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Wild Greens-Filled Ravioli with Walnut Sauce

This dish is an interpretation of pansôti, the famous ravioli from Liguria that are filled with a mix of several kinds of wild greens. Dandelion leaves, arugula and Swiss chard make a nice combination and are fairly easy to find, but you may substitute any other greens, such as spinach, escarole, chicory, beet tops or watercress. For the best flavor, be sure to have a mixture of several types of greens.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups mixed young bitter greens, trimmed
  • 4 green onions, including tender green
      portions, thinly sliced
  • 5 or 6 celery leaves, chopped
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped, plus 4
      to 6 sprigs for garnish
  • Leaves from 5 fresh marjoram sprigs, coarsely
      chopped, plus minced leaves from 2 or 3
      sprigs
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
      cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup walnuts, plus chopped walnuts for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for
      drizzling
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb. fresh pasta sheets (see related recipe at left)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the greens and cook for about 2 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer the greens to a colander, reserving the cooking water. Run cold water over them to stop the cooking and to preserve their bright color. Drain and squeeze out excess water.

Chop the greens well and place them in a bowl. Add the green onions, celery leaves, basil, chopped marjoram, ricotta, egg yolk, nutmeg and the 2 Tbs. pecorino. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

In a blender or food processor, combine the 1 cup walnuts and the garlic and chop coarsely. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil, minced marjoram, cream and salt and process to a coarse paste. (The sauce should not be too smooth.) Put in a small bowl, add the 1/2 cup pecorino and mix well. Set aside.

Using the pasta sheets and the wild greens mixture, prepare the ravioli (see tip on Making Ravioli; click on the link at left). Lay them out on floured baking sheets.Return the greens-cooking water to a boil, add the ravioli and cook until tender, 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the freshness of the pasta. (Unless you have a huge pot, you will probably need to cook the ravioli in 2 batches.) Using a skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then put the ravioli in a warmed large, shallow bowl. (Drizzle the first batch with a little olive oil so they do not stick together.) Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta-cooking water.

Pour the walnut sauce over the ravioli, add about 2 Tbs. of the cooking water and toss gently to distribute the sauce, adding more water as needed. Garnish with basil sprigs and walnuts and serve. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Pasta, by Erica De Mane (Simon & Schuster, 2001).