Katie Green's Food Blog: Red Pesto Ravioli
If only I could have cross country skied and snowshoed to work last week. That would have been fun. Instead, I was left trudging 3.5 miles through the snow because I felt it would be lazy to take the bus. I finally gave in to public transportation on day number 3 as my Achilles was getting sore, and I started to worry that all this extra walking on top of my running was going to give me an injury. Needless to say, I said goodbye to the indoor treadmill one day too early and was treated to a nicely bruised and scraped leg after I fell on a thick sheet of ice. Now here comes the rain again. I love the rain.
This ravioli is a tasty but quick and simple dish, making it perfect for a weekday dinner. It creates a great medium through which to consume a large amount of spinach without feeling like you're eating a salad. While making pesto sounds difficult and extravagant, it's actually easier than a basic marinara sauce; throw the ingredients into the food processor and you're done!
Spinach contains large amounts of Vitamins A, C, E and K, in addition to being high in magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, and surprisingly, omega-3 fatty acids. While buying bunches of spinach may be cheaper, pre-packaged baby spinach is incredibly convenient and much more likely to encourage you to consume it. When you see it on sale, buy some and put it to good use.
Tomatoes: Vegetable or fruit? Because of the way a tomato grows (It holds the seeds of the plant), it is technically a fruit. However, in cooking, fruits are generally used for their sweetness. Because the tomato has savory properties, it is typically viewed as vegetable. Your tomatoes come pre-packaged with healthy doses of lycopene, potassium, and Vitamins A, C and E. By combining tomatoes with oil (such as in this pesto), you significantly increase the amount of lycopene that your body absorbs from the tomato. Lycopene has been well studied and shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
Your choice of ravioli will have an impact on the protein content of your meal. Goat cheese ravioli is recommended as it pairs well with the sundried tomatoes. However, meat ravioli will increase the protein content and make this a great weekday meal for workout recovery. As an aside, if you haven't already tried butternut squash ravioli, you must do so. Now.
Red Pesto Ravioli
Adapted from 101cookbooks.com
· 1 pound fresh cheese (or other) raviolis
· 12 plump chewy sundried tomatoes (about 12), not packed in oil
· 2 medium cloves garlic
· A couple of large pinches of red pepper flakes
· 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
· 1 tsp fresh thyme (use 1/3 tsp if you use dried)
· 1/8 tsp salt
· ¼ cup walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted*
· 3+ handfuls of baby spinach tossed with about 1 tbsp olive oil and a big pinch of salt (oil and salt are optional, as I felt they were unnecessary due to the oil already in the pesto)
· 2/3 cup oven roasted cherry tomatoes (optional)**
· Crumbled goat cheese (This can be pricey, and may not be necessary with the cheese already in the ravioli. If you have some parmesan hanging around already, it would make a good substitute.)
*To toast walnuts: Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Toast walnuts, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant.
**To roast cherry tomatoes: Heat oven to 350F. Cut tomatoes in half and arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together a big splash of olive oil, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a few pinches of salt. Pour over the tomatoes. Toss to coat and arrange cut-side up. Bake for about 45 minutes or until they are shrunken and sweet.
Cook ravioli according to package directions. Reserve about one cup of the cooking liquid.
While the ravioli is cooking, combine the sundried tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, thyme and salt in a food processor. Process enough until it's broken down and crumbly, but not completely smooth. Add in the toasted walnuts and process a short while longer.
In a large bowl, pour ½ cup of the pasta water and stir in 2/3 of the pesto. Add the raviolis and toss gently. Taste and add more of the pesto and water as desired for taste and consistency of the sauce (I used all of the pesto and did not add anymore water.).
Place spinach on a large plate and top with ravioli, roasted cherry tomatoes and goat cheese.
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