Vegan Ravioli Caprese

September 5, 2023
As all my close friends know, I eat a lot of pasta. It's my main food group, and I probably eat pasta at least every other day, on average. I've had pasta in Venice, Rome, and many different regional cities and towns in Italy, not to mention authentic Italian restaurants in London and New York. So for me to say something is the *best* pasta I've ever eaten in my life, means a lot. This very special Ravioli Caprese is one such life-changing dish. I learned to make it at Villa Zagara, a beautiful estate in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast—where the island of Capri is visible from the shore. The original Caprese dish is made with ricotta cheese filling, which we of course skipped in favor of soaked bread. You wouldn't miss a thing—trust me. A couple of pointers:

1. I think sourcing double zero flour (finely milled according to Italian specs) is worth it. It's the same flour used to make Neapolitan pizzas and other fresh pastas.
2. Don't burn the garlic! Gently coax out flavors of garlic, basil, and tomatoes over lower heat than you'd think. This also yields a ton of luxurious, unctuous sauce, especially with the addition of a splash of water. It's possibly the most important takeaway from the day.
3. This produces a lot of ravioli. You can freeze the ones you don't want to eat right away.
4. You can use the dough to make other kinds of fresh pasta, if you wish.
Without further ado, here's a magical vegan ravioli Caprese!
vegan ravioli caprese on a white plate on a blue table set outdoors

Vegan Ravioli Caprese

Recipe Type: Hearty Entrees
utensils YIELDS 4 servings
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 500 g double zero flour
  • 200 ml boiling water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for the dough)
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 slices bread
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for the pan)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • handful basil, chopped
  • 1 cup sunflower oil (for frying)
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1. Prep the veggies for filling. The secret to eggplant that isn’t bitter is picking a fresh one and peeling it. If you take a perfectly fresh eggplant, you shouldn’t have to salt and sponge off the brown, bitter liquid. So peel and finely dice (1/2″) the eggplant and zucchini. Also seed and dice the bell pepper.

2. Heat sunflower oil in a large stainless steel pan over high flame. When you see bubbles (high temperature), add the diced vegetables using a slotted spoon. After about 3–4 minutes, take them out using the slotted spoon. Drain the excess grease over a dish covered with paper towels. Let cool.

3. Soak slices of bread in water until soft. Wring them out. Add them to the cooling/draining fried vegetables. This will be your filling. Add salt and chopped fresh basil to taste and mix together so that the soaked bread binds the veggie pieces together. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, add the flour, boiling water, and olive oil. Stir together with a wooden spoon. When roughly mixed but still separating, use your hands to knead the mixture into a dough. Carry over to a clean countertop sprinkled with flour. Continue gathering loose bits into the dough and kneading, until it is solid and pliable, about 10 minutes.

5. Separate the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out each part with a rolling pin until you have a flat, thin sheet.

6. Brush a dough sheet with water. Use a teaspoon to drop the fried veggies mixture onto a dough sheet. Keep dropping the filling, about 2 inches apart, until you have covered the whole sheet.

7. Lay another sheet over this sheet with fillings. Use a ravioli cutter to cut around each lump of filling. The trick is to press down and twist the cutter slightly so that the ravioli falls out of the dough instead of sticking to it.

8. Repeat this process with remaining dough sheet and filling.

9. Boil water in a large pot. When hard boiling, add ravioli. They are done when they float to the surface. The actual cooking time will differ (3–5 minutes) according to how thin you roll out your dough. Drain and set aside.

10. Now you’re ready to make the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large pan over a low-medium flame. Add a clove of garlic, roughly sliced or minced. Let simmer until lightly toasted over a low heat until the garlic has a slightly tanned color—a little over 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn it.

11. Add chopped fresh basil and halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt. Cook over low-medium flame, tossing lightly. Add a splash of water to create a sauce. When tomatoes look cooked, take off the heat and add the boiled ravioli. Stir gently to combine.

12. Garnish with more fresh basil leaves and serve.



Photo: Peaceful Dumpling

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Peaceful Dumpling is used for articles written by staff writers and freelance contributors who wish to remain unidentified.


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