Author & Photographer: Fiona Lu
Ricotta ravioli is a classic pasta favorite, enjoyed at both family dinner gatherings and upscale Italian restaurants alike. Throughout the years, this iconic stuffed dish has evolved to include all sorts of different fillings— from the basic creamy ricotta to savory braised meats to progressive vegan alternatives. A daunting enough recipe on its own for novice cooks, this challenge can be heightened by adding a fun breakfast twist to the filling— egg yolk. If done correctly, this can result in a beautifully silky texture rich with complex flavors, each distinguishable on their own yet also mingling together in perfect harmony.
An “incredibly technical, difficult dish to pull off” (deemed by Joe Bastianich on S5E13 of MasterChef), I decided to go for the quickest, easiest recipe I could find. Rolling out my own pasta dough was a challenge on its own that was already out of the question for a novice junior chef, such as myself. So, I settled on a recipe that called for using dumpling skins as an alternative to pasta dough.
A 51 second recipe video on Cooking Light (linked below) made it look easy enough and only required a few simple ingredients.
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
2 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2/3 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
16 round gyoza skins (pot sticker wrappers)
8 unbroken egg yolks
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
4 tsp chopped fresh chives
Grated lemon rind (optional)
I couldn’t find fat-free ricotta at my local grocery store, so I decided to swap it out with Kite Hill’s dairy-free almond milk ricotta, a healthier bougie alternative that came at a whopping $12 per 8-oz.
Once all of the ingredients were laid out and prepared, I set out on mixing the first seven to create the ricotta-based filling. This part was easy enough, though I would recommend adding a bit more olive oil than the recipe states to help amalgamate the dry ingredients. This is especially necessary if you are using a vegan ricotta, which tends to be on the drier side.
My next step was to roll out each of the gyoza skins to four inches in diameter. Being the amateur that I am, I had not read the recipe in full prior to picking out ingredients so the gyoza skins that I bought were way too small for this task. They were also the only ones available at the market and square-shaped, so I had to make do by cutting the edges to make them circular. This only made the skins smaller, hence making a four-inch diameter impossible to achieve. After many ripped gyoza skins later, I determined that the maximum size I could roll my skins out to was three inches, making the next step in this recipe very difficult.
I somehow had to figure out how to stuff a spoonful of ricotta filling AND a large cage-free egg yolk in between these two tiny sheets of gyoza skins. This was by far the most challenging part of this recipe because not only are egg yolks notorious for being delicate, the gyoza skins that I bought were also super brittle and easily ripped. In hindsight, had I chosen larger, stretchier gyoza skins or smaller eggs, this recipe would have been pretty manageable. But my present ingredients at hand allowed for no mistakes.
The process of separating the egg yolk was sped up slightly by an old trick I learned: using an empty water bottle to suction up the yolk. However, the efforts that this life-hack saved me were all expended on keeping the yolk intact while closing the ravioli.
The first one was an immediate disaster ... as was the second ... and all of the following. I needed to use the leftover egg whites as adhesive to seal the top and bottom skins together, but they were just simply impossible to close, like zipping yourself into last year’s skinny jeans. Every attempt was cut short by a broken yolk and a broken heart. I even tried patching up some of the leaking rips with the cut up scrap pieces of gyoza skin dipped in egg whites.
I was feeling pretty defeated and eventually resorted to making what I was familiar with— gyozas— using just the ricotta fillings. However, this was not before I successfully sealed off a single egg ravioli and saved some of the broken yolk before it all dripped through my fingertips.
Deciding that this was the best I was going to get, I then brought a pot of water to boil and dropped the ravioli/dumplings in. I made sure to keep a keen eye on the ones with yolk in them for two-and-a-half minutes precisely before removing them from the water to achieve that perfect, runny soft-boil.
Unfortunately, the integrity of my already cracked gyoza skins did not hold up. They all leaked except for the one successful ravioli I was able to fully seal with the yolk still inside, though trace amounts of yolk also draped the outside. However, I was not complaining because this actually gave it a nice, golden coating once it came out of the water.
I finished off my dish by plating my single surviving ravioli with three of the ricotta gyozas I made and adding Prego’s roasted garlic and herb marinara sauce for flavoring. A few sprigs of basil and chives for the finishing touches and I present to you….
If you decide to try this recipe at home, you can follow the original recipe video/instructions here.
It is an overall simple recipe to follow if you take the time to find the correct-sized eggs and gyoza skins. In my humble opinion, the end product and taste were well worth the tedious assembly process. Upon biting into my egg ravioli, the velvety yolk and ricotta mixture oozed into my mouth, complemented by flavors of vibrant basil and zesty tomato sauce. It was an artistically balanced explosion of flavors and textures that challenged the conventional boundaries of pasta dishes.
If I were to try this recipe again in the future, I would modify it by adding less salt and also perhaps try out different serving styles. Maybe a nice truffle butter base instead of the traditional plain marinara pairing! Ooooooh…. just thinking about the endless possibilities are making my mouth water.