Ravioli with Chestnuts and Sage
I’ve built up this persona whereby I’m obliged to hate on pasta, but sometimes, like when I need to get something out of the back of the freezer and accidentally forget to retrieve the half box of ravioli I’d temporarily set on the toaster oven, not noticing until morning that it had sat out overnight, my old obligation is supplanted by a new, and more powerful urge to waste not, want not. Greg, who loves pasta, was a characteristic mixture of suspicious and resigned when I served this dish, but it tasted better than any pasta-based product I’ve ever had in my mouth, and more than 24 hours later, we’re both still alive, with all our internals functioning normally, so what's not to love?
(Mr. Suspicious ---->)
Ravioli with Chestnuts and Sage
Okay, Bing, quit singing and roast yourself up nine or ten chestnuts. Feel free to go with that open fire, but I used the oven because, even though our late cat confirmed that the chimney in our bedroom does lead to open sky, one renegade spark on that hearth-less, splinter-y wooden floor and the whole family would be roasted along with them, as would our landlady, her daughter, our downstairs neighbor, a dog, a rabbit, and who knows how many mice and roaches. (I hear that’s a delicacy in some boroughs, roasted roaches…) The best way to prepare chestnuts for oven roasting (without losing a finger) is to make an X-shaped incision with a serrated knife, just like the Red Cross advises in the event of snakebite. No need to suck the poison out, just put them in the spring form pan that’s allegedly reserved for the sole purpose of cranberry upside down cake, and subject them to 20 minutes at 400º. Give them a chance to cool down, then peel them like buck eyes! They’ll be kind of mealy and anemic, but that's nothing to get excited over.
Boil enough fresh ravioli to (kill botulism and) serve two, as per the instructions on the package. I wasn’t kidding about accidentally leaving it on the toaster oven overnight, but keep that on the down low. If word got out, there’d be a long line of elderly Italian ladies from neighboring Carroll Gardens lining up to box my ears. Save the funny stuff for a real culinary emergency. Oh, and speaking of funny, be sure to drain the ravioli over a receptacle of some sort (Pyrex measuring cup, mayhaps) because you’ll be eating it later. The thought of which would have made me (I can't say what I was going to say..it's so gross you'd never eat again) had I no prior knowledge of how toothsome the final dish.
Mince half a medium-sized red onion and fry it in one tablespoon of olive oil for about three minutes. Use a deep soup-making pot to save on dishes later.
Scut work’s not done yet, matey! Three cloves of garlic and a sprig or two of fresh sage await mincing . Add them to the oily onion and fry for a minute more.
Crumble those crumbly, anemic chestnuts into the pot, and take it off the burner while you get all your ducks in a row, with regard to the pasta, the picky children’s alternate meal, the table setting and most importantly, the wine.
When ready, add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons of butter
and the reserved pasta-cooking water (be strong!).
Bring it to a boil and add the ravioli, stirring it gently, so that the damn things maintain their integrity as they reheat. Don’t fret if the broth appears to be the consistency of dish water. It’ll taste good and keep the pasta hot, which makes it more palatable.
Sprinkle with more sage before serving. Charge the digital camera. Take a picture. Swear that you still hate pasta. Anxiously interview your spouse to see if he thinks it’s a keeper too.
[chestnuts][ravioli][I Hate Pasta]