Philacatessen | Dinner in Five Minutes

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OK, it’s not exactly five minutes: It’s five minutes from the time your water boils. But it’s pretty darn quick for a full-scale delicious meal. And yes, it is yet another wonderful treat from my Sunday farmers market.

Like most farmers markets these days, ours has expanded well beyond produce; we have cheese, fish, meat, bread, ice cream, flowers, coffee, chocolate, jarred specialties and, my recent discovery, fresh pasta.

The vendor, Vera Pasta, is headquartered in West Chester, but sells out of numerous area farmers markets and retail establishments. Last week, their lemon pepper asparagus cheese ravioli caught my eye.


The preparation below would work with any stuffed pasta for a simple and delicious meal — cheese tortellini, meat or vegetable ravioli, etc. The fact that it uses some of the basil bursting out of my garden is a bonus, and if you don’t have basil on hand, parsley would work just fine.

The fact that this cooks so quickly is wonderful for this time of year. You won’t heat up the kitchen much, and the dish is light yet satiating. It is also easy to double or triple; just multiply the ingredients accordingly and use larger pans.

Five-Minute Heaven

1 pound good-quality stuffed pasta

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 generous pinch salt

Several generous turns of the pepper grinder; the dish should be speckled

6 basil leaves, rinsed, dried, and sliced thinly into ribbons

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

While the water heats, melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a large skillet. Add the salt and pepper.

Boil the ravioli for about three minutes (or according to package directions until just al dente). Reserve ⅓ cup cooking water.

Drain the ravioli well and pour it into a skillet. Stir to coat with the butter/oil. Add a bit of the pasta cooking water to ensure all the pasta is coated. Add the basil and cheese, and stir, adding a bit more water as needed to loosen the sauce a bit. Serve immediately.

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