Creamy and vibrant green, this filling is almost too pretty to tuck into ravioli.
Fresh, whole-milk ricotta gives the purée its smooth texture and sweet flavor, while chard brings its earthy, beet-like flavor and firms up the filling so that it can be piped into place with ease. Spicy nutmeg and black pepper cut through the richness of the purée and accentuate its creaminess.
- Chard work. Cook the chard thoroughly to soften the tough, stringy leaves to make them easier to purée – this is essential for a smooth filling. Once the chard is adequately soft, chill immediately in ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve its gorgeous green color.
- Main squeeze. Once your chard is cooked and chilled, squeeze out as much moisture as possible with a cheesecloth or linen towel, and be prepared for volume to decrease drastically. The recipe calls for 2 pounds of fresh chard, which will shrink to about 5 ounces of well-drained cooked chard.
- A reason to season. As you purée the filling, be generous with the salt. Since the gnocchi dough and yolk (which makes up two-thirds of the filling) aren’t salty, you need to boldly season the puree to bring out all the flavors of the dish.
This tool is one we find especially helpful when making this dish.
- Cheesecloth. To drain all the excess liquid from the ricotta without losing any of the delicate curds of whey, this gauzy cotton cloth is an essential tool.
The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.
- Large pot
- Slotted spoon or tongs
- Bowl with iced water
- Mesh strainer with bowl
- Strainer fitted with cheesecloth
- Food processor
- Plastic spatula
- Plastic piping bag with 1/2-inch whole
- Paper towels
- 1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
- Ice cubes
- 1/2 pound Swiss chard leaves (from about 1 pound Swiss chard, stemmed), rinsed well under cold water (spinach leaves can be substituted for Swiss chard leaves)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, preferably gray salt
- 1/2 teaspoon packed freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Place the ricotta in a cheesecloth-lined colander set over a bowl. Cover the ricotta with plastic wrap, set a heavy object (such as a small cast iron pan topped with canned goods) over the ricotta to help weigh it down. Let it drain for 30 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with enough salt so that it tastes like the ocean. Set up an ice bath (a large bowl of water and ice cubes).
- Add the Swiss chard leaves to the boiling salted water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain, then plunge the chard into the ice water bath to stop the cooking process, leaving the chard in the cold water for 1 minute. Drain again, squeezing out as much water as possible. Wrap the chard in paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Coarsely chop the chard and transfer it to a food processor along with the drained ricotta. Pulse to combine, about 20 pulses. Add the egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg and pulse until combined and the chard is finely chopped.
- Taste the filling and make sure it is well seasoned with salt and pepper. Spoon it into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and refrigerate until ready to use. Note: if using a disposable pastry bag, you can trim the tip with scissors to create a 1/2-inch wide opening.
Toasted pitas & ravioli filling dip
On its own, this ravioli filling makes a delicious dip. Serve with toasted pitas as a snack or starter.