Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pan Fried Ravioli with Mushrooms and Kale

Let me just start by saying that I have no idea why this (apparently happy) couple is sleeping inside a can of ravioli; just more proof that you never can tell what will turn up when you type something into a search engine. On the other hand, this image does illustrate something about the place of ravioli in mainstream American culture. When I was growing up, my only exposure to these doughy, cheese-stuffed pillows was fresh out of a can sporting the name of a certain Chef Boyardee (who, by the way, I don't believe attended any reputable culinary school), and swimming in a sugary red sauce. This is actually kind of funny, since my mother had a killer spaghetti sauce recipe, and was even known to make her own egg noodles from time to time, but I suppose it was hardly to be expected that the British GI bride of a first-generation Greek would be making ravioli from scratch. In any case, those canned ones were okay - the sort of thing that might occasionally appear in your "soup" thermos, or for a Saturday afternoon lunch in front of the TV - but I was never all that crazy about them.

Then came the the great pasta craze of the 1980s, opening the door to a brave new world of carbohydrates, many of them boasting names evocative of Renaissance masters (or Ninja Turtles, depending upon one's frame of reference). Capellini, cavatelli, tortellini, and - yes! - even that party dude, ravioli, all enjoyed a new lease on life. For vegetarians, this macaromania was a positive boon: suddenly there were loads of restaurant options, especially for people who ate eggs and cheese. Like everyone else, I inhaled huge plates of pesto linguine, and loaded up the grocery cart with multiple packages of fresh pasta, to be drenched in butter and/or various sauces once I got them home. Of course, the whirligig of time eventually brought in her revenges, as the carb-loving '80s gave way to the protein-obsessed '90s; but since I don't give a rat's ass what Oprah or Cosmo or anyone else says about anything, pasta has always retained its status as a dinner table staple chez nous.

All of which is an extremely roundabout route to the following public avowal: one of these days, I am going to make my own, fresh ravioli. From scratch. This has been on my "to do" list for awhile, and I swear that I'll get to it. Eventually. In the meantime, imagine my excitement when I saw that our local health food store had begun carrying Soy Boy tofu ravioli! Having heard good things about them, I immediately snatched up a package and began thinking about how best to prepare them. Since I've always been of the belief that boiling ravioli is a travesty in a world where they can be pan-fried, it was a given that olive oil and a hot skillet lay in their immediate future, but what else? A quick glance at the produce section answered this question with some babybella mushrooms and head of beautiful dinosaur kale so fresh that a wee little worm came crawling up my arm while I was cleaning it. (NB that he was relocated to the mint patch outside the kitchen door, and that no bugs were harmed in the making of this dinner.) A little garlic, a little wine, a few herbs, and the result was far beyond Chef Boyardee's wildest dreams. With garlic bread and some sauteed onions, peppers, and Field Roast sausage, this was the sort of dinner you'd get in a really good, old-school Italian restaurant. Definitely a make again; maybe even with homemade ravioli next time!

Pan Fried Ravioli with Mushrooms and Kale
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 2 tbsp. Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
~ 1/2 cup onion, minced very fine
~ 10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
~ 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 1/2 cup dry white wine
~ 1 tsp. each: basil, parsley
~ 1/2 teaspoon salt
~ A few generous grinds of fresh black pepper
~ 1 cup vegetable stock
~ 1 small head kale, stripped and chopped (about 3-4 cups)
~ 2 tbsp. vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
~ 1 package Soy Boy (or other brand) tofu ravioli

~ Cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
~ Heat 1 tbsp of the oil and 1 tbsp. of the margarine in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes.
~ Increase heat to high and add the mushrooms. Sauté, stirring, about 5 minutes.
~ Add the garlic, salt, basil, parsley, and pepper, and cook another minute.
~ Pour in the wine and cook until liquid is mostly evaporated (about 2 minutes). Stir in salt, pepper, basil, and parsley.
~ Add the kale and cook about 3 minutes more, until the kale is wilted but still green.
~ Add the vegetable broth, cook another few minutes; then stir in the vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast. Remove from heat.
~ In a separate skillet, heat the remaining 1 tbsp. of oil and 1 tbsp. of margarine over moderately high heat. Add the drained, cooked ravioli; fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and ever so slightly crispy.
~ Add the vegetable mixture to the skillet with ravioli, stirring gently until combined. Serve hot.


  1. hi,
    i wish you would post pictures of your food!


  2. Unfortunately, I don't have a decent camera, nor am I a particularly good photographer. I have a lot of stuff going on at present (I basically cook as a creative means of decompressing from my "real" life), but I may try to rectify these things in the future. Either that or enlist the help of someone who possesses the skill I lack!