Ravioli have always been my family’s favorite meal and the most frequently requested dish for a birthday or any celebration. Traditionally, Italian mothers would use leftover bits of chicken, pork, or other meats and blend them with cheese, breadcrumbs, spinach, or other ingredients to make a filling. They would pocket the filling in freshly made pasta and lightly sauce the dish creating an incredible meal out of leftovers and a few simple pantry ingredients. In my hometown of Butte, Montana the raviolis are made of beef and cheese, possibly due to the fact that the Italian immigrants had to use what ingredients were easily available, and Montana is beef country. The sauce was either red or white: a marinara or a butter and cheese sauce .
The beauty of a hand made ravioli is that the taste is balanced between the fresh pasta and the filling, while the sauce is used judiciously so as not to overpower the dish. Why not a halibut ravioli filling? I made a filling out of halibut cubes lightly cooked in butter and blended with bread crumbs soaked in cream, parsley, a small amount of parmesan cheese, and egg yolks to help bind it together. The filling was delicious and I had to stop tasting it so I would have enough for the raviolis. I had taught myself how to make pasta years ago from the excellent directions in Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and I still use the same recipe to this day. I sauced the ravioli with softened butter thinned with a little pasta water, and topped the dish with arugula, toasted pine nuts, and a light sprinkling of parmesan on the arugula.
This dish was beautiful on the plate and demonstrated an simple elegance in the mouth. Why have I not seen more halibut ravioli on menus? I definitely will be serving it at my next dinner party where I’m confident it will be a big hit. The filling was light and moist with a delicate halibut, cream, and parsley flavor and no hint of fishiness. With the soft pasta and soft filling, the peppery arugula and toasted pine nuts added dimension and texture. While I usually don’t like cheese with fish, in this dish it was quite pleasant.
This is my new number one halibut recipe (yes, it has knocked chipotle halibut tamales from the top spot); if you already make ravioli, add this filling to your recipe box, and if you have never made pasta, teach yourself and try this filling. Its impressive and I predict that when you make it, your family and friends will request it again and again.