Sometimes recipes write themselves. And if recipes were writers, this, my friend, is a Nobel laureate! Well…maybe it isn’t serving the greatest benefit to all of humankind, but it’s definitely a tasty benefit to your taste buds! And it might be something new for you. I love toasted ravioli. It was one of my guilty pleasures, especially on a football Sunday, it was also created here in my hometown, or so the story goes.
A little taste of midwestern Americana, most accounts of toasted ravioli trace its origins to The Hill, a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood in South St. Louis. Supposedly, a guy named Chef Fritz accidentally dropped a ravioli into the fryer at the legendary Mama Campisi’s. “Mickey Garagiola, older brother of Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Joe Garagiola, was actually at the bar during the mishap and was the first to witness and taste the accidental treat. Other people have tried to take credit, but being a passionate Cardinal fan, I’m going with the Garagiola’s on this one!
Traditionally toasted rav’s are served with a tomato meat sauce for dipping. And if you’ve never had them, I highly recommend eating them that way at some point. However, we will lightly pan fry them for this recipe and drop them right into a decadent creamy, cheesy fondue and finish them in the oven.
The fondue is also a treat to be savored! An apres-ski pleasure in the Alps, Swiss fondue is essentially a mixture of cheese, wine, and flour. You can use it as a sauce over pasta, a dip for veggies, and of course, as a base for these yummy ravioli. So whether you’re congregating after a day on the mountain with friends or just looking for a rich, velvety cheese sauce that cannot be matched, this recipe is for you. Oh, and don’t forget to top it with your favorite vegan parmesan!
So yummy and easy to make, these toasted ravioli can be served with a simple marinara, or dressed up and served in a creamy cheesy fondue! Make sure you use an oil with a high smoke point (over 400°F.) meant for frying.
1 (12 oz) pack of Nasoya Vegan Won Ton Wraps *see note
1 package of vegan plant-based Italian sausage (I only use Hungry Planet) **see note
1 package of vegan mozzarella, crumbled into 1″ pieces (I like Miyoko’s) ***see note
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup plant-based milk
2 tablespoons of egg replacer (I like Just Egg, but you can also use aquafaba)
3 cups frying oil (I use safflower oil–510°F, or peanut oil–450°F)
1/2cupdry white wine (for non-alcohol, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar to 1/4 cup water)
1clovegarlic, whole peeled
3cupsvegan white cheese I used Violife feta, Daiya Farmhouse (block) Jalapeno, and Miyoko’s mozzarella (vegan parm and nutritional yeast would work well too)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoons Kirsch (or cherry juice)
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice (if using vinegar in place of wine, skip the lemon juice)
1 teaspoon dried basil, 2 teaspoons if using fresh
Dash of paprika
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of white pepper
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
I like to make the fondue first. You can assemble the ravioli in advance, but if not eating them the day of, put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer.
Rub the inside of an enameled cast-iron casserole with the garlic clove; discard the garlic.
Combine the grated cheeses with the wine and tapioca starch.
Add lemon juice, basil, paprika, and garlic powder to the pot and cook over moderate heat, occasionally stirring until the cheeses melt about 5 minutes.
Add the kirsch, vegetable stock, and a generous pinch each of pepper and nutmeg and cook, stirring gently, until creamy and smooth, about 10 minutes; don’t overcook the fondue, or it will get stringy. Remove from heat.
Turn on the oven. Set to broil.
Warm a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 water. Saute onions until they soften and become translucent (about 8 minutes).
Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
Add sausage, oregano, and salt/pepper. Saute until the sausage begins to brown if ingredients start to stick at 1-2 tablespoons of water.
Add mozzarella cheese and stir until melted.
Remove from heat and set mixture aside.
TOOLS–(Pastry brush, a small bowl of water. A ravioli cutter is helpful but optional)
To assemble ravioli, lay half the won ton wrappers on a flat dry surface. (Make sure you only have one).
Add 1 tablespoon of filling to the middle of each won ton wrap.
Dip a pastry brush into water and lightly brush the perimeter of the won ton wrapper.
Using the other half of the wraps, brush one side of the wrap with a small amount of water and lay the wet side down directly on top of the meat-filled wrap. Repeat until all 24 are sealed. I like to start at the top and work my way around sealing the edges with my fingers. You can apply slight pressure to the middle and press down around the filling. Take a little water and smooth it down with your finger if it tears. Make sure they are sealed well. If using a ravioli cutter, press down until ravioli is cut and well sealed. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Combine milk and egg sub in a small bowl. Place breadcrumbs in a pie pan or shallow bottomed bowl. Dip ravioli in milk mixture and coat with breadcrumbs.
