on ravioli

Look what I got for Christmas!

Does that not seem exciting to you? It does to me. I was giddy as all get out when I pulled this out of my stocking on Christmas morning. Because don’t you see what this means? This means fresh pasta with squiggly edges!

So I got to work making fresh pasta dishes. I started with ravioli; these look infinitely better than the ones I made before, the Incredible Expando-Ravioli, although these were smaller and the filling was more firm.

I adapted a Jamie Oliver recipe from his Jamie’s Kitchen book. But before I get to that, I want to talk about the pasta itself.

I decided to use the fresh pasta dough recipe from the French Laundry book. I normally never use that many eggs or yokes, and am not used to working with a dough that is so supple and delicate – because it is more delicate to work with than the recipes I’ve used before. I had to be careful to not smoosh the dough too thinly; I did screw up the first bit I pushed through the pasta rollers, making the sheet too thin. It ripped and became too soft to work with. Having said that, the finished product was divine, so it was well worth all my fumbling around. and the fumbling around is what makes experimenting in the kitchen so much fun, isn't it?

And I learned a lesson. For a novice ravioli maker like me, patience is key. I can’t rush what I’m doing or I’ll screw up. Which basically means: don’t start making ravioli on an empty stomach. Since I didn’t know what I was doing, it took me three times as long to make as I thought it would, and there were a couple of times where I wanted to give up and just go make a sandwich instead. But I am no quitter. I persevered, and was rewarded with really delicious pasta.

A confession: I love frozen Mrs T’s potato pierogies. There is something about the taste of the potato and onion together which makes me happy, and I’ve no idea why because I didn’t grow up eating pierogies. I’m sure the Mrs T ones aren’t anything like the real eastern European deals especially since their pierogi dough is kind of tough. This particular recipe excited me because I found the flavor I so love and just made it better with the use of the really decadent pasta dough.

Ravioli of roasted red onions, thyme, pinenuts, and potato
Adapted from Jamie’s Kitchen by Jamie Oliver

The recipe says this serves four, but I only made enough ravioli for one – I still have a large Tupperware container in the fridge full of filling that I’ll need to make sometime this week. Since the filling is cooked, and it’s mostly potato, this can keep for several days in the fridge until you feel like filling your pasta.

For the dough and filling:
1 recipe pasta dough
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
1 small handful of fresh thyme leaves
12 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
14 oz of Yukon or russet potatoes (about 4 small ones)
3 tablespoons of butter
¼ cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper

For the sauce (if you want to call it that):
¼ cup pinenuts (I buy in bulk and keep em in the freezer wrapped up really well)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Make pasta dough and let rest while you prepare the filling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put onions, thyme, and balsamic vinegar in a small roasting pan or dish, and toss together with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (no need to measure, just pour for a second or two). Cover with a piece of wax paper or parchment. Prick potatoes with a fork and put those on another pan. Place both pans in the oven and cook until you can run a fork through the potatoes easily (about 40 minutes or so). Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Pass warm potatoes through a ricer into a big bowl. Dice the onions and add those to the bowl of potatoes. Add any of their cooking liquid out of the roasting pan if it didn’t evaporate. Add the butter, the parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well. Set aside and get a large pot of water on to boil.

Roll the dough into marble-sized balls (they’ll seem smallish); you’ll need about a teaspoon or so of filling per ball. I made square-ish raviolis, but you can make circular ones if you’d like. For squarish ones, work with one pasta sheet at a time, which means roll out one piece of dough at a time or your dough will dry out; keep your other dough pieces under wrap. Lay a sheet of pasta on a well-floured surface and using a pastry brush, lightly brush the sheet with water. Starting from one end of the sheet, place a filling ball along the bottom edge (but not too close to the bottom). Repeat this process with other filling balls, keeping them about 1 ½ to 2 inches from each other. Fold the dough lengthwise over the filling, pressing the sides together over the dough. You want to firmly press around each filling ball, ridding each of all air. Since this filling isn’t delicate, like that egg yolk one I made the last time, you can be firm with the pressing. Using your fancy-edged pasta cutter (or a knife if you don’t have one of those doohickeys), cut each ravioli out into squares. Remove each very delicately from your work surface and put onto a floured baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel while you finish rolling out and making the rest of your raviolis.

When your water is boiling, add to it a good handful of kosher salt. When it comes back to the boil, start cooking your ravioli for only a couple of minutes. If you’re doing this in batches, remove the ravioli carefully from the water and set aside while you cook the rest. Meanwhile, get a hot sauté pan going with a tablespoon or so of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss in the pinenuts and KEEP AN EYE ON THEM or they will burn and taste like ass. Trust me on this. The minute the nuts turn goldeny, turn the heat down (or off if you want) and add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Add the cooked ravioli to this, toss around gently, and serve with some parmesan grated on top.

Happy New Year to you all! If you are a resolutions- maker (which I’m not – I view them as an obligation I’ve made to the Devil, and I can never keep up my end of the bargain), I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. See you all next year in the blogosphere.


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