Guest Post: Hungry Games: Raffetto’s: A New York City Gem

Hello Hungry Games. 

I used to live in Manhattan with my older sister and BFF, Dubs.  When I visit, I always stay with her and her fiancé, Jumbo, on the pullout couch in their 500 square-foot, one-bedroom apartment (three people + Piglet the cat = cramped).  At least, it has an amazing view that makes it feel bigger.

Jumbo loves to have me as a houseguest, since I go to bed 3 hours before he does (so he has to turn off the TV); I eat his leftover Chinese food, leaving a small portion in the container (too much to throw away, but not enough for a meal); and I change the channel when he’s watching sports because I prefer The Food Network or reruns of Gilmore Girls.  Since he so lovingly puts up with my BS, I like to show my appreciation by cooking dinner whenever I visit (Plus, there’s a bit of adventure in trying to cook in a New York City kitchen.  I think most people use them as extra closet space.)

During my most recent stay, I thought I’d do something special and pick up homemade pasta from one of the best Italian markets in the city, Raffetto’s (144 West Houston Street).

I love this family-owned specialty store because they make their pasta right in front of you (with flavors like chestnut and saffron), they sell delicious sauces (at least 13 varieties), and their uniquely flavored ravioli is altogether mouthwatering. The store is cash only, and I usually want to buy everything.

I decided to prepare a very simple meal that made me look like a kitchen rockstar:  Raffetto’s Wild Mushroom ravioli with a sauce of butter, olive oil, mushroom, onion, garlic and thyme. To accompany the dish, I roasted some garlic bread, and Dubs made a simple garden salad.

Raffetto’s ravioli always delivers.  Your dinner guests will think you’ve spent hours doing magical things in the kitchen, but it really just requires the ability to boil water.

Here’s how you can recreate the same meal.  For the pasta and garlic bread, you will need:

  • 1 box of Raffetto’s Wild Mushroom ravioli (you can use any kind of fresh ravioli with mushrooms or cheese filling—Trader Joe’s sells some good ones too).
  • 5-6 Baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion
  • Garlic (number of cloves depends on how much you like garlic)
  • Stick of butter
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh thyme (or not—the thyme was an experiment.  I’ve never actually cooked with it before, and I didn’t really notice a difference, so next time I’ll probably skip it.)
  • Fresh baguette

For the salad, Dubs tossed together some spring mix, grape tomatoes, diced red onion, walnuts (a great complement to the mushrooms) and balsamic vinaigrette.

To make the garlic bread, cut the baguette in half, long-wise.  Dice up some garlic (or use a garlic press—unfortunately for me, Dubs and Jumbo don’t own one) and mix it into about half a stick of mashed up butter.  Add some cracked pepper and oregano.  Then spread the mixture on both halves of the baguette, put it on a cookie sheet, and bake it at 350° for about 10 minutes, until the edges are browned.  Put it in the oven right before you put the pasta on, so that all the food is ready at the same time.  Then let it cool a second before you slice it up to serve.

For the pasta, boil a pot of salted water.  Dice up a few cloves of garlic, about half an onion, and slice up 5-6 mushrooms. Heat up a quarter stick of butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet (This is not an exact science.  I don’t think there’s a perfect butter to oil ratio.  It will taste good no matter what you do.)  Add the veggies to the skillet to sauté.  The proper order would be garlic first, then onions, then mushrooms.  I just added the thyme with the mushrooms.

Tear apart the ravioli squares so that they are ready to go when the water starts to boil.  Cook according to the instructions on the box (6-8 minutes).  Dump the ravioli into a colander to drain the water.  Spoon about half the sauce into the ravioli pot, add the drained raviolis back into the pot, and pour the rest of the sauce on top.  Gently stir (The ravioli noodles seem delicate, so I was careful with my stirring).

Plate, serve, and enjoy!  I served this with a delicious bottle of Italian white wine, recommended by the man at the local wine shop.

The dinner was a success, and I think Jumbo will allow me to stay on their couch at least one more time.

Dubs and Jumbo, congratulations on tonight’s nuptials!  I love you both. ~HG

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