Tonight’s dinner falls under the little-known category of “mostly-vegan-Italian-eclectic”. It began last night when I got it in my mind that it was time to make ravioli again. This impulse was triggered by a lovely bag of fresh spinach leaves from the farmer’s market last Sunday, and it was clear that it needed to be cooked now, before it started to deteriorate. I wilted the spinach in a large non-stick pan with cover, squeezed out the remaining water, mixed it with 3/4 cup of cashew cheese I had made the day before, and then added a tablespoon full of green olive paste I had purchased in Rome a month ago. This mixture was blended in the food processor, along with a large shallot sauteed in olive oil, plus the usual salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Now for the dough: time to do a little research in my cookbook library. Remembering that Ligurian pasta recipes often are without eggs (vegan friendly), I surveyed Laura Giannatempo’s well-done Ligurian Kitchen. Although she had a recipe for eggless pasta, I chose the next one, Pasta Fresca with a single egg, used to make Pansotti, one of my favorite Ligurian stuffed pastas.
This dough was most agreeable to work with, and after the appropriate resting period, I had 28 little ravioli, ready to be frozen. This afternoon I found two good-sized artichokes in the refrigerator which needed attention, so I did them up in my preferred fashion, that is, cutting off all the leaves and choke, slicing up the hearts, and saute/braising them in olive oil and white wine until tender. This would be a side dish to the main event, somewhat Sicilian in style.
Next piece of research was accidental; my eye focused on Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy for some casual reading, and I found a recipe from Le Marche region of Italy: Sedano in Umido, or Steamed Celery in a Skillet. Since celery is an underutilized vegetable, and one I adore, I thought tonight was a good opportunity to try it out. Indeed it was; I cooked it over the next hour or so, and let it cool down, thinking it would be another contorno. See below for Lidia’s recipe and photo.
It all came together nicely for an early supper. I made a simple sauce of olive oil, three plump garlic cloves — finely diced — and seven sage leaves from my herb patch — chiffonade — and added the ravioli along with some the the pasta water to finish the sauce. After trying the celery on the side, I decided to add it to the ravioli with my second helping, almost as a sauce, and decided I liked that even better.
With the addition of the wine, a 2010 Dolcetto d’Alba from Cappellano, we completed our tour of multiple regions of Italy: Liguria, Le Marche, Sicilia, and Piemonte. Buon apetito!