Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Tomato-Bacon Butter

So I've come to realize after using my family, friends and especially the boy as a lab rat for my various culinary experiments that food really does taste better when it comes from your own kitchen.  Sure there are days when the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen, so I grab my belongings and run out to some local chain restaurant and drop $30 on dinner only to leave dissatisfied knowing I could have made the same thing in half the time, in my own kitchen and had it turn out 10 times better.  So when I get a craving for something, like goat cheese and ravioli, I know that despite the prep time that awaits me in the kitchen the reward will be SO worth it.  And trust me, this dish does not disappoint!  Using a couple of quick shortcuts like frozen, pre-cooked spinach and won ton wrappers you can have this dish assembled and on the table in less then an hour.  When you find yourself waking up the next morning craving it, you know you've found a keeper!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Tomato-Bacon Butter
Serves 4

1 large shallot, minced
1/2 box chopped spinach, thawed
1 4oz log goat cheese (herbed or plain)
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
1 12oz package won ton wrappers (typically found in the produce section)
1 egg
Salt & Pepper to taste

Tomato-Bacon Butter
3 strips of bacon, diced
8 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced (if you're like me and don't have fresh tomatoes on hand, canned San Marzanos are an easy fix.  Pour off the juices and rough chop the tomatoes)
2 tablespoons butter
1 sprig of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon of dried
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

To make the Ravioli:
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute about 3 minutes or until translucent.  Add chopped spinach and saute for another 3 minutes until well combined and heated through, salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer shallots & spinach to a large bowl and let cool.  Once cooled, crumble in goat cheese and 1/4 cup of parmesean cheese and combine well.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray, this will keep the ravioli from sticking.  Make an egg wash in a small bowl, combining 1 egg and a tablespoon of water and beat well.  Remove won ton wrappers from packaging and cover with a damp paper towel, this will prevent the pasta from drying out.  Take 4 wrappers and layout on your work surface.  Place 1 teaspoon of the spinach and goat cheese mixture in the center of each wrapper.  Using your fingers, lightly brush all edges of the wrappers with the egg wash.  Fold wrappers in half, diagonally to form triangles.  Press edges together and try and remove any excess air that may have formed around the filling.  Place completed wrappers on baking sheet and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.  (Can be made in advance. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one day or cover with aluminum foil and freeze.  If freezing, do not defrost before cooking).

To make the Tomato-Bacon Butter:
In a medium skillet, add 3 strips of diced bacon and saute until brown and crispy.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon from pan and drain on paper towel.  Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and return to medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter, once butter gets foamy add chopped tomatoes and one sprig of thyme.  With a wooden spoon gently scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Heat until tomatoes are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and salt and pepper to taste.

Putting it all together:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously, when making pasta always remember the water should be salty like the sea.  Add ravioli to water gently, if using fresh cook 3-4 minutes and if frozen 5-6 minutes.  Remove ravioli from water with a spider or slotted spoon, pouring them into a strainer could cause the wrappers to break.  Divide between serving bowls and top with tomato mixture.  Sprinkle reserved bacon and basil on top and serve with a warm and crusty baguette.

* A few quick tips...if you're not a goat cheese fan (you don't know what you're missing) you can easily substitute some low fat ricotta instead.  Don't care for spinach?  Try a mix of fresh herbs like flat leaf parsley and basil with some grated lemon zest instead.  The great thing about learning the technique of this dish is the ability to explore all the different types of fillings you can try!  Enjoy!


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