Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli with cashew vodka sauce

Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli

I first drafted this post on 16 May 2013. Back before we left for Europe and at a time when I had every intention of sharing a ravioli recipe while we were on the Italy leg of our trip. But then, at what felt like the very last minute, I made an executive decision to develop a recipe for raw gelato (which a lot of angry gelato lovers pointed out was not real gelato) and now, here I am - almost two years later - finally sharing the recipe with you. It was a long time comin', folks.

A moment of truth: up until the first time we made this ravioli, I had never actually had ravioli that didn't come from a can labeled CHEF BOYARDEE. Had my Oma been a Nonna, that probably would not have been the case. But since my family's German, pasta night came in the form of a cellophane bag and ravioli always got served out of an aluminum can. And I liked it.

The inspiration for this recipe actually had less to do with the fact that we were going to Italy and more to do with the fact that Thom came home one day, out of the blue, with a clunky ass pasta machine in tow. I may have kindly suggested that he return it because WE DON'T HAVE ANYMORE ROOM FOR SINGLE-USE KITCHEN DEVICES, DAMNIT. So he did. And while he was off getting our money back, this recipe was born out of my determination to prove to him that we could make homemade pasta with a rolling pin and a little elbow grease. But this is where I've got to continue the moment of truth because I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that ravioli is a real pain in the ass to make. With the help of a couple of trusty tools, however, the process is made exponentially more tolerable than what it would be without 'em. You're going to need a 1 3/4" ravioli stamp (I highly recommend the ejector kind) and a 1 1/2 teaspoon cookie scoop (because it holds just the right amount of filling for the tiny ravioli). And although you're probably thinking otherwise, I promise it makes the entire process far less arduous than what it is trying to free-hand the ravioli or fill 'em with a regular spoon. Trust me, I know.

Also, before we wrap this up: I made an appearance on Jessica Murnane's One Part Podcast (!) (!!!) earlier this week and it's gonna go live tomorrow. I don't want to give too much away, but if you tune in you'll get to put a voice to the crazy person behind this space and you'll play witness to the fact that my brain doesn't work before I've had a big cup coffee. Which - another moment of truth - I avoided because I was terrified that I'd have to take a restroom break in the middle of the podcast and how embarrassing would it have been to be like HEY JESS CAN YOU HOLD A SEC I'VE GOTTA TAKE A LEAK?

Garlic roasted broccoli
Blendin'
Rollin'
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli
Semolina pasta dough
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli with cashew vodka sauce
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli with cashew vodka sauce
Homemade farfalle
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli
Waiting at the bus stop with our ravioli
Broccoli + sunflower seed ravioli

Notes: The pasta recipe is a bit different than ones you'll find on the internet. The biggest thing being that it's made without eggs (like all recipes on this site) and uses 100% semolina flour instead of all purpose. However, feel free to use all purpose flour or a combination of the two. If using all purpose, you'll only need 2/3 cup of water and, if doing a combination of the two, you'll need about 3/4 a cup. Semolina makes a heartier pasta, which is what I prefer when eating ravioli. (You can also use 00 flour but I have zero experience with that.) (SEE WHAT I DID THERE.) You can replace the broccoli with any vegetable you'd like; spinach, squash, cauliflower, etc. If going that route, I'd use about 2 cups worth of cooked/roasted vegetables. If you're not a fan of vodka sauce, you can replace the vodka with non-dairy milk. Or you can use your favorite marinara sauce - although I promise you the creaminess from the cashews kinda makes this dish. And in the event you're taking it to an Italian dinner party for nine (like I did), this makes more than enough for everyone to have a decent-sized serving, so long as there's other food on the side. Otherwise I'd say it feeds 4 Thom's or 6 Ashlae's.

OH! And although I didn't get final shots of the dish (because DINNER PARTY), I did sneak a few ravioli and make a little appetizer, so you can see the innards here. Also, ravioli stamps aren't just for ravioli, you know.

BROCCOLI + SUNFLOWER SEED RAVIOLI WITH CASHEW VODKA SAUCE

CASHEW VODKA SAUCE
4-5 cups basic, awesome pasta sauce (replace butter with coconut oil)
1/2 cup triple distilled vodka
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 4+ hours
Heavy pinch of fine sea salt

BROCCOLI-SUNFLOWER SEED FILLING
2 small broccoli crowns, stemmed and broken into florets
2-3 garlic cloves, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-4 small leaves of kale
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked 4+ hours
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup non-dairy milk

SEMOLINA PASTA
2 1/2 cups semolina flour, divided
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon olive oil

Add the tomato sauce and vodka to a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and the alcohol is cooked off. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes, then add the sauce, cashews, and sea salt to the base of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Blend on high speed just until smooth then transfer to a jar (or two) and refrigerate until ready to use. The vodka sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Toss the broccoli, garlic, and olive oil together in a small mixing bowl then spread evenly over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 425˚F for 10-15 minutes, just until the garlic starts to brown. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes. Once cool, add the broccoli and garlic to the base of a high speed blender, along with the kale, strained sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and non-dairy milk. Blend on high speed until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer filling to a small jar and chill until ready to use. The filling will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Prepare the pasta by adding 2 1/4 cups of the flour to a large mixing bowl (add a heavy pinch of salt if you'd like, although it's not necessary). Create a well in the center and add the oil and water; mix with a wooden spoon (or your hands) until combined. If the dough feels too wet, mix in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough should still feel slightly damp. Divide the dough in half and knead each half for 2-3 minutes. Wrap in plastic and set aside to rest for 25-30 minutes.

Now would be the time to clean your kitchen and have a glass of wine. No, really.

Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle (generously) with semolina flour. Take one piece of dough and roll it out until it's 1/8″ thick, making sure to liberally flour the dough while you work. Using your ravioli stamp, make light impressions on half the dough, leaving about 1/4″ between each impression. Using a 1 1/2 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the filling in the middle of each impression, then carefully fold the other half of the dough over the filling. Gently pat the areas around the filling, then use a 1 3/4" ravioli stamp to cut each piece of ravioli and move them to the side. Repeat this process with the second piece of dough. When you're left with the scraps, wet your hands and knead them into one large ball and re-roll, making sure to liberally flour your work surface. Continue wetting your hands and rolling the scraps until you can't make anymore ravioli. I got 60 pieces of ravioli and a single-serving of farfalle out of the dough.

Line a large baking sheet with a wire rack; set aside. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring water and a heavy pinch of salt to a boil. Once boiling, add 1/3 of the ravioli and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they're floating on the surface. Spoon them out onto the prepared baking sheet and let dry for about one minute. Transfer to a large bowl and drizzle with a bit of olive oil (no more than 1 teaspoon) and gently toss to combine. Continue process with remaining ravioli. At this point you can either freeze the ravioli for later use or move on to the main dish.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large baking dish, such as a dutch oven, spoon 1/2 cup of the cashew vodka sauce into the bottom of the dish and layer with ravioli. Continue layering until you've used at least 40 of the ravioli and end with a thin layer of sauce (don't worry about covering all of the ravioli). Cover dish with a lid (or foil) and bake at 350˚F for 15-20 minutes. Top with chopped kale and sunflower seeds, if desired. Serve immediately. Will keep refrigerated for up to three days. Reheat in the oven as needed.

Yield: 55-60 1 3/4" ravioli pieces