As mentioned in my last post, my husband and I took a little jaunt to the Highlands, North Carolina area for a weekend early this Spring. We had the good fortune to make reservations at a wonderful restaurant in downtown Highlands, Wild Thyme Gourmet. Last time I shared my version of the dish I ordered that night, the Provençal Vegetable Ragout with Soft Cheese Polenta…truly an out of this world dish.
But that wasn’t the only amazing and inspiring dish on the table that night!
Now I’d like to share a re-creation of the dish my husband ordered, a ricotta and tapenade stuffed ravioli with tomato sauce and fresh basil. My version features the same very easy to make tapenade recipe by Jacques Pépin that I used in the last post, and you can find that recipe here. This tapenade makes an outstanding appetizer on its own served with crostini, as well as an excellent and savory ingredient for use in other dishes.
This fun-to-make ravioli comes together by simply placing a bit of the tapenade and an equal amount of a creamy ricotta mixture onto some pre-made wonton wrappers, then fold, seal, boil, drain and serve with fresh basil and tomato sauce. And when it’s done, get ready for an unbelievable pop of lively flavors that will tingle your taste buds. Va, va voom! I think my version is even better than the dish from the restaurant. Click on the first picture below to scroll through the slideshow with basic instructions for the process, then try out the recipes for the tapenade, ravioli and sauce, and judge how good this is for yourself.
Keeping in mind how versatile the tomato sauce is for other dishes, it is well worth the effort to make your own and spin your leftovers into more delicious dinners. Here are a few ideas for doing just that: Italian Sliders, Pizza with Prosciutto and Arugula, Herbed Turkey and Veggie Meatloaf, Shakshuka (recipe coming soon) and of course, the Provençal Vegetable Ragout with Soft Cheese Polenta. You can also use the sauce as a base for your favorite spaghetti recipe, in a pasta casserole, on a meatball sub and in any recipe that calls for a marinara or red pasta sauce.
Herbed Ricotta and Olive Tapenade Ravioli with Tomato Sauce and Fresh Basil
Serves 2, can be doubled
16 Won Ton Wrappers (such as Nasoya)
16 teaspoons prepared olive tapenade (seriously, try Jacques Pépin’s link above)
16 teaspoons part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, finely chopped
1 egg lightly beaten to use as an egg wash
1 1/2 cups homemade or your favorite tomato sauce (see recipe below)
Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Mix together the ricotta, thyme and lemon zest in a small bowl. Working one at a time, lay one wonton wrapper on a flat surface and brush just the edges with beaten egg. Fill one half of the wonton wrapper with 1 teaspoon of tapenade and 1 teaspoon of ricotta mixture. Fold over the wonton carefully, opposite corner to corner, to make a triangle and then gently press on the edges to seal. Use the tines of a fork to gently press and completely seal and crimp the edges. Lay each ravioli on a lightly floured surface such as a baking sheet, while preparing the remaining ravioli. Repeat the filling and sealing process 15 more times. When all of the ravioli are prepared, cook in a large pot of boiling and slightly salted water for 3-5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain gently, preferably removing the ravioli from the water with a large slotted spoon. To serve, ladle a small amount of the warmed tomato sauce into each of two large bowls or plates, top with 8 ravioli, then ladle more warmed tomato sauce on top and finish with a sprinkling of chopped and whole fresh basil leaves.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
(Slightly modified from Mario Batali’s Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe)
Makes about 8 cups of sauce
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons of fresh thyme, minced
1⁄2 cup shredded carrot
2- 28 ounce cans of whole, peeled tomatoes in juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 min. Add thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often and breaking up the tomatoes with your spoon. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Will keep tightly sealed in fridge for one week or frozen for 3 months.