Kind of a strange title, I know, but hear me out. I stumbled across a blog last week (a food blog, of course) featuring little fried zucchini pillows filled with a cheese mixture – essentially raviolis using thin slices of zucchini rather than pasta dough. I was SO intrigued, but the recipe was completely in Italian. Sadly, although I took an Italian class my freshman year (not sure why, exactly – apparently I had lofty plans as a first year college student), I really don’t understand all that much of it. So, while I couldn’t get the idea of zucchini ravioli out of my head, I was directionless – so I put the idea aside.
Being the hopeful foodie I am, I picked up some zucchini at the farmers’ market with this recipe in mind. I gathered my courage and went into the recipe completely blindly, guessing at what I had to do to achieve these little pillows of greatness. Thankfully, my guessing worked out, and the raviolis turned out seriously delicious (and pretty unique!). You could fill these with whatever you want, but I had some pancetta lying around and thought it would add the perfect element of saltiness to compliment the zucchini (and plus, hello, I love bacon). You could easily omit the pancetta if you are trying to be a little health conscious, but I do think the indulgence is worth it. I made these to serve one (sometimes that is the best way to cook!) and six of the zucchini raviolis were surprisingly filling. Try these if you are zucchini obsessed (which coincidentally, I am), or if you are looking to change up your normal pasta routine.
Ricotta and Pancetta Zucchini “Ravioli”
- 1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
- juice from half a lemon
- 4 basil leaves
- pinch of salt
- about 1 ounce pancetta, cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup of your favorite tomato sauce (I usually hate using prepared pasta sauce, but for the sake of time, I chose to use some from my beloved Trader Joe’s)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a baking dish with cooking spray. Take one of your zucchini halves and starting from the inside of the zucchini, use a vegetable peeler to gently peel very thin ribbons of the zucchini. Repeat with the other half of the zucchini.
You just made your “ravioli” dough! For a self proclaimed pasta freak, it surprised me how excited I was about this. Next, heat up a pan and cook your pancetta in until browned (about six minutes).
When the pancetta is done, remove it with a slotted spoon to a plate with a paper towel to let it drain. Next, mix your filling. Put the ricotta, basil, lemon juice and parmesan in a food processor and give it a nice whir until combined. Remove from the processor and stir in the pancetta.
Now that your filling is ready, it is time to assemble your raviolis. Start by arranging two slices of your zucchini in a cross, like this:
Place a small amount of filling (a little goes a LONG way) in the center of the cross, like this:
Fold the zucchini into a little package, starting with the ribbon that is on the bottom. Finish wit the remaining zucchini slices. Your raviolis should look something like this:
Heat up some olive oil in a pan, and when it is hot place the raviolis (folded side down!) in the pan. Cook until browned on each side – about three minutes per side. I like my zucchini pretty burnt, so I might have exceeded this three minutes.
When the zucchinis are ready, transfer them to your prepared baking dish. Cover with the tomato sauce and some parmesan cheese, and pop in the oven until the cheese is melted.
Serve up on a plate, and enjoy this nice change of pace!