Cheesy Arugula Ravioli with Shrimp Scampi Sauce

This recipe is a little time consuming but it’s well worth it. It should serve 8 people as an appetizer or 4 people as a main dish.

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This all started because I found a ravioli stamp at Ace Mart Restaurant Supply. So, we began looking for recipes online using what we already had in the kitchen. We had a pound of fresh Gulf Shrimp and quite a bit of arugula so I started scouring the internet for ideas. Most of the recipes for Shrimp Scampi Ravioli started off with prepackaged ravioli so those were out of the running. I finally found an Arugula & Goat Cheese Ravioli recipe on epicurious.com. This recipe became our inspiration for the ravioli we made.

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There are multiple steps to this and we did it over the course of a rainy Saturday afternoon and evening. We would do one step, stop and watch some football, then do another step, watch some more football, etc. I think you could get through all, it start to finish, in about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.The first thing we did was peel and clean the shrimp. One of the recipes I read through suggested using the shrimp shells and tails to make a shrimp stock. So, I thought, why not. We peeled the full pound of shrimp and then cleaned them. We put the shells into a saucepan with some peppercorns and pinch of salt and then let them simmer for about 45 minutes. We put this aside to use the next time we make gumbo.

Once you have your shrimp ready, you have 3 main steps. First, prepare your pasta dough for the ravioli. Second, prepare the ravioli filling. Finally, prepare the sauce.

This recipe requires the pasta of about 1 1/2 cup to 2 cups of flour. You can use your favorite recipe or this one.

Instructions for the dough

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • extra lukewarm water

Make a mound of flour and then make a well in the middle of the flour. Put the eggs, olive oil and salt into the center of the well. Then beat the eggs with a fork and slowly start mixing it all together working a little flour into the mixture, a little at a time. Keep mixing until it is all incorporated. Use the water to give it more moisture as needed. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes until it is smooth, silky and elastic.

I ended up needing quite a bit of water (a couple tablespoons) but I think it all has to do with the size of the eggs we use. Every time I make pasta I need extra water even when I follow the directions exactly as written. While I was writing this up, I found this website with some really good information on pasta called Serious Eats. I recommend checking it out to learn more about making fresh pasta. The Science of the Best Fresh Pasta

Once you’ve kneaded the pasta, roll it into a ball and tightly wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

Instructions for the filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped garlic (or more if you like it extra garlicky)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 cups of trimmed arugula
  • 1 cup of mustard greens (optional but adds good flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of soft mild goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Put the butter in a skillet and heat it over medium heat until the foam subsides. Then add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the arugula, mustard greens and lemon zest. Cook this down until the arugula and greens are wilted, turning it with tongs. It should take about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer this mixture into a fine mesh sieve and strain it over a bowl to get out the excess liquid. Set the liquid aside to add to the sauce mixture. Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, finely chop and mix with the goat cheese, cottage cheese and parmesan cheese.

Instructions for the sauce

  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound peeled and cleaned medium to large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup chopped arugula

Heat the butter in a 12-inch skillet over moderate heat until the foam subsides. Then, add the garlic, pepper and salt. Stir frequently until the garlic starts to golden, which should be about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice, oil and the reserved liquid that you set aside while making the stuffing. Continue cooking for an additional minute then remove from heat. You’ll add the arugula as a garnish over the ravioli on the plate.

Making and Cooking the ravioli

After your dough is rested, divide it into 8 equal parts. Cover 7 of them with a kitchen cloth while you work with the first one. Roll this one in a pasta roller. Set the pasta roller on the widest setting and feed a rectangle through the roller. Fold it in half and feed it through again. Repeat this 6 or 7 additional times. Then, turn the dial on the roller to the next narrower setting and feed the dough through the rollers without folding. Continue to roll the pasta through the roller making the space between the rollers narrower each time until you get to the second to narrowest setting. In my roller, I started on setting #1 which is the widest and eventually got to setting #5. Our roller has 6 setting but #6 would be way too thin and you’d risk the past tearing once it was filled.

