Long ago, in a city far far away, I ate something called ravioli nudi. I made it at home a few times, declared it awesome and easy and perfect in all ways, and I moved on to doing other things with my greens. I have no loyalty to foods, you see; even my favorite recipes are things I make only a few times a year, simply because I have so many new recipes I want to test and tweak and re-test that to make a favorite weekly would seriously cut into my new recipe time.
Then I made an appointment to have my third molars removed. I picked up my antibiotics and pain killers, and read the instructions from the oral surgeon.
“Crunchy or particulate foods not recommended for 7-10 days.”
Carrots are my go-to health snack. The default addition to any plate that looks too sparse. The side dish that goes in my lunch box every single day. How could I quit carrots?
They’re soft when roasted, I reasoned. The tooth thieves can’t possibly object to soft cheese, I convinced myself.
So I made these ravioli nudi with carrots a few days before the surgery. And ate them all, a few days before the surgery. They were too good to save for later.
Thankfully, I couldn’t have cared less about food those first few days; pain killers give me nausea.
Turns out, after enough hydrocodone, lovely crunchy carrots don’t hurt the bloody places where teeth used to be, anyway.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a main dish)
For the roasted carrots:
1 1/2 pounds carrots
2 T butter
1 T celery salt (or 2 t salt plus herbs to taste)
For the ravioli:
1 batch roasted carrots
1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg plus 1 yolk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
kosher salt, to taste
Set a large cast iron over medium heat and start 2 T of butter melting in it.
Peel and chop your carrots while the cast iron heats up.
Add the carrots and celery salt to the heat and roast, tossing occasionally, for 30-40 minutes. They should be tender but not mushy.
Let the carrots cool enough to not melt your food processor (is that a risk? I worry.), then add them to its bowl.
Pulse very briefly a few times until most of the carrot pieces are slightly smaller than peas. Do not worry about the pieces all being the same size. Do not puree. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
Set aside the carrot mixture and preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the ricotta, egg, and yolk in a mixing bowl.
Stir them together well and add the grated Parmesan and salt.
Stir the Parmesan in, breaking up large clumps with your fingers if necessary.
Add the diced pan-roasted carrots if they are cool. If they are still hot to the touch, toss all your ingredients (carrots included) into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill and congratulate yourself on being a far more efficient cook than I am. You don’t want the carrots steaming hot when they touch the cheese and egg mixture; they could shock the egg bits and possible cause some curdling.
Mix the carrots into the cheese.
Form into about 30-36* spheres of about 1-1 1/2 T of mixture apiece. I made eighteen enormous 3T spheres, and had to cut them with a fork. These should be bite sized little morsels, though, not cheesy behemoths*.
Bake the ravioli at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
Serve with a light drizzle of espresso vinegar. Do not even get me started on the subject of this vinegar. It is not-quite-sweet and not-quite-savory and I want to drink it with a straw, but I bought it as a gift for Mr. Blackbird, who only seems to want to use it on “special occasions”, whatever that means, and I think it would be rude of me to use more than he does. Is there a statute of limitations on gifts, where they stop being presents and just become household items anyone can use? How long is it? If it’s more than about 3 months, I need to learn to make this stuff from scratch. It’s too good.
As for the ravioli? Well, there’s a saying about peas and carrots.
It’s not wrong.
These are, if anything, better than the spinach version. My next plan is to make a half batch of each and eat them together, maybe with a red beet version as well for the most colorful plate of pasta-less pasta known to man.
*Cheesy Behemoths would be a great name for a band. I’m not planning to start a band. You’re welcome.