Use wonton wrappers to make this a doable weeknight dish
Love homemade ravioli, but can’t spare the time to make it? Well, we have a handy shortcut.
Wonton wrappers are a great substitute for homemade pasta when you’re making ravioli. Their taste and texture are similar, and you can buy them ready-to-use at most grocery stores.
This method is so convenient, you’ll be able to make ravioli for weeknight dinner. And it’s so tasty, you can serve it at weekend dinner parties, too.
Your grateful guests will think you labored all day in the kitchen. We won’t tell if you don’t.
Recipe: Pumpkin Ravioli with Herbal Butter Sauce
Fresh, homemade pasta is great – especially in ravioli. But it takes time to make homemade dough from scratch. Then you have to roll it out, shape it, and fill each ravioli. So homemade ravioli tends to be a “special occasion” dish for most of us.
Unless, of course, we just use wonton wrappers instead.
Fresh wonton wrappers are available in the produce department at most supermarkets (usually in the refrigerated display). Sometimes you can also find them in the frozen foods section (defrost those before using).
You can fill ravioli with a range of tasty tidbits. We’re going with pumpkin this time since it’s autumn in our part of the world.
We use canned pumpkin in this dish because it’s readily available, and generally quite flavorful. But you could also use leftover roast pumpkin that’s been puréed, or substitute another squash.
Prep time for this dish depends on how fast you work. We can mix the pumpkin filling and shape all the ravioli in about 15 minutes. Add 3 minutes for cooking the ravioli, plus another minute or two for finishing the herbal butter sauce.
This recipe yields about 24 ravioli (but see Notes). We figure on 3 ravioli per serving for a first course, and 6 or 8 for a main course.
For the ravioli:
- 1 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 egg, separated (preferably a pasteurized egg; see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste; see Notes)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
- ~2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about ¾ cup, tightly packed)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 package wonton wrappers (the brand we use contains 48 wrappers per package; may also substitute homemade pasta – see Notes)
- ~2 tablespoons kosher salt for seasoning the cooking water
- 1 stick butter
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh herb of choice (we like fresh rosemary, but sage or thyme would also work well)
- additional 1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (plus extra for serving at table)
- salt to taste (several pinches for us)
- black pepper to taste (about a dozen grinds for us)
- Open the can of pumpkin. Use a spatula to scrape the pumpkin into a medium mixing bowl.
- Separate the egg, reserving the white. Add the egg yolk to the pumpkin. Add the salt and nutmeg to the pumpkin, then mix.
- Grate the cheese, then add it to the pumpkin and mix it in. Taste (but only if you used pasteurized egg). Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Add the water to the egg white, then beat together. Set aside.
- Now start forming the ravioli. (Be aware that, once opened, wonton wrappers dry out quickly. So keep them covered with a damp towel until ready to use). Open the package of wonton wrappers and take out 2. Place them on a clean kitchen counter, keeping the rest of the wrappers covered with a damp towel. Dip your impeccably clean finger into the egg/water mixture (or use a pastry brush). Dampen the perimeter of one wonton wrapper with the egg/water mixture – this helps the ravioli stick together after they’re formed. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons of pumpkin mixture onto the middle of the wrapper, then spread it out a bit. (You may need to adjust the amount of filling, depending on the size of your wonton wrappers.) Place the second wonton wrapper on top of the first, lining up the edges. Seal the edges by pressing them together (while also pressing out any trapped air). Be sure all 4 edges of the ravioli are sealed – if they’re not, the filling will leak out when you cook the ravioli. Repeat until you’ve used all the wonton wrappers. (We usually form several ravioli at a time, but start with just one until you get the hang of it.)
- If you don’t want to cook the ravioli right away, place them on a sheet pan and cover it with cling wrap. Refrigerate the ravioli until ready to cook.
- When you’re ready to cook the ravioli, fill a large cooking pot with water (use a pot that holds least 4 quarts; 6 is better). Bring the water to a boil.
- While the cooking water is heating, start making the sauce. Place the stick of butter in a large frying pan (ideally one that measures 12 inches) over medium-low heat (you want the butter to melt slowly, without simmering). As the butter melts, rinse off the herbs, pat them dry, then mince them. Once the butter is melted, add the chopped herbs and mix them in. Keep the butter-and-herb mixture over low heat until Step 11. Grate the additional cheese and set aside.