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This is the teaspoon of filling on our dough

Here is our stamp that we used to cut the ravioli

Here is our stamp that we used to cut the ravioli

Put the sheet of dough on a lightly floured work surface, We used a cookie sheet. The long side should be nearest you. Most recipes have you put the filling into rounded teaspoon sized mounds down the center of one-half of the sheet. My new ravioli stamp was too large for this so we had to make them one at a time by putting a mound of filling on the pasta about 4 inches from the end and folding the end over the mound and then using the stamp to cut the pasta. This took forever but they did look good. As we cut away the excess pasta we started combining it to create a new ball of pasta that we used to roll out a new sheet. If you don’t have a stamp, just put your mounds about 1 1/2 inches apart down the center of one-half of the sheet. Then fold the sheet down the middle over the mounds of filling. Press down firmly but gently to remove the air. Any air pockets will increase the chance that the ravioli will break during cooking. Cut the pasta between the mounds into squares. You can use a fork to seal the edges (and it makes it look good). As you make them, place the cut ravioli onto a lightly floured kitchen towel. We intentionally let ours sit for about 20 minutes to sort of start drying and it seems to help because we didn’t have a single ravioli break during cooking.

here we are getting our ravioli ready.

here we are getting our ravioli ready.

This is our test ravioli that we used to see how long it would take and make sure they wouldn't break open when we cooked them.

This is our test ravioli that we used to see how long it would take and make sure they wouldn’t break open when we cooked them.

To cook the ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. If this is your first time to cook ravioli, take one ravioli as a sample and gently place it in the water. Check the pasta after 3 minutes to test for how done it is. In one minute increments, keep cooking the ravioli until it is done and to your liking. We figured out that 5 to 6 minutes was the correct amount of time for our ravioli. Now, gently place half the ravioli into the boiling water and gently stir to separate the ravioli. Keep the water at a gentle boil until the pasta is tender. To remove from water, use a slotted spoon and drain over the water then transfer them to a clean tray or plate. We found that removing them one at a time is best. Then cook the remaining half of the ravioli.

Here are our ravioli cooking. Notice that they float as they get ready.

Here are our ravioli cooking. Notice that they float as they get ready.

Now that the ravioli are ready, go back to your sauce and reheat it to a light simmer and add the shrimp. Saute the shrimp in the sauce until the shrimp are bright pink and ready, it should be really quick and just take 2 to 4 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp).

This is our shrimp cooking in our pasta sauce.

This is our shrimp cooking in our pasta sauce.

Once the ravioli are cooked and the shrimp has been sauteed in the sauce, divide them among your plates then cover with the sauce and add the arugula over the pasta. You can get enough for 5 or 6 people, depending on how many ravioli you want to put on each plate. It was just the two of us so we put about 7 into one bowl and 7 into another bowl. This was our main course and we served it with a salad on the side.

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Smoked Acorn Squash

Fall is one of my favorite seasons for food. After months of eating fresh tomatoes, light chicken breasts and other summer foods, I am ready for hearty, savory fall foods! We recently purchased some acorn and butternut squash at Trader Joe’s. They have great squash and I love trying new recipes. Now that we have a smoker, we’re giving it a try in our smoker.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large acorn squashes, halved and seeded
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Cut the butternut squashes in half and then clean out the insides of all the seeds. Cover the cut pieces in the olive oil and then cover the cut area with foil. Make sure that you cut holes in the foil to allow the steam out and the smoke to get in. Place the squashes in the smoker with the cut side down and smoke for and cook at 225 degrees F for 1.5 to 2 hours, until tender.

Acorn squash in the smoker

Acorn squash in the smoker

In the picture above, there are two squash halves on the top row and a parted out chicken on the lower row. Instructions for smoking the chicken will be in another post.

While the squash is cooking, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and cayenne pepper and mix it with the melted butter. Once the squash has cooled, pour a spoonful of the butter mixture onto each of the squash halves.

We have found that serving a full half of the squash is a pretty big serving. If you have other sides, you could serve each plate with 1/4 of squash.

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Shrimp Stock

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When we were getting the shrimp ready for our ravioli, I saw a recipe mention that you should use the shells and tails for a stock or broth. I’d never heard of this so I thought it would be easy, since we had a big ole pile of shells and tails.

If you have the shrimp heads, rinse them before using. Then put the shells, tails and heads into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add some pepper corns, a pinch of salt and a bay leaf then simmer for about 45 minutes.

When it’s done, pour the water through a strainer and then you use the stock right away or freeze it for later use.

I can’t wait to use it then next time we make gumbo.

Grilled Artisan Pizza – Asian Shrimp & Cilantro Pizza

Spicy Shrimp Pizza on the grill
Last summer, the Austin American-Statesman (our local newspaper) ran an article on grilling pizza on your backyard grill. I’ll admit, I have never thought about this as a possibility and usually use a frozen pizza as a starting point and then add extra ingredients. For example, we’ll get something like a frozen pepperoni pizza and then add extra meat and cheese before we cook it in the oven.

