I constructed a light ravioli dish tonight. Background: We had overindulged with friends at a huge traditional-breakfast buffet for brunch today, so weren't in the mood for a large or heavy meal. Something light and meatless sounded just right; and while I didn't mind a little experimentation, I wanted a dinner that I could knock out in an hour.

I scanned several traditional ravioli recipes as background, then put the books away and ventured out on my own ...


Wash and de-stem one bunch (OK, Hansje, 1 pound) fresh spinach, and put it in a large saucepan with a shake of salt and a small amount of water. Cover and place over high heat for 2 or 3 minutes, just long enough for it to wilt. Dump into a strainer to drain, then chop very fine and set aside.

Place 1/3 cup ricotta in a bowl (I used a commercial "light" ricotta to save a calorie or two). Mix in about 1/2 cup of the spinach, reserving the rest. Stir in 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Separate 1 egg, discarding the white; add 1/2 teaspoon of the egg yolk to the filling mix, and mix all together well.


Put the rest of the chopped spinach in a bowl and stir in 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano.

Sautee 1 large garlic clove, sliced thin, and a shake of dried red-pepper flakes in a small amount of olive oil, then add 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes (I used the Pomi brand that comes in a box) and 1/8 cup leftover red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a very low simmer and let this sauce cook while you're preparing the rest of the meal. Add a little water from time to time if it gets too thick.


Place 2/3 cup white flour in a bowl, and add 1 large egg, 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon water. Mix until it forms a firm dough, then knead it on a board, adding more flour if necessary, until it's no longer sticky. Roll out with a rolling pin until it's paper thin, trying to approximate a rectangle that's about 4 by 16 inches.


Have a large pan of boiling, salted water ready.

Mix the portion of the egg yolk that you didn't use in the filling with 1 teaspoon water, and mix well. Cut the pasta rectangle in half to make two 8-by-4 rectangles. Place half the filling mixture on each, then paint the yolk-water mixture around the edge of the pasta as a "glue." Fold the pasta over to enclose the filling, pressing down tight to eliminate most of the air and stick the wrapper together well. Trim the edges to make them nice and even, if you're obsessive.

Gently slide the ravioli into the boiling water, taking care not to break them. When the water returns to the boil, reduce heat to keep it simmering gently but not boiling hard enough to damage the ravioli. Cook them for 5 or 6 minutes.

Place a mound of the reserved spinach mixture at the top of two large serving plates, and paint the tomato sauce (which should be very thick by now) in a stripe across the bottom of each. In between, place one ravioli (drained well on a slotted spoon) so you've got a pretty "Italian flag" design of green spinach, white ravioli and red sauce. Dust with a little grated Parmigiano and serve.

This went great with a California Tocai Friulano, an Italian-style white wine; I flirted with the idea of a light, fruity red, but I think the dry, aromatic white was a better choice. A good Sauvignon Blanc would have been fine, too -- or, in the beer department, a nice Saaz-scented Pilsner.