I decided I wanted to talk about food for a minute, since – you know – this is a food blog and all. I’ll get to Chapter 6 in a few, and I LOVE keeping people in suspense.
But I keep seeing this huge bag of carrots in my fridge every time I open it, and as a result I can’t stop thinking about this ravioli.
I bought the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid, aka best wedding present ever, quite a few months ago. I used it once, and the pasta got all stuck in the roller section, an floury-eggy mess crusting up all over the place. After trying my damndest to clean it, I finally realized that the particular roller I had was a dud, and so I sent that sucker back and days later, a shiny new attachment showed up at my doorstep.
That one sat in the closet for a few months.
But sometime before Christmas, I kept looking at all the carrots in my fridge (I always seem to have a bag-full, thanks be to the CSA shares that are thankfully almost finished!) and I couldn’t stop thinking about a ravioli recipe I’d clipped. I’d bought the semolina flour weeks ago in anticipation of making pasta again and finally, I decided I could wait no more. Plus, I had some ricotta cheese on the verge of ruin, so the ingredients were there waiting for me.
It’s actually a fun little process, this making ravioli thing. But then again, I get all