“It’ll be a LONG time before I cook pasta again!”
“Yeah, we’ll put a one-month moratorium on pizza, too!”
Sigh, I guess a .500 batting average isn’t too bad, right? I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Milan’s Osteria del Treno for showing me the possibilities of simple ingredients prepared simply. Though their house-cured meats were a revelation (seriously — goose cracklins? Brilliant! I NEED more fat in my diet!), replicating them is well beyond my skill level. These people are major leaguers while I’m more of a minor leaguer, if not t-ball enthusiast, in the kitchen. But OdT’s eggplant ravioli was just as swoon-worthy in its way, and possibly more impressive because of its simplicity. A meaty-tasting (yet vegetarian) filling in delicate sheets of pasta, topped with nothing more than a light glaze of olive oil and oregano (and possibly some lemon juice) seemed approachable.
And my version was certainly tasty, though nothing like its inspiration. I didn’t quite capture that savory, dense aspect of the filling, but my eggplant was rich and silky and, topped with a balsamic brown butter sauce, good enough to crave again two days later. Thanks to my new weekend strategy of making plenty of one part of a dish to turn into leftovers of a different sort later in the week, we had loads of eggplant filling in the fridge. (Turns out it’s a LOT easier to make ravioli with cold, firm filling, btw.) So we ate exactly the same dish last night. In defense of my lack of ingenuity, all I have to say is, “Brooooown butterrrrrr….”
recipe after the jump
Eggplant Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter Sauce
3 small eggplants
1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt, to taste
1/3 cup shredded asiago cheese (or substitute a smaller amount of parmesan, if you’d like)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 package wonton wrappers
1/4 – 1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
Prepare grill or heat oven to 450 degrees.
Halve eggplants lengthwise and score the flesh, cutting to, but not through, the skin. Mix olive oil, garlic, and salt, and brush scored eggplant halves generously with the mixture.
Grill or bake cut side down until eggplant is soft and skin is wrinkly and charred. This will go much faster on the grill than in the oven (which took about 30 minutes in my kitchen), so keep an eye on them.
Remove cooked eggplant from grill/oven, flip to expose the scored side, and cool slightly. Scoop flesh into bowl and mix with asiago cheese and oregano. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Take out one wonton wrapper and drop 1/2 teaspoon of eggplant in the center, moisten edges with water, and press to seal, making sure all of the air is pressed out. Repeat until you have all the ravioli you want or run out of wrappers or eggplant. If you have any wrappers or filling left over, seal them tightly and refrigerate.
To cook, drop wontons into boiling water, one at a time. When they float to the top, they’re done.
For brown butter sauce, melt butter over medium heat in a skillet or small saucepan, preferably stainless steel so you can see the bottom. When foam begins to subside, swirl the pan until the milk solids in the bottom of the pan turn a golden brown and you notice a nutty, mouthwatering smell rising from the pan. At this point, turn off the fire and continue swirling the pan until solids deepen to a medium-to-dark brown, then add balsamic vinegar. This will splatter, so be careful. Give the pan a couple more swirls to combine, then pour over ravioli and serve immediately.