Yep, I have spring fever, big time. And best of all, we may just be done with snowy, icy running routes for a while—finally! I am soooo loving the clear, dry pavement for running! Slow going has been the rule these past 4 months and while my body may not be quite ready for the increased pace that results from not having to tippy-toe over the ice or slog through the mushy snow, my mind is incredibly ready!
And spring foods are also very welcome! Done for a while with butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and winter root vegetables. Bring on the peas, asparagus, radishes, ramps, and hopefully very soon, some blooming flowers! This year’s extra late spring has made my case of spring fever sudden and severe! I have become obsessed with asparagus and recently was turned on to the freshness of ricotta and lemon as a savory lead in small plates and entrees. A bag of beautiful spring peas sang out my name at the grocery store last week, and I found a recipe that inspired a pairing of those peas so nicely with that ricotta-lemon obsession.
Good quality ricotta is essential. Just compare the ingredients with that stuff they call ricotta in the regular dairy aisle next to the cottage cheese and sour cream and the ricotta you find with the gourmet cheeses. This part-skim Wisconsin Bel Gioioso ricotta con latte contains only milk, whey, vinegar and salt. You won’t find that short list of pronounceable ingredients on some of those other ricottas, and the difference in taste is amazing!
This recipe was adapted from one of my go-to sources, 101 Cookbooks. You can search Heidi’s site by ingredient (an extensive, exhaustive list!), so when I have something on hand that I want to use as a basis for a tasty dish, I often head to that list and find just find the perfect inspiration, as was the case with the beautiful peas and lemon-flecked ricotta. This recipe makes a lot of filling, so was used in two different meals in different ways. The first was as a kind of pot-sticker, baked and serve tapas-style with some other small plate dishes (Asparagus and Cheese Tart, and Kale Market Salad). The second was more ravioli-style, topped with a little parmesan and baked until crispy and ready for finishing with a spicy Arrabiata sauce (homemade or jarred—Trader Joe’s makes a tasty version with the appropriate kick of spice). I can also see the filling warmed and used as a topping for scrambled eggs, or pesto-style over whole wheat pasta.
Pea Ricotta Filling for Pot Stickers, Ravioli, Etc.
2 cups (about 10 ounces) cups peas (freshly shelled or frozen)
2/3 cup good-quality ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 small shallot, minced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
zest of one large lemon
1 package of wonton wrappers
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Salt the water (as you would pasta water) and add the peas. Cook until bright green in color and puffy, about a minute if the peas were frozen, less if you started with fresh ones. Drain the peas and run under cold water for one minute to stop the cooking.
In a food processor, blend the peas, ricotta cheese, olive oil, and salt into sort of a puree. This is best with a bit of texture, so don’t completely puree it. Return the mixture to a big bowl and stir in the shallots, Parmesan, and lemon zest. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
Fill the dumplings using an assembly line technique – a dozen at a time (for pot stickers, follow the instructions on the wrapper packaging). Place twelve wrappers out on the counter, drop a very scant teaspoon of filling onto each wrapper, rub the perimeter of each wrapper with a wet finger seal, fold (most packages have diagrams), and set aside on a plate. Place the pot stickers on a parchment lined jelly roll pan and brush them lightly with olive oil. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. May broil the last couple of minutes to achieve that golden brown color.
For ravioli, again, use the assembly line technique, laying out a dozen wrappers at a time, and drop 2 teaspoons of filling onto each wrapper. Top each with another wrapper and with a wet finger, seal. Place ravioli on parchment lined jelly roll pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake for about 8 minutes, sprinkle with a little parmesan, and bake a few minutes more, until golden brown. Serve topped with warmed Arrabiata sauce and extra parmesan. Enjoy!