In a large, heavy pan, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat oil over medium heat until a small amount of breading sizzles and turns brown. Fry ravioli a few at a time, 1 minute on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
To a medium casserole dish, add fondue and place ravioli on top. Spoon fondue sauce onto ravioli to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add 1/4 cup of water or vegetable stock to thin.
Place in oven and bake until fondue is bubbly and slightly browned. About 2-3 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and basil!
To serve, place ravioli on a plate and drizzle with fondue. Top with parsley and additional parmesan.
*One pack of won ton wrappers makes 24 ravioli.
**I’ve tried a half dozen or so plant-based sausages, and nothing compares to the flavor and texture of Hungry Planet. It also has a whopping 17g of protein and zero fat!
***I like whole block vegan cheeses. I’m not too fond of shredded cheeses because of the taste. The anti-caking ingredients give it a strange flavor.
I love pasta, pretty much all pasta. As a matter of fact, I never met a pasta I didn’t like. Though there are some (like a few people I know) that I like better than others. This pasta is one of those that I like best of all. The creamy, spicy red pepper sauce mixed with savory Italian sausage (thank you, Hungry Planet) and served over freshly made rigatoni noodles makes my cuore felice! Did I say that correctly?
Anyway, this simple recipe comes together quickly, and if you’re anything like me, this will make your heart happy too! I love the Hungry Planet Italian sausage here. The texture and flavor shine in this recipe, and with zero grams of saturated fat (Impossible Sausage has 4g of saturated fat), you cannot go wrong. You just have to make sure you don’t eat all the sausage while you’re waiting on your pasta to boil!
1/2 cup red wine (or, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup water mixed)
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons sage
salt and pepper
1 cup vegan parmesan, grated or shredded
fresh parsley, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended)
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and spray a 12″ round or oval baking dish with non-stick spray. I used my largest oval French Corningware with a glass lid.
In a small bowl, mix 1/2 tsp garlic powder with 1 1/2 teaspoons: oregano, sage, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp melted butter, and half of the spice mixture to a bowl. Toss well to coat. Toast in oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta according to the instructions on the package (each pasta varies). Reserve one cup of pasta water and set it aside. Drain well, and do not rinse.** Add cooked pasta to a large bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, add the sausage to a large skillet and cook over medium heat until browned. Carefully remove sausage from skillet and set aside. In the same pan, add the remaining 2 tbsp’s butter, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the remaining teaspoon of garlic powder and cook until the butter is melted and bubbling. Add onions and red peppers. Stir frequently until onions become translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add minced garlic, and saute until fragrant @ 30 seconds. Add red wine and use a spatula to stir well and deglaze any fond* from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until liquid evaporates, 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and carefully the ingredients to a blender, or use an immersion blender, add cornstarch, and puree until smooth—return sauce to the pan.
Over medium heat, stir in half-and-half. Add 1/2 cup parmesan, cooked sausage, and remaining spices to the sauce. Stir frequently and cook until sausage has warmed through, about 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper, and additional spices if needed.
Add pasta to skillet and stir well to coat. Add 1/2 cup pasta water, and mix well. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Add remaining cheese, and top with buttered herbed breadcrumbs.
Bake covered for 25 minutes, or until bread crumbs are lightly golden.
Serve garnished with fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, and additional parmesan. Enjoy!
*Fond, is quite simply, is the stuff that sticks to your pan after browning meat or vegetables on the stovetop, or at the bottom of a roasting pan after it has come out of the oven. Good stuff, just don’t burn it. If you do it’s no good and can ruin your dish.
**You want some starch on the outside of the pasta, as it helps the sauce adhere.
Cacio E Pepe translates into cheese and pepper, and it is my two girls’ favorite pasta on earth. It is a fancy mac-n-cheese. The pure simplicity of this recipe makes it almost sinful to change, so I didn’t change much. I added red pepper flakes in place of the traditional black pepper and used vegan cheeses, of course. I liked the addition of the roasted tomatoes a lot. They are like little cherry bombs that explode in your mouth! The kicker for me was the fennel pollen. I have recently discovered this culinary rock star and plan to use it wisely since it is a little expensive, but the good news is that it goes a long way.
The key to this simple pasta is using just enough pasta water for cooking the pasta noodles. Too much water and you will lose all of your starch, not enough water, and you will have to add a little hot water to make the sauce. When the pasta is al dente, you will drain and save the pasta water, ensuring that you have about 2 1/2 cups. This water is what we will use to make the sauce. Add a little butter to the pan, add your pepper flakes, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then add the pasta water to the butter/pepper mix, and then add the pasta and cheese. Stir until the cheese, add pasta to the pan, and Boom! Dinner is served!
I used bucatini, but you can really use any type of pasta you want.