Sunday Dinner: Mother’s Day Edition

First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mothers out there! I hope your kiddies showered you with all the love you deserve!

Anyway, I’ve always been into cooking and food, but I have yet to cook for my mom since I’ve really gotten into cooking and food (read: when I moved out and had no other option). My mom is an excellent cook, so going from having delicious meals regularly to eating a bowl of cereal for dinner was simply out of the question. I figured Mother’s Day was the perfect opportunity to make her something really special and show off some of the skills I’ve worked on over the past year.

When I asked my mom what she’d like for Mother’s Day, she instantly mentioned seafood. Shockingly, I’m not much of a seafood gal, so it took a while for me to get inspired. But suddenly, it hit me: homemade ravioli with lump crabmeat. I’ve been dying to make homemade ravioli for a while, and crab is seafood that both my mom and I love. While I’m not quite ready to make ravioli completely from scratch, I’d say this was a good first attempt.

Several posts back, I mentioned the Italian Market in South Philadelphia. It has most definitely become my go-to for special occasion dinners. Knowing that the Italian Market is home to some of the freshest pasta in town, I headed in that direction to check out Talluto’s thanks to the recommendation of my roommate, Danielle. While Talluto’s has many varieties of fresh pasta, including handmade ravioli, I opted for a pound of their pasta sheets so that I could skip making the dough and begin my adventure by assembling the ravioli (the fun part!). Talluto’s offers several varieties of pasta sheets: egg, spinach, tomato, whole wheat, and black squid ink. I went with the spinach since I’m all about colorful food. Plus, that provided the perfect opportunity to add fresh spinach to the sauce as a complement.

Of course, while I was at the cash register, loaves of delicious-looking Italian bread were staring at me, so I had no choice but to pick up one of those up as well. There are few things as satisfying as dipping crusty, Italian bread in premium olive oil topped with cracked black pepper, sea salt, and grated Pecorino Romano. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Also while I was in the area, I bought some organic iced coffee and handmade cannoli from Anthony’s Italian Coffee House, fresh ricotta from Di Bruno Bros., and fresh lump crabmeat from Anastasi Seafood. Have you noticed that the words fresh and handmade keep popping up? Well, in my opinion, those two things make for extraordinary meals, hence why my love affair with the Italian Market is quickly spiraling out of control.

Now, on to the recipe, which yields approximately 25 ravioli. Thus, be prepared to feed a group of 5-6 or have some leftovers. (Leftovers is the way to go. I’m craving more already!)

PART 1: PESTO, SPINACH, & CHEESE RAVIOLI

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb. of spinach-flavored pasta sheets
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend (think: Locatelli, parmesan, asiago, provolone, mozzarella, etc.)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup pesto (my recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto can be found here)

What you’ll do:

  • Thoroughly mix the ricotta cheese, Italian cheese blend, egg, and pesto together
  • One pasta sheet at a time, using only one half of the pasta sheet, place teaspoons of filling 1 inch apart from each other
  • Brush water in between the filling to moisten, and fold one half of the pasta sheet over the other
  • Press down between the filling, and cut into individual pieces with a pizza cutter
  • Brush additional water onto the edges if needed, and using a fork, press down on the edges of each piece of ravioli to create both a seal and an attractive border
  • Repeat the previous four steps with the remaining pasta sheets
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add 6-8 ravioli, and immediately bring the heat down to a simmer
  • Cook approximately 2 minutes, or until the ravioli are tender and float to the top
  • Repeat the previous two steps until all the ravioli have cooked

PART 2: BECHAMEL SAUCE WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO & FRESH SPINACH

What you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp. crushed fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup sun-dried tomato, diced
  • 2 packed cups of raw spinach, de-stemmed
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat
  • Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir until mixed thoroughly
  • Gradually stir in the milk, stirring constantly, until the milk begins to boil and thicken
  • Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and stir in the heavy cream and wine; allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes
  • Stir in the garlic, mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomato, and spinach until the cheese is melted and the spinach begins to wilt
  • Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper

PART 3: SAUTÉED LUMP CRABMEAT

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat

What you’ll do:

  • Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat
  • Add the crabmeat and lightly sauté until the crabmeat is heated through

PART 4: ASSEMBLAGE & GARNISH (PER DISH)

What you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup sautéed lump crabmeat
  • 1 tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • Cracked black pepper

What you’ll do:

  • Place 4-5 pieces of ravioli onto a plate, followed by a moderate amount of sauce
  • Assemble the lump crabmeat on top of the ravioli and sauce as pictured
  • Top with the Pecorino Romano, oregano, and cracked black pepper

At some point over the course of preparing this meal my mom became my photographer and sous chef. Between the wine flowing and oldies blasting in the background, we had a really great time. Plus, we both love a challenge in the kitchen, which this certainly was (in a good way). Speaking of kitchens, hers is newly renovated, so it was a treat to prepare a meal in A) a gorgeous and highly functional kitchen, and B) a kitchen that isn’t the itty bitty, extremely basic kitchen in my Center City apartment.

Anyway, if we had that much fun preparing the meal, you can only imagine how much fun we had eating it. Holy moly! This dish is easily one of the best things I’ve ever made. Initially, I was going to put the crabmeat in either the ravioli or the sauce, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Using it as the final touch added instant freshness and elegance to the dish. If you want to impress a certain someone in your life, this is likely to be the recipe you’re looking for. I served it with a simple salad dressed in my homemade agave-balsamic vinaigrette (recipe to come) and Italian bread accompanied by olive oil seasoned by yours truly.

Since we engaged in many of my mom’s favorite things in just one evening – cooking, drinking wine, photography, listening to music, and eating delicious food – I think it’s safe to say that she really enjoyed her Mother’s Day. And because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I thoroughly enjoyed myself as well. Happy Mother’s Day, Juj! I love you.

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One thought on “Sunday Dinner: Mother’s Day Edition

  1. Mom (Juji) says:

    Lula, This was a really special time together. Everything about it was perfect. I love that as you’re getting older we have some of the same interests. You’re a really great cook and it was a plus that all the ingredients were of great quality. I absolutely loved the raviolis and I think what made them so special was the homemade pesto! With the leftover filling I made stuffed shells and Chris couldn’t get enough of them. That was after he ate all of the remaining ravioli. He was an pasta heaven! Thank you so much for this great memory! I love you! Mom

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