Ravioli with Eggplant and Ricotta (Ravioli di Melanzane e Ricotta)

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This vegetarian pasta dish is a fancy version of the more rustic Sicilian Pasta alla Norma, and perfectly suited for a dinner party. Although the flavors are summery, the ingredients are available year-round so it is ideal to get a bit of summer in your house while it is snowing outside. The flavor of the eggplant is enhanced in a well-known Italian way called “trifolato”: it is sautéed with parsley and garlic. Rather than sautéing the aubergine raw which would make it very oily, I bake the eggplant first so only a minimum amount of oil is needed. The ravioli are served with a tomato sauce and basil, always a great combination with eggplant.

When you make ravioli from scratch for the first time it is a lot of work, but once you get some practice this is not such a daunting task anymore as long as you have a pasta machine to get the dough really thin. Using a very thin sheet of dough is vital to making these ravioli is elegant as they are supposed to be.

Ingredients

For 4 servings

For the filling

1 eggplant

125 ml (1/2 cup) ricotta, preferably home-made

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

1 garlic clove, minced

freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

salt and freshly ground black pepper

fresh basil

For the pasta dough

2 eggs

200 grams (1 1/4 cup) flour, preferably 00 flour or a mixture of 00 flour and semola di grando duro

For the sauce

600 grams (1.3 lbs) ripe plum tomatoes, or 1 can (400 grams, 14 oz) peeled tomatoes

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 garlic glove

salt and freshly ground black pepper

fresh basil

Preparation

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Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Cut the ends off both sides of the eggplant and cut it in half lengthwise. Lightly brush with a bit of olive oil. Roast for 30-45 minutes at 180C/350F or until tender when pierced with a fork.

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Allow eggplant to cool a bit. Scoop out the pulp with a spoon. Discard the skin.

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Chop the pulp. Chop the parsley and garlic very fine.

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Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add parsley and garlic. Sauté for a minute. Make sure the garlic does not brown!

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Add the eggplant pulp and sauté over medium heat until it is no longer watery.

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Put the eggplant ‘trifolata’ in a bowl and allow to cool a bit. Add ricotta, chopped basil, freshly grated parmigiano, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

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Stir to mix. Taste and add some more parmigiano, salt, pepper, or basil if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up.


There are different ways to make fresh tomato sauce from scratch. You can remove the skin and seeds and then dice them, but for a fresher taste that uses the juice around the seeds and for an easier preparation, you can also just puree whole tomatoes in the food processor. Just wash and dry them and put them in the food processor. You can also substitute with peeled tomatoes from a can if ripe tomatoes are not available.


Process until tomatoes are pureed.


Use a food mill to sieve out the skin and seeds.


Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan. Add peeled garlic and sauté garlic until golden. This is easier if you tilt the pan as shown. Discard the garlic.


Add the sieved tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Simmer over low heat, stirring now and then, until the sauce has a medium thick consistency.

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Meanwhile, make ravioli according to my instructions and bring a large pot of water to a boil.

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Add salt and the ravioli to the boiling water. Boil for a few minutes. Transfer the ravioli to the tomato sauce with a slotted spoon.

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Add chopped basil and toss to mix.

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Serve on warm plates, sprinkled with some more parmigiano and basil.

Wine pairing

This goes well with a medium bodied Chianti Classico or other medium-bodied Italian red with good acidity such as a cirò.

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8 thoughts on “Ravioli with Eggplant and Ricotta (Ravioli di Melanzane e Ricotta)

  1. Wow! These sound so good, Stefan, and you comparing them to a Pasta alla Norma caught my attention immediately. I really enjoy that dish. Capturing those flavors in ravioli is a wonderful idea.

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    1. Thanks John. If you use ricotta salata for your alla Norma, you may want to use it for this as well. I do find that the combination of ricotta and parmigiano or pecorino is an acceptable substitute for using real ricotta salata in Pasta alla Norma, but it’s not the same.

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