The idea of cooking pizza on the grill combines two of my favorite foods so I was definitely game to try this out. First things first, I had never made pizza dough so that had to be tackled first. The article says any type of pizza dough would work but I decided to use their basic pizza dough recipe. We’ve tried multiple recipes for pizza dough but this one is easy and seems to be the one we keep coming back to.

The decision of what to put on top of your pizza seems like an unlimited array of options. We have tried many types of toppings and have found that leftover meats make a great topping. Got some leftover BBQ? Throw it on a pizza. Leftover chicken? Yep, this goes great on a pizza, especially with a pesto sauce.

One of the toppings that we keep coming back to is a Asian inspired shrimp pizza. I have found numerous recipes for similar pizzas but the inspiration for our shrimp came from The Roxx Box. I really like the apple cider vinegar in this recipe.

This recipe includes the homemade pizza dough recipe but you can also use store bought fresh or frozen dough. I just think it’s fun to make the dough from scratch.

Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of honey (or sugar)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp of kosher salt
  • Cornmeal or polenta for dusting dough before grilling
  • Extra olive oil for coating the bowl to rise the dough

Combine the water, olive oil and honey in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on the water mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes, until foamy. Then stir and let sit for a couple minutes longer.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl. Slowly mix in the water mixture using a half cup at a time. Continue to mix until all the water mixture is worked into the flour. If the dough is stiff add a little water. If the dough is too sticky, add some extra flour. Continue to mix the dough until it is elastic and doesn’t stick to you fingers. Then knead the dough for one minute on a floured surface. Don’t overwork the dough or it will be tough.

Roll the dough into a ball and place in a large well oiled bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl so that the oil is covering the dough. Then, drizzle the dough the extra olive oil. Tightly cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. It should more than double in size.

Punch the dough and then lightly knead it for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is smooth. Then, cut into two even sizes and create a ball of each one. You can use this immediately or wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until you’re ready to start. We just put ours in a ziplock bag and left it on the counter. The recipe we used from the newspaper also states you can freeze the balls for up to one month and then let them thaw in the refrigerator when you’re ready to use them. I can confirm this does work very well for us. A lot of times we make a double batch and freeze half of it so it’s easier to do on a work night. Because it is time consuming, this is usually a weekend meal, but using frozen dough can be done any night of the week.

The Shrimp topping recipe follows below. This is enough for one 12 inch pizza but the dough recipe is enough for two 12 inch pizzas. We usually make two pizzas and the other will usually be a basic margarita pizza of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Sometimes, we’ll add pepperoni to the margarita. I know it’s not traditional, but who cares, it’s pepperoni!

Pizza Topping Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1 pound shelled shrimp (we use the frozen small shrimp but fresh medium are best if available)
  • 1-2 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or any chili sauce of your choice)
  • 6 tbsp chopped, fresh cilantro, divided
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a saute pan and place on medium heat. Add the red onions and saute. Reduce the heat to low and continue to saute until the onions are dark brown. Then, stir in the sugar, vinegar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic. Stir this until the liquid evaporates and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In another saute pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place on medium heat. Add the shrimp and saute, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste (we just add a pinch of both). Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic and continue to saute. Next, add the chili sauce and mix well. Remove the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro. Now, mix the shrimp with the onions and set aside, waiting for the dough.

At this point you need to roll out your pizza dough. We usually make 2 pizzas at once but you can divide it into 4 so you get 4 individual pizzas. Coat your work surface with grits or polenta, Place your dough ball in the middle of the surface. Start working from the center and gently stretch and pull it from center until you get a roughly 12 inch roundish shaped piece of pizza dough. It should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch think. Drizzle both sides with oil.  You need a good coating on both sides with help give a thinner and crispier crust.

Pick up the dough by two corners and, in one motion, lay it down flat on the cooking grates of a hot grill. We use medium heat on our gas grill for this. Close the lid and grill for 2 minutes, then use tongs to gently flip the dough and grill for 1 minute.

Use your tongs to transfer the crust to a baking sheet, we use the bottom side so you can slide it easier. Now, we take the pizza doughs back into the kitchen and put our toppings on them. Put the shrimp mixture on the pizza, and add the cheese, tomatoes, remaining 3 tablespoons of cilantro over the pizza.

Now we put the pizza back onto the grill. We use a gas grill and what we do is put the pizza on indirect heat by placing the pizza in the center of the grill and turning off the gas in the middle, leaving just the outside burners going on medium-high level. Cook like this until the cheese melts and the crust is golden brown. Bring it in and you’re ready to serve.

Grilled Pizzas - Spicy Shrimp and Margarita