Growing up, I didn’t even know chickens had fingers.
Most kids believe that these bready, fried nuggets come straight from a freezer bag. Not me. In our house, my dad made practically everything from scratch. We never even had store-bought pizza dough. With puffs of flour in the air and cornmeal spilling onto our bare feet, we would knead, roll, and toss our own. (Speaking of pizza-like deliciousness: check out my fabulous taleggio and wild mushroom pie that tops Manini’s gluten free crust.) We never had miserably greasy, misshapen chicken-somethings that were pre-cooked and under-seasoned. Instead, my dad schooled me on carefully trimming pale chicken breasts, dunking them in flour, sloshing them in egg, and coating them in crispy paprika-dusted breadcrumbs.
I still dig cooking from the ground up, and I implement my dad’s scratchmade methods wherever I can. When it comes to cooking carb-heavier dishes—like ravioli—I’m always noodling around for ways to pack in more nutrition. Lucky for me, Manini’s Gluten Free Ravioli does exactly that. The all-natural, wheat and rice-free exterior delivers a custom blend of ancient grains and fiber, and the stuffing is light and ethereal. When I set out on a mission to creatively maneuver Manini’s ravioli, I knew I couldn’t simply boil, sauce, and plate it. It was too damn good for that.
In case it’s not apparent—I’ve always had at least somewhat of an interest in the culinary arts. My older sister, Sarah, though—well, she’s another story…
I can’t bite into a tender, cheese-stuffed, creamy ravioli without thinking of the stories my parents often tell of Sarah’s childhood eating habits. Today she’s a well-admired teacher and certified yoga instructor (slash professional kale smoothie guzzler) residing on the divine island of Oahu. Though as an adolescent—it was “rav-ee-roll-ee” (as she called it) or bust. Picky was an understatement when it came to what stubborn little Sarah was willing to consume. Even with a dad who demonstrated wizardry in the kitchen, she would defiantly stick to her complex diet of banana yogurt. In an effort to diversify her palate, one day my dad tossed out the idea of homemade ravioli. Knowing Sarah’s fussy taste buds all too well, my mom simply laughed and bid him the best of luck.
Despite the expertly rolled dough and luxuriously smooth filling, Sarah wasn’t having it. It was then that my dad realized he wasn’t the culinarian for the job. Enter: Chef Boyardee®. Once Sarah got her hands (and face and forehead and elbows) on this canned pasty pasta mixture, all of her “ravee-roll-ee” dreams had come true. It wasn’t exactly picture perfect, but it did the trick.
As a child, there weren’t many edible ingredients that I turned down—so my appetite was eternally ignited. Some things never change Although I don’t have an interest in crafting dough by hand as my dad often prepared, I still find myself curious how I can make this meal my own. So for my spin on Manini’s ravioli, I took a page from his recipe book and breaded to my heart’s desire. After dipping each sublime square in beaten egg and a thoughtfully seasoned mixture of gluten free panko breadcrumbs, salty parmesan, and bright, lemony thyme—I even opted against frying. With a generous spray of olive oil and a blazing oven, I was granted the gift of golden brown without ever having to drop anything into a deep fryer. For the sauce, I took it back old-school for Sarah (with my own twist, of course) by creating a velvety version of a marinara with wine-roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, and fresh basil.
Fresh out of the fire, the toasted Manini’s ravs get a shower of zippy lemon zest and even more sprinkles of sharp parmesan. Yowza (if I do say so myself). Even my mom, whose dietary needs are tempered by gluten free foods, can enjoy every bite of these delicate, airy appetizers.
Okay rav-ee-roll-ee, NOW you’re ready for your closeup.
About the Author:
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast with a passion for storytelling and licking the plate. She recently won Rachael Ray’s Great American Cookbook Competition, has become a regular guest on The Rachael Ray Show, and has been featured in Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine. She shoots playful cooking videos for recipe development partners and tip segments for her local CBS station. Her company Fanfare specializes in recipe development, food writing, and sassy social media eats. Fanny cooks “comfort foods in a tuxedo”—eclectic twists on familiar favorites. Get your Fanny in the kitchen at FannySlater.com and @fannyslater