Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli with Simple Marinara Sauce

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January 9, 2012 by Sara

Ricotta and spinach ravioli, frozen.

During our holiday vacation, we spent a wonderful, messy and delicious afternoon making tons of homemade ravioli with our friends Mandy and Chef Joe.  The next day I made even more ravioli.  This post is about both of these ravioli adventures.

Braised beef and maytag bleu cheese ravioli, in progress.

Joe brought some braised beef (sadly I do not have his recipe) and maytag bleu cheese for the first batch of ravioli.

Action shot of yours truly, cutting the ravioli.

Braised beef and maytag bleu ravioli with tomato sauce.

Mandy made a quick tomato sauce (fresh tomatoes + basil + onions + garlic + the bit of leftover beef that we didn’t stuff into ravioli).  The combination was divine.

Butternut and mascarpone ravioli, in progress.

Then we made a batch of butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli using the leftover filling I had stashed in the freezer after we made the butternut squash manicotti a few weeks back.

Butternut and mascarpone ravioli with sage cream sauce.

We made another quick sauce (browned butter + fresh sage + a touch of cream) and voila!  Ravioli heaven.


I love ravioli with non-traditional fillings like we made here (I’ve also got recipes for butternut squash and goat cheese ravioli, and roasted beet ravioli), but the kids are not quite as adventurous yet, so the next day I made a big batch of kid-friendly ricotta and spinach filled ravioli (that’s right, I said kid friendly in the same sentence as spinach…they didn’t even balk at the presence of “the green stuff” mixed in with the cheesy goodness).

The ricotta and spinach ravioli pair really nicely with a big pot of simple marinara sauce which can simmer on the stove with minimal supervision while you throw flour all over the kitchen and make a huge mess make the ravioli.  I made 50 ravioli on new year’s eve, we ate 30 and I froze the remaining 20 plus the extra sauce for later use.  My advice when it comes to making ravioli is to set aside a chunk of time and make a huge batch — the extras freeze beautifully and are so nice to have on hand for a quick weeknight meal.


For the ravioli (yields approximately 50 ravioli)

  • 6 batches fresh pasta dough
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 30 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon grated asiago cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated fontina cheese
  • Egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon water combined and lightly beaten)
For the sauce (yields a huge pot of sauce; freeze the leftover sauce if necessary)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings (can substitute additional olive oil)
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 quarts canned tomatoes with their juices
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes


For the ravioli

  1. In a large wok or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high flame.  Add the spinach and season with 1 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cook spinach until completely wilted, about 3 minutes.  Transfer cooked spinach to a bowl and cool completely.  Once cool, transfer spinach to a colander in the sink and use a wooden spoon to press out as much liquid as possible.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, 2 lightly beaten eggs, asiago and fontina.  Mix well and season with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.  Set aside.
  3. Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, roll out two batches of pasta dough into two long sheets of approximately the same width and length (I stop at the 4th roller setting on my machine; you want the dough to be thin, but not so thin that holes will form when stretched a little bit by hand).  Lay the sheets of pasta flat on the counter.
  4. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat one sheet of pasta with egg wash.  Using a teaspoon, spoon dollops of filling onto the egg washed pasta sheet, making two columns with each dollop about 1 1/2 inches apart (see photos above).  Carefully lay the other sheet of pasta over the sheet with the dollops of filling, taking care to make sure the edges meet. Use your fingers to seal the edges and divide each ravioli, taking care to smooth out as much air from the between the pasta sheets as possible. Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut the ravioli.
  5. Line a rimmed cooking sheet with wax paper, and dust the wax paper with flour.  Carefully pick up each ravioli (using a metal spatula helps) and transfer to the cookie sheet.  Once the cookie sheet is full of ravioli, dust the tops of the ravioli with more flour and transfer to the freezer and chill until ready to cook (for longer term storage, freeze the ravioli on the cookie sheet overnight or until rock hard, then transfer to a freezer bag or container and keep frozen until ready to use).
  6. Repeat this process until all of the dough and/or filling is used up (this isn’t an exact science, you will end up with a little extra of one or the other — I had an extra 1 1/2 cups of filling leftover at the end which I froze for later use in ravioli, manicotti or lasagna).  When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, add ravioli and cook for about 3 minutes or until dough is tender and ravioli are floating.  Strain and serve with simple marinara sauce.

For the sauce

  1. Heat olive oil and bacon drippings in a large dutch oven over medium high flame.  Add onion, garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until soft, stirring frequently.
  2. While the onions and garlic are cooking, pour the canned whole tomatoes with their juices into a large mixing bowl.  Use clean kitchen shears to cut tomatoes into pieces (if using canned diced tomatoes, you can skip this step).  Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients to dutch oven and stir well to incorporate.  Bring to a simmer, reduce flame to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for about 2 hours, stirring occassionally.  Remove and discard bay leaves prior to serving.  Extra sauce freezes well.

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