Shiitakes add both flavor and substance to vegetarian meals. Add them to the pot of onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onion or mushrooms should not brown — you’re simply softening them to bring out the best flavor. You may want to add another tablespoon or two of oil at this point so that the mushrooms are well-coated.
When the mushrooms are tender but firm, stir in the fresh spinach and allow it to cook down for a few minutes.
Add the chopped garlic (I suggest chopping it as opposed to mincing it — the flavor is more subtle in this kind of dish). Stir the garlic into the vegetables for 2 minutes.
Add the salt and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and allow it to cook for another minute or two.
Add half of the pine nuts.
Scoop the ravioli from the pot and gently stir them into the sauce. Ravioli float to the top of the water when cooked, so use a strainer to remove them from the pot, then remove the pot from the heat.
Add olive oil if you think it’s needed. There should be a nice amount of oil in the pot, but the ravioli should not be dripping in it.
Garnish with feta cheese and the remaining pine nuts, either in the main pot or on individual plates.
I love putting the warm ravioli over a bed of fresh spinach. Adding some cucumber and tomato will make a beautiful meal. The ravioli will slightly wilt the spinach that is directly under it, but most of the salad will remain fresh.
The oil from the ravioli and vegetables will coat the salad, so there is no need for added dressing.
Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC
Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.