These nuggets of baked ravioli goodness take me back. It’s been 8-ish years since I frequented “Ernie’s,” the only cafeteria on the campus of the small engineering college I was attending at the time, and as I recall, there weren’t many things on the menu I enjoyed. Fried foods were a staple, and while they technically had a salad bar, the always-brown-and-wilting iceberg lettuce was kind of a turnoff.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Call me crazy, but I loved when they’d serve up green, gloopy, definitely-from-a-box-and-not-made-with-actual-pistachios pistachio pudding. I didn’t care at the time that it wasn’t a nutritious food choice; I’d have a big portion with my meal – mmmmm – and then I’d toss some in a to-go container and take it back to my dorm where I’d save it for a midnight snack. I haven’t had it in years, but even thinking about it now has me pining for it a teensy bit. (And yes, I’m aware that this is an unusual thing to like so much. I got a lot of strange looks from my friends back then!)
The only day that matched the excitement of pistachio pudding day for me was when fried ravioli was on the menu, yet it was always bittersweet since they served each person a closely moderated amount of 6 pieces. They were a bit smaller than the ones I have for you today, and the portion usually left me wanting just a little more as an entree. I’d savor each one, dousing it in red sauce, and when they were gone, the countdown would begin for when they’d once again be on the docket.
I’ve often thought of recreating this college favorite at home, and last week, I finally made it a reality. These ravioli are baked, not fried, and are coated in a delicious mix of panko, parmesan cheese, and herbs. Crisp and crunchy, they are delectable dipped in an easy peasy microwave marinara. Tomato paste composes the foundation of the sauce, and then water is added to thin it and lots of herbs and spices for flavor. It’s on the thicker side, making it perfect for this application as well as for topping pizzas, but thinned further, it could also be tossed with pasta on another day. I hope you enjoy this treat as much as I do!
As a side note, I’ve mentioned on Twitter and Instagram that I’m trying a gluten-free diet starting this week. More on that to come, but these ravioli were the perfect last hurrah before the transition.
- 14 pieces frozen large ravioli (mine were from Costco and approximately 2 ½”x2”; total weight = just over 1 pound; feel free to use whatever size you can find)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a metal baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside until needed.
- Heat about 2 quarts of water in a medium pot over medium high heat until boiling. Carefully place the frozen ravioli in the boiling water and allow to cook for 4 minutes (if the water returns to a boil, that’s great, but it’s not required). Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the ravioli and place in a bowl. Drizzle the pasta with olive oil to keep them from sticking to one another and toss to coat; set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients for coating the ravioli. Set the flour in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Place the egg and ¼ cup water in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. In a separate medium bowl, toss together the parmesan cheese, panko, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried basil, and ½ teaspoon black pepper until combined. Transfer half of this cheese-panko mixture to a shallow bowl or plate.
- Organize your work station such that left to right you have the flour, followed by the egg and water mixture, then the plate with half of the cheese-panko mixture, and finally the prepared baking sheet. Doing one or two at a time, dredge the ravioli in the flour, coating both sides, then dip it in the egg mixture. Once dipped, hold it above the bowl, allowing excess egg to drip off, then place it on the plate with the cheese-panko mixture. Use your fingers to gently press the ravioli into the coating; turn it over and repeat (you may need to help this coating process along a little bit to fully coat the pasta, but the key is to touch things as little as possible). Place the parmesan-crusted ravioli on the baking sheet, leaving at least ½ inch between each piece, and pierce each one 2 times with the tines of a fork (to help air release from the pocket during baking).
- Once the first 7 ravioli have been coated, transfer the remaining cheese-panko mixture to the shallow bowl or plate and continue with the process (I’ve had best results in doing it in batches like this; otherwise, the egg mixture drips down into the coating and over time it clumps and will stop adhering to the pasta as easily.)
- After all the ravioli has been coated and arranged on the pan, transfer to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until golden.
- While the ravioli is baking, combine all of the marinara ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Heat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until warmed through. Taste and add additional seasonings as desired.
- Serve the baked ravioli with the warm sauce.