This meal is one of my favorite kinds to make—born completely of what we happened to have on hand. I use carrots a lot in place of squash or sweet potatoes; they’re much cheaper at 89 cents for a 2-pound bag, and when roasted taste quite similar. I found the gyoza wrappers while cleaning out the freezer, and I had half a container of thawed cheese broth in the fridge that was wearing out its welcome. Ta-da! Dinner.
1/2 package leftover gyoza wrappers (frozen): $1
3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated: 75 cents
3 T butter: 25 cents
1/2 cup ricotta (2 cups milk + 2 T vinegar + pinch of salt, microwaved for 5 minutes): 50 cents
3 large carrots (10 oz.), peeled and sliced into 1/3″ coins: 30 cents
1 T olive oil: 5 cents
Pinch of bulk nutmeg: 1 cent
Salt and pepper: 1 cent
1 egg yolk from backyard hens: $0
1 small bunch sage from backyard, roughly chopped: $0
1 small torpedo onion from backyard: $0
A small amount of cheese broth (frozen) from boiling leftover Parmigiano cheese rinds* OR vegetable or chicken broth: $0
TOTAL: $2.87/2 = $1.43/person
*If you have leftover cheese rinds, this is a great, low-cost option to chicken stock: use 1 quart of water per ounce of cheese rind, boil for 2-3 hours.
Toss the carrots with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, if you don’t have ricotta on hand, pour 2 cups whole milk into a glass bowl or large Pyrex measuring cup, add 2 T vinegar and a pinch of salt, and microwave for 5 minutes. Take it out, stir it until the curds separate, and strain. (I used a paper towel in a strainer, but you could also use cheesecloth.) Let it drain for about 20 minutes. For applications like ravioli and tortellini, I promise you will not be able to tell the difference between this and store-bought.
Melt 1 T butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Chop the torpedo onion (you could also use a shallot) fine and add to the pan once the butter has stopped foaming. Cook until translucent and a little brown around the edges, about 6-7 minutes.
When the carrots are done roasting, add them, the onion and butter mixture, and the ricotta to a small food processor and puree. Season to taste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan, nutmeg, and egg yolk.
Form the ravioli in whichever way you see fit. (I just put one wrapper on top of the other with about 1 T of filling in the middle, sealed the edges with water, and pressed down with a fork.) Normally I would make my own pasta for this, and if you have the time, I recommend you do it—it would be even cheaper and look nicer. As you can see, some of the gyoza wrappers were torn or misshapen, so the finished product wasn’t very consistent.
Boil a large pot of salted water and add the ravioli, stirring very gently if you’re using gyoza wrappers, as they will be fragile. Cook until just finished, about 2-3 minutes depending on thickness.
Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 T of butter to a large skillet and, when it’s stopped foaming, add in the sage. Stir for a couple of minutes until crisp, then add a splash of broth. When the ravioli are just about done, add them to the simmering broth/butter sauce and spoon some of it over them. Serve in ravioli in a wide, shallow bowl (as seen above) with the cheese broth and the remaining Parmesan.