Bitter tastes can be an indicator for poison, so developing an appreciation for this flavor comes with age and experience. Jennifer McLagan’s Bitter (Ten Speed Press, 2014) will take you on an exploration of this misunderstood flavor. Discover how to add a touch of bitter to dishes to create exciting flavor dimensions and memorable meals. The following recipe for homemade ravioli gets complex flavor from a mixture of bitter greens.
You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Bitter.
The filling for these ravioli can be made with any mixture of bitter greens you want. Using a combination of greens makes for a more complex flavor. Make sure you use some escarole so you have the pale inside leaves to add to the dish just before serving—they’ll add another layer of bitterness and texture. If you want to make the filling a little less bitter you can add Swiss chard or spinach leaves. You can also use arugula or even methi, which are fresh fenugreek leaves. Make the filling ahead of time so it can drain in the refrigerator. I always use square wonton wrappers to make ravioli, and every time I buy them they seem to be a slightly different size. It doesn’t matter: just adjust the amount of filling. These ravioli freeze well: place them on wax paper-lined baking sheets in a single layer and pop them in the freezer. When frozen, pack the ravioli into freezer bags; always cook them from frozen (don’t thaw first).
Homemade Bitter Greens Ravioli Recipe
• 6 packed cups / 7 ounces / 200 g trimmed bitter green leaves
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup / 22 g finely chopped chives
• 1/4cup / 55 g ricotta cheese
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 egg white
• 1 teaspoon water
• One 7-1/2-ounce / 215-g package square wonton wrappers
• 3/4 cup / 6 ounces / 170 g unsalted butter
• 1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1-1/2 cups / 1-3/4 ounces / 50 g shredded pale escarole leaves, optional
• 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
• Pecorino cheese
1. Rinse the leaves; remove and discard any thick stems, then slice the leaves thinly. In a frying pan with a lid, heat the oil over low heat. Add the leaves, stir, cover, and cook very gently, stirring from time to time, until soft. Tip the mixture into a sieve and allow to cool. Put the sieve over a bowl, cover the mixture with plastic wrap, place a weight on top, and refrigerate overnight.
2. Next morning, place the drained greens mixture in a food processor and puree. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the chives and ricotta cheese, until blended. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. You should have about 1 cup / 230 g of mixture.
3. Whisk the egg white with the water. Put a wonton wrapper, floured side down, on the counter, and place a heaped tea- spoon of the bitter greens mixture in the center. Brush the visible surface of the wonton wrapper with the egg white mixture, then top with a second wrapper, floured side up. Press well to expel all the air trapped in the ravioli and seal. Then, using a cookie cutter centered on the mound of filling, trim the ravioli into a round; press the edges again to make sure the ravioli is well sealed, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and mixture, placing them slightly overlapping on the baking sheet. Cover the ravioli with a clean dish towel and refrigerate until ready to cook (up to 4 hours), or freeze.
4. To cook, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the butter into small pieces and place in a large frying pan over low heat. When the butter is melted, increase the heat to medium and cook until the milk solids just start to brown and you can smell a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the lemon juice; the butter will bubble and spit.
5. When the water is boiling, add some salt, and drop in the ravioli in batches; don’t crowd them. Simmer until the ravioli float to the surface of the water and the wonton wrappers become slightly transparent, about 3 minutes. Drain the ravioli and add to the pan with the butter. When all the ravioli are cooked, return the pan to the heat and carefully turn the ravioli to coat with the sauce. Add the shredded escarole and parsley and some grated Pecorino, then serve immediately with more Pecorino.
More recipes from Bitter
Reprinted with permission from Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.