Cambrian: Opinion

Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu! How about some ravioli?

Fresh ravioli garnished with grated Parmesan cheese and chiffonade of basil, accompanied by pinot grigio.
Fresh ravioli garnished with grated Parmesan cheese and chiffonade of basil, accompanied by pinot grigio. Special to The Cambrian

Gung Hay Fat Choy (Cantonese); Gung Shi Fa Sai (Mandarin); Chuc Mung Nam Moi (Vietnamese); Sun Nien Fai Lok; and Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu! (Japanese). Yes, we get to celebrate New Year again, Oriental style, based on the lunar calendar instead of our Occidental western solar calendar. It begins during the time of the New Moon, when there is no moon visible, and the pull on the tides here on our coast are the highest of the high (king tides) and lowest of the low. If you are looking at the crescent moon, that would be the eve after the new moon.

As it is the Year of the Horse, I wondered if that were an auspicious sign for the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. But then, what would I know about football rivalries? There’s already sad news for devotees of cheese dip made with an apparently scarce Velveeta (insert joke here, if you like). Mine was made with cheddar melted into sauteed peppers, tomatoes and onions; no jarred Rotelle for us. Children’s author Leo Politi loved it, and we both preferred our sliced baguettes for dipping, toasted only lightly but not until hard.

Leo was our guest when Richard was the manager for the Fresno County and San Joaquin Valley Library systems and we hosted the dedication for a branch library in his name.

Planning for your snack table, devotees of San Joaquin Valley tree nuts will also suffer from the shortage due to the hijacking of those supplies in past months. I don’t know if the economy will reflect a greater impact than when the number one product for rustling was California avocados, even greater than cattle rustling. The Central Coast was hit hard by that in recent years, with Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo celebrations affected everywhere.

Chatting with Charmaine Coimbra some time ago about good things for vegetarians to eat led to her sharing this intriguing dish which I happily did kitchen test for company. The eastern-western fusion ravioli are conveniently prepared with the small ready-made wrappers for Chinese won tons. I had on hand the round Japanese version used for gyoza, so skipped Charmaine’s final prep step.

Walnut Sausage and Ravioli

  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • 1 cup ground bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • Sage and salt, to taste
  • Milk to moisten

According to Charmaine, “Dredging through my clipped and saved recipe file, I found the walnut sausage recipe that my former mother-in-law wrote down on a now-yellowed index card back in 1970. Mix the ingredients until combined, form into patties and fry on a lightly oiled griddle. Serve hot.

“For the ravioli, I use prepared wonton pasta from the grocery store, place about a teaspoon of the sausage mix while it is raw between two wonton pastas, pinch to seal, then use a pasta cutting wheel to cut into round ravioli. Toss into boiling water. Once the pasta floats to the top, remove and place on a plate.

“My sauce is a simple olive oil, lemon juice blend with zested nutmeg and freshly grated Parmesan sprinkled atop the pasta before serving. As you would expect from me, this sauce is made without an ounce of recipe.”

(Cook’s Notes: When preparing the ravioli, I moistened the edges with a little water, pinched well, and allowed the ensuing glue to set while the salted water came to a boil in my deep fry pan. I am not tempted to overstuff them, and I slide them carefully into the water, and then out with a wire spider or slotted spoon so they don’t lose their filling at any point. A little chiffonade of fresh basil adds color and a piquant accent. Other fillings might include sauteed mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc., perhaps with the ravioli simmered in your favorite marinara sauce. For an Asian touch, sprinkle with low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, and thinly sliced spring onions.)

Closing thoughts for this New Year come from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”