A Homemade Valentine's Day Dinner

As a home cook and a former waitress, I am extremely critical of my dining experiences. Was the service top notch? Why did we just pay $20 for something I could’ve made for $6? Why did I have to listen to the woman sitting next to me complain about her dog’s incontinence for most of my meal? Or worse, why did I have to listen to the person next to me making audible chewing noises while eating? Are you as critical as I am? Probably not… but if there is one thing I think we can all agree upon it is that a home-cooked meal made with love outshines a restaurant dining experience any night! So, forget making reservations for Valentine’s Day and just follow the instructions below to make a delicious home-cooked meal in the comfort of your very own home.

The recipe I’m sharing is for homemade sweet potato ravioli. The ravioli may seem complicated and decadent, but they’re actually very easy to make, and quite healthy. Let me clarify, the ravioli is healthy… The butter sage sauce isn’t exactly Weight Watchers friendly. But, keep in mind that Valentine’s Day night is a night for eating well and loving well, so I would recommend indulging in the butter sage sauce and burning off those extra calories with a romantic post-dinner walk under the stars.

Sweet Potato Ravioli (makes enough ravioli for 6 servings)

To make this dish, you’ll need to buy the following ingredients:

2 sweet potatoes
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 tsp nutmeg
1 package of wonton wrappers (usually refrigerated in the Asian section of supermarkets)
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 stick of unsalted butter
fresh sage
salt & pepper

Supplies needed:
Aluminum Foil
One of the following: Potato ricer, Food Mill, Blender or Food Processor to puree potatoes
Large stockpot
Slotted Spoon or Pasta Strainer with Handle to lift ravioli from boiling water

Wash potatoes and prick about 8 deep holes in them using a fork. Place potatoes on the top rack of your oven and place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom rack to catch any drippings. Bake potatoes at 350 degrees for 70 minutes.

Once fully cooked, if you're using a ricer or food mill, cut potatoes in half and pass them through cut side down to puree. If you don’t have these tools, you can remove the skin to scoop out the potato flesh and puree the flesh in a blender or food processor until smooth. Mix puree with ricotta, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste to create a filling. This step can be done up to 24 hours in advance and filling can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Boil a large pot of water. Set out a series of wonton wrappers on a clean surface. Place about 2/4 tablespoon of filling on the upper edge of the wonton wrapper as pictured below:

Use your fingertips to brush just a little water on the edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling removing air pockets and forming a triangle. Press edges firmly together. Set aside on a tray or flat surface. Repeat with additional wontons ensuring that your working surface is dry between making wontons. If it is not, wontons will be difficult to work with as the wonton skins will become sticky.

Before cooking the ravioli, your sauce should be ready. Wash and roughly chop a handful of sage. Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter over medium heat. Add sage and stir often until you see brown particles forming in the butter. Remove from heat.

Next, decide how many ravioli you're going to cook and how many you're going to freeze for another meal. A typical "serving" is 6-8 ravioli per person. Set aside any ravioli you're not going to eat right away. I'll tell you what to do with those in a moment. Drop the ravioli you're going to cook into boiling water. Ravioli will only cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or handheld strainer when they start to float. You could pour the ravioli over a colander, but that can lead to breakage. Add ravioli to the saucepan with butter sage sauce and gently coat with sauce. Serve with grated cheese.

Now for those extra ravioli... In order to freeze them you should lay them flat on a baking tray covered with plastic wrap, parchment paper or waxed paper. Then freeze for several hours. Once frozen, store them in an airtight container for up to 2 months. If you don't lay them out flat to freeze, they'll free in one big clump! When you’re ready to cook frozen ravioli, toss them into boiling water straight from the freezer.

I would recommend starting this meal with a simple green salad and ending with a delicious dessert. Check back here tomorrow for a great chocolate dessert recipe to complete your meal.


Lia Buffa