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Succotash ravioli bathed in buttery tomato sauce is a summery stunner

WASHINGTON (THE WASHINGTON POST) – Do you have such love for any seasonal ingredient that as soon as you see it, you have to make one particular dish before anything else? I have few. When heirloom tomatoes show up, it’s a classic Southern sandwich. Sour cherries? Pie. Strawberries? One friend and I have started an annual shortcakes-for-dinner tradition.

When I find fresh lima beans every summer, it’s time for succotash.

Succotash is a little like gumbo: It has a long, rich tradition, and yet variations abound. In New England, it was once connected to the fall harvest, with a likely place on the very first Thanksgiving table (probably with dried field corn and perhaps native cranberry beans). But it’s become much more of a summertime dish, and in the South, where cooks have adopted it as their own, in addition to the requisite corn and shell (usually lima) beans you’ll often see such inclusions as tomatoes, okra, cream, bell peppers and bacon.

As Yankee magazine wrote a few years ago, “It’s likely you’ll never be served the same bowl twice, and no recipe is wrong – at least according to the chef.”

It may come as little surprise to those who have followed my column, but my favourite piece of the succotash puzzle is not the fresh sweet corn, as much as I love it; it’s the beans. And they need to be those buttery fresh limas, not the starchier dried ones (although I love those, too). I’m lucky enough to live in a city with such a vibrant farmer’s market scene that I know at some point I’ll see them for sale already shelled, which is a godsend for those of us who’d rather not spend all that time doing it ourselves. If I don’t think I’ll get to the succotash within a few days, I freeze the beans.

A few years back, I saw a friend post on Instagram about an impromptu al fresco dinner in which she served cheese ravioli she had stirred into succotash. Brilliant! Then I had another thought: Why not stuff the ravioli with the succotash instead? Rather than make my own pasta, I employed a favourite shortcut, store-bought wonton wrappers. I decided to include some vegan cream cheese in the filling for richness (and a little tang), and pulled out the cherry tomatoes to make a light, buttery, quick sauce.

The result is a summertime pasta that evokes all the glories of succotash, whether you’re in Georgia, Maine – or somewhere in between.

Succotash Ravioli with Cherry Tomato Butter Sauce. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

Make ahead: Make the filling, assemble the ravioli and freeze them on sheet pans without overlapping, then transfer to zip-top bags and freeze for up to three months. Cook directly from frozen, adding one to two minutes to the boiling time so they cook all the way through.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to four days. Any unused wonton wrappers can be refrozen and used in other recipes.

Substitutions:

Don’t have fresh corn? Use two and one-fourth cups frozen corn.

Lima beans or frozen edamame.

Vegan cream cheese or vegan mozzarella.

Cherry tomatoes or grape or any tomatoes.

Basil, mint or parsley.

INGREDIENTS

Three ears fresh corn, husks intact

Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

One small onion (five ounces), chopped (one cup)

One medium red bell pepper, finely chopped (one cup)

Two cloves garlic, chopped

Two cups fresh lima beans (may substitute frozen)

One-fourth cup water, plus more for forming the ravioli

Half teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed

Half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Eight ounces vegan cream cheese

About 64 egg-free wonton/dumpling wrappers (from two 12-ounce packages, see headnote)

One cup (two sticks/16 tablespoons) vegan butter (preferably Miyoko’s European-Style Cultured Vegan Butter)

One pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

One-fourth cup lightly packed fresh basil leaf, chopped, plus more for garnish

One teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Two tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Half teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

Pinch sugar (optional)

Variations of this dish abound. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

DIRECTIONS

To make the ravioli filling, run water over the corn cobs in their husks, and microwave on HIGH for five to seven minutes, until steaming hot. Let cool slightly, then use your fingers to feel where the row of kernels ends on the wide end of the cob (opposite the silk end) and use a sharp knife to cut through those last kernels and through the cob. Holding the silks end, squeeze each cob out from that end; they should pop out clean and slightly cooked. Rinse if needed to get more of the silks off.

Cut the ears in half crosswise, then use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cobs.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the corn, lima beans, water, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until the beans are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl, and let cool completely. Stir in the cream cheese, taste, and season with more salt if needed. Cover and transfer to the freezer to firm up while you make the sauce; you should have about three and one-fourth cups.

Make the sauce: Rinse and dry the skillet, then set it over medium heat and add the butter. When it has melted, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they collapse and release their juices into the butter, about five minutes. Stir in the basil, lemon zest and juice, and salt. Taste, and season with more salt and a pinch of sugar, if needed. Cover to keep warm; you should get about two cups.

Form and cook the ravioli: Set as many wrappers as will fit on a large, rimmed baking sheet, and set a small dish of water and the cooled ravioli filling nearby. Scoop one tablespoon of the filling into the centre of half of the wrappers. Working with three or four wrappers at a time, dip a finger into the water and use it to paint around the edge of the wrappers that have the filling. Place a second wrapper on top of each “filled” wrapper and press around the edges to seal, trying to avoid trapping any big air bubbles inside. Turn the ravioli over as you work and press around the edges again on the second side. Repeat until you have used all the filling; you should have about 32 ravioli. (If you have any leftover filling, eat it as a snack or make more ravioli with additional wrappers.)

Bring a large Dutch oven or other wide, deep pot of salted water to a boil. Reheat the sauce if needed, and keep it covered over low heat. Carefully transfer as many ravioli as will fit without overcrowding (five or six, depending on the size of the pot) and cook until slippery and translucent, about three minutes. Use a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the ravioli as they are cooked through to serving plates, putting four to six ravioli on each plate. Repeat until all the ravioli are cooked.

To serve, spoon the sauce on the ravioli on the plates. Sprinkle with more of the chopped basil, and serve warm.

NUTRITION

Calories: 554; Carbohydrates: 61 grams (g); Cholesterol: 6 milligrams (mg); Fat: 30 g; Fiber: 5 g; Protein: 12 g; Saturated Fat: 23 g; Sodium: 1014 mg; Sugar: 5 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

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