May 27, 2013

Sunday Dinner

I didn't grow up with Sunday dinners - but I was lucky enough to have a homemade family dinner most every evening.  Very lucky, and I believe this fostered my love for food and cooking.

I found out only a couple of years ago that my mother, who taught me how to cook, grew tired of cooking a long time ago.  I have also come to realize that learning how to cook from one's mother was dying tradition even by the time I was a child.  I value having received the education, and more so before my mother was over the whole thing.

Because normally I am cooking for just myself, I have the option to put together something quickly or make something as elaborate as I choose.  I think that for families, today's world would make it nearly impossible to have family dinner every night.  I wonder if the specialness of Sunday dinners will survive a little longer than the daily grind...

I think that I am increasingly enchanted with the idea of Sunday dinners.  It makes an allowance for a time-consuming, special meal that I can share with loved ones or enjoy in solitude.  It's a chance to impress or to remind - oneself as well as others.  It's like having recital, but takes the pressure off the rest of week by requiring no dress rehearsals.

After a few weeks of eating simply, I decided to make ravioli.  From scratch.  The day was beautiful and my back patio is now in its season.  The garden is brand new, but it's coming along quickly.  (Actually, this photo is from eight days ago and the garden already looks completely different.  Yep, that's compost in the corner.)  Photo courtesy of my dinner guest.

  • 1/2 recipe fresh lasagne noodles, or fresh pasta dough if you have a pasta machine
  • 1 bunch kale or other greens, stemmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 t. salt, plus more for pasta water
  • a few grinds black pepper
  • 1/2 recipe tomato-butter sauce
  • parmesan, for serving

Cut the lasagne noodles into square(ish) pieces or roll out your fresh pasta dough and do the same.  If you go with the store-bought fresh lasagne noodles and made the sauce in advance, this could actually be a weeknight meal.

Steam kale and set in strainer in sink to drain well.  Place the ricotta in a medium bowl and crack in both eggs.  Stir to combine well and season with salt and pepper.  Give the drained kale another once over with a knife and stir into ricotta mixture.  Set a large, well-salted pot of water to boil.

Put a spoonful of ricotta mixture in the center of each pasta square. Bring opposite corners together over the filling to create a triangle and press to seal.  If the pasta just doesn't stick to itself, use a little water as a binder.

Once water is boiling, add the ravioli and boil about 5-6 minutes.  When they are done, they will float to the top and have an al dente texture and appearance.  Don't worry, you'll know it when you see it.  Use a "spider" (or large, wide slotted spoon) to gently fish the cooked ravioli out of the water.  Set aside onto a towel-line platter to soak up some of the cooking water.  Serve with a ladle of tomato sauce over each ravioli and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Serves 4, or 2 with lunch leftovers.

P.S.  Happy Memorial Day!  I don't know how to grill, so you get pasta instead.

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