Ravioli Napoletana for a Meat free Monday. The basic unit of Italian Pasta sauce currency has to be the Napoletana Sauce. The combination of three store cupboard ingredients cooked together forms the basis for countless Italian favourites. The foundation garment of most authentic Italian pizzas, pasta sauces and Pasta al Forno dishes, is the humble Napoletana Sauce.
Introduced into Italy by the Spanish, in the very late 1600’s, a pasta sauce not surprisingly named “alla Spagnuola” meaning, “in a Spanish style” featuring tomatoes first appeared in the Italian cookbook L’Apicio moderno, by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi.
The Italian tomato is much celebrated for its vibrant colour, exquisite flavour, abundant juices and soft texture amongst chefs worldwide. If you have a veggie garden and find yourself with an abundance of ripe tomatoes, a nice big pot of Napoletana sauce is a great way to use up the surplus. This may be frozen in bags and used as needed in countless dishes.
We had this for dinner on Saturday evening. The sauce is cooked in 20 minutes and delivers the perfect amount of tomato flavour all freshened up with some zing from a few sprigs of fresh basil. Tricky was in the mood for something creamy so here is how one achieves this. I find that sometimes cooks make the mistake of adding cream to a pot of sauce; this is not going to give you the best results. Cook you’re your pasta; in this case we had ravioli; drain them, put them back into the pot and add the fresh cream to the naked cooked pasta. The ravioli will suck in some of the cream giving you exactly the right finish in the mouth but still combining with the Napoletana sauce
to give you a red sea of creamyness.
Napoletana Pasta Sauce
6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 red onion chopped
2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
1 glass of dry white wine (or vegetable stock)
2 tins of Peeled Tomatoes – crushed by hand
1 handful of fresh basil leaves
½ tsp of dried chili flakes (optional)
½ tsp of cracked black pepper
½ cup fresh cream
Cover the base of a frying pan with olive oil. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds then add the onion, stock cubes,
chili flakes (optional) and pepper and fry for 4 minutes or until the onion has browned.
Add the dry white wine and cook off all of the alcohol.
Add the crushed tomatoes and basil; bring to the boil, reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.
Cooking the Ravioli
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil Add the ravioli; I used two punnets of fresh Ravioli, and cook for 4 minutes
Drain and return to the pot – add ½ cup of fresh cream and stir gently
Add 1/3 of the Napoletana Sauce to the pot and mix gently with the ravioli.
Serve individual portions and top with some more sauce if you like and a good sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese.
Max had the leftover Ravioli Napoletana for breakfast this morning!
As always Buon appetito