Celebrate Earth Day With Michel Nischan’s Sweet Pea Ravioli

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Photo: Andre Baranowski/Rodale Books

Considering that today is Earth Day, a cookbook titled Sustainably Delicious: Making the World a Better Place, One Recipe at a Time, is the kind of thing that gets our attention reusable grocery bags and pro-recycling T-shirts are marvelous and all, but there's something particularly apt about cooking a meal at home using perfectly seasonal ingredients. The book's author, Michel Nischan, is the chef at the (Paul) Newman family owned Dressing Room Restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, but he's come down to the city today for Sustainably Delicious's launch party, at Union Square's Fresh from noon to 4 p.m.

At the event (which benefits Nischan's Wholesome Wave Foundation), the chef will be joined by a host of sustainable experts, including Food and Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin and farmer Annie Farrel of Connecticut's Millstone Farms. And, of course, there will be plenty of food from the book. We're particularly taken by Nischan's oh-so-seasonally appropriate (and surprisingly doable) take on Sweet Pea and Lemon-Ricotta Ravioli here's the recipe:

Sweet Pea and Lemon-Ricotta Ravioli

From Michel Nischans Sustainably Delicious: Making The World a Better Place, One Recipe at a Time

Working with full sheets of pasta is funand impressive. These ravioli are far easier to make than others, because all you do is cook the pasta sheets and then fold them around the filling. The filling bursts with the fresh spring flavor of peas, and you could add spring mushrooms, early carrots, and radishes to the mix too. I like to serve this with a sautéed garnish, like this mix of mushrooms, snow peas, and corn cooked in a little olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6

Sweet Pea Sauce
1 quart heavy cream
2 cups shelled peas (you can use thawed frozen peas
if you do not have fresh)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ravioli
10-12 fresh pasta sheets
1 pound fresh ricotta
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1⁄2 tablespoon kosher salt
1⁄2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Grated zest of 1 lemon

To make the sauce: Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 50 minutes, or until reduced to 2 cups. Add the peas and stir.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Season the strained sauce with salt and pepper. Set aside, covered, to keep warm. You will have a little more than 2 cups of strained sauce.

To make the ravioli: Roll the pasta sheets through the rollers of a pasta machine, or roll them with a rolling pin so that they are about 1⁄4" thick. Trim the sheets so that they are 10" x 10". Cover with a well-wrung kitchen towel.

Mix together the ricotta, Parmesan, oil, salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until blended and warmed through.
Bring about 2" of water to a boil in a wide, deep skillet or similar pan. Simmer a few pasta sheets at a time for 1 to 2 minutes, or until al dente. Lift the sheets from the water with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Lay the sheets on a flat surface with a little water clinging to them so that they dont stick together.

Lay a pasta sheet on a work surface. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the filling directly onto the center. Fold the pasta over the filling like an envelope: Fold the top of the sheet over the filling, then fold the bottom of the sheet about two-thirds over the top fold. Fold the sides in to form a square ravioli.

Spoon the sauce onto six warm plates and top with a ravioli. Garnish with sautéed seasonal vegetables and fresh herbs, if desired.