Have you ever been at a top-notch restaurant eating an epic meal when you were hit with the desire to recreate what you were eating? If so, then you’re not alone. Recently, Sarah (my girlfriend) and I were eating at one of our favorite LA Italian restaurants, Bestia. As I was immersed in my ricotta-filled ravioli, I put some thought into what went into the dish to make it so good. The freshness of the ingredients was a big part of it and the fact that the pasta is homemade can’t be overlooked. However, I decided that more than anything else, a chef who isn’t afraid to experiment and put together unique flavors can make an old-time favorite dish more inspired. Take, for example, their dish Chitarra al Nero di Seppia with squid ink pasta, lobster, crème fraîche, fennel pollen, Thai basil. Most restaurants would tend to remain conservative and avoid Thai basil, instead opting for regular Italian basil. Bestia pushes the limit with these dishes and its loyal customers come back wanting more.
I should mention that I’m not a professional, just an avid amateur. I’ve never been able to breakdown a restaurant-quality dish into its components and recreate it at home. However, having been inspired by my meal at Bestia, I decided to create a pasta dish unlike any I had done before. I tried to make this dish healthy and also hearty, satisfying my desire for strong flavors and Sarah’s aversion to anything too oily or fatty. For the sauce, a Bolognese serves as a good base. Unlike most people, I put in ground chicken instead of beef to make it lighter on calories. I also chose chicken to compliment the sweetness of the other main ingredient, pumpkin. This proved to compliment the spinach ricotta stuffed ravioli. If any readers would like to try making this for themselves, I have included the recipe below.
30 ounces cheese-stuffed ravioli
1 pound ground chicken breast
16 ounces marinara sauce (or combination ½ marinara and ½ cannon whole tomatoes)
1 grated carrot
1 chopped onion
1 green pepper (or ½ red and ½ green, for a mix of colors)
5 cups pumpkin (chopped into cubes)
Prepare the carrot, onion, peppers and put into a medium-sized pot with the chicken. Break up the chicken chunks and cook at medium heat until the chicken has turned from pink to white (about 6 minutes). Next, add the pumpkin and marinara sauce. Turn heat to low and let the sauce simmer slightly covered for 10 minutes. If too dry, add ½ to 1 cup of water.
In a separate pot, bring water to boil and cook the ravioli. For fresh ravioli, 3-4 minutes at a low boil is enough. If you’re working with frozen ravioli, 4-5 minutes will work. Keep an eye on the pasta and make sure not to overcook it.
Cover the ravioli with the sauce and finish with grated parmigiano reggiano.
Serves 2-3 with plenty for leftovers