Recipe Corner: Emergency Ravioli with Fresh Tomato Sauce

by Lorna Sass

In Italy and Mexico, various forms of salsa cruda have been around for eons. I don't recall exactly when uncooked tomato sauce for pasta became fashionable in America – maybe about ten years ago – but it's such a practical and delicious warm-weather approach to a quick dinner that it's difficult to imagine how we managed without it.

I make a dish I call "Emergency Ravioli" all year around, but it's especially memorable when I can include one or two of the New Jersey tomatoes that are overflowing the stands in my local farmers market this time of year. The most renowned Jersey tomatoes are beefsteaks, but I favor the denser plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes for this recipe. If you have access to variously colored heirloom tomatoes, the dish becomes even prettier.

Once you have your gorgeous tomatoes at home, store them in a cool place but avoid refrigeration, which robs them of flavor and texture. It's a good idea to add salt to this dish just before serving. If you add salt to chopped tomatoes, the liquid leeches out, causing the sauce to become watery.

I'm going to give you the recipe for one person since I usually eat this dish when I'm home alone and there's not much else around, hence the name. You can easily scale it up to feed two or even a crowd. As a matter of fact, I often serve Emergency Ravioli to guests I've invited over for dinner at the last minute.

It's important to use a good quality ravioli. I buy about four dozen at a time and freeze them between pieces of waxed paper so they don't stick together. I pop them directly from the freezer into the boiling water. (You can use tortellini instead; figure about 16 per portion.)

Emergency Ravioli with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 1

  • 10 good-quality spinach-cheese ravioli
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, diced or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (if large)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fruity olive oil
  • About 10 leaves basil, torn into bits
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh lemon thyme or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grated pecorino romano
  • Salt and freshly grated black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook according to package directions.

While the ravioli are cooking, combine the tomatoes, oil, basil, and lemon thyme in a large, individual serving bowl.

When the ravioli are tender, drain them thoroughly. Toss them into the tomatoes and mix in pecorino to taste. Season with salt (if needed) and pepper to taste.

Other Ideas: The possibilities are endless. I've tossed the hot ravioli with mesclun or shredded romaine in addition to the tomatoes. If you do this, add a little more olive oil. When tomatoes and basil are not in season, I often boil broccoli florets along with the ravioli. I use only olive oil, pecorino, and rosemary for the sauce – a simpler but equally delicious banquet.

Recipe copyright, Lorna Sass, 2008

Lorna Sass is a widely published food writer and an award-winning cookbook author. Her Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way cookbook won the 2007 James Beard Foundation award for the best cookbook in the Healthy Focus category. Visit her listing on our website.

Back to the August 2008 Newsletter