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Cook the Book: Sweet Potato Ravioli in Cheese Broth

"Stuffed pasta is always a treat, especially when it's homemade, but these ravioli are something else."

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

For as long as I've been eating at Frankies Spuntino I've been trying to figure out what makes their Sweet Potato Ravioli in Cheese Broth so incredible. It's the one dish I order without fail, and I've been trying to uncover what sets these ravioli apart, aside from the fact that they use wonton wrappers instead of a more traditional (and labor-intensive) pasta dough.

It was the first recipe I searched for when getting my hands on a copy of The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo. A quick glance at the list of ingredients list gave away the secret ingredient: Chinese five-spice powder.

Incorporating these Asian elements into an otherwise Italian-American menu might seem a bit strange but when you consider that Frank Falcinelli was cooking new American-Asian fare at Moomba before Frankies, it makes a little more sense. And when you taste it, the dish will wipe out any remaining doubts that you might have.

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Using pre-made wonton wrappers takes the pressure off the pasta-maker phobics out there, not to mention cuts the prep time. The wrappers are much more forgiving than fresh pasta dough and for some reason sealed quicker and tighter than any egg-based pasta dough I've ever made, virtually eliminating the fall-apart threat during the cooking process.

The ravioli are finished in cheese broth, a thing of beauty in its own right. The Franks take the hard rinds of the cheeses used in the restaurant and simmer it with water so all the flavors from the otherwise unusable rinds infuse into the cooking water.

A little butter and sage are added to the broth with the ravioli, then topped with julienned scallions. Stuffed pasta is always a treat, especially when it's homemade, but these ravioli are something else. They tread the line between sweet and savory—I could eat about a million of them.

I'm pretty sure I'll be forever indebted to the The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual for turning one of my favorite Frankies' dishes into something I can make all by myself.

Win The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual to give away this week.

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