- By now, the cooking water should be boiling. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to season the water, then carefully slide several ravioli into the water. We usually add just a handful at a time until all the ravioli are in the cooking pot (see Notes). Adjust the heat so the water is just simmering. Set a timer for 3 minutes.
- The ravioli should be done after 3 minutes (they will float to the surface of the water when they’re ready; if they’re not done, cook another minute). Ladle out a cup of the cooking liquid, and reserve. Then, using a large skimmer or spider, fish out the cooked ravioli and place them in the frying pan that contains the butter mixture.
- Turn up the heat under the frying pan. Add enough of the reserved pasta water to thinly coat all the ravioli (you’ll need about ½ cup, or maybe a bit less). Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove the frying pan from the heat. Add the ounce of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus salt and black pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine.
- Dish up the ravioli and serve. We like to add a garnish of extra grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, along with a sprig of the herb we’ve used in the herbal butter sauce.
- Why add the ravioli to the cooking pot by handfuls? As insurance in case you haven't thoroughly sealed the ravioli (homemade ravioli tend to be more fragile than the store-bought variety). So if you add them all at once, improperly sealed ones are more likely to fall apart.
- As noted above, the wonton wrappers we buy come in packages of 48 – enough for 24 ravioli. We usually have a bit of pumpkin filling left over (although that varies depending on how much we put in each ravioli).
- What to do with the leftover pumpkin filling? You could make more ravioli, of course (though you’d need more wonton wrappers). Or you could make pumpkin bruschetta: Just spread the filling on rounds of French or Italian bread, cover with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and slide under the broiler of an oven for a few minutes.
- Do commercial wonton wrappers really taste as good as homemade pasta dough? Yup, we think so. Purists would say they’re not quite as good, but the flavor and texture are very close. So close that we’re probably out of the business of making pasta dough when it comes to homemade ravioli – because this method is so much quicker and easier.
- But if you still want to make ravioli with homemade dough, here’s how (using our homemade pasta recipe): Make a batch of pasta dough. Flatten it into long rectangular sheets with a rolling pin or using a machine (with a machine, run the dough through on the next-to-last setting). Then form the ravioli with a pasta form, if you have one (follow the instructions that come with it). Otherwise, spread a rectangular sheet of pasta dough on your clean kitchen counter. Spoon dollops of pumpkin filling (about 2 teaspoons) down the length of half the dough, spacing them at least an inch apart. Dip your finger into the egg/water mixture, and run it down the pasta sheet, just outside the dots of pumpkin filling. Also run your wet finger between each dot of filling. Fold the empty part of the pasta sheet over the half containing the filling. Press down along the top, bottom, and sides of the sheet, and between the dots of filling, to seal the pasta together. Cut the ravioli pieces with a pasta wheel.
- If you don’t want to cook all the ravioli at once, you can freeze some of it. Just place the freshly made ravioli on a sheet pan or in a baking dish, cover with parchment paper, and place it in the freezer. Once the ravioli is frozen (about an hour), remove it from the pan and store it in a freezer bag (in the freezer) until ready to use. The ravioli should keep for a month or two.
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So we suggest using pasteurized eggs when making anything that you might taste in uncooked form. We definitely taste pumpkin filling while making it (to adjust the seasoning).
- We use kosher salt for cooking and baking. Kosher salt is less salty by volume than regular table salt (its crystals are larger and more coarse, so they don’t fill a measuring spoon as tightly). If you’re using regular table salt, use about half as much as we suggest. If the dish isn’t salty enough, it’s easy enough to add more later.
- Want a spicier pumpkin filling? Just add a little cayenne pepper (or some red-pepper flakes) to the pumpkin mixture.
“Love this ravioli,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And it’s so easy to make with wonton wrappers.”
“Definitely not as much work as homemade dough,” I said. “And the flavor? This is no impasta.”
“Keep up the bad puns and I may have to take drastic action,” said Mrs K R. “You could be pasta way.”
“Such a nasty woman,” I said with a grin. “Or maybe it’s just the joke that was terrible.”
“Be careful,” said Mrs K R. “There could be some punkin' chunkin' around here.”
“Guess I should butter you up,” I said. “So let’s admit it: I’m a bad hombre.”
“Pasta la vista, baby,” said Mrs K R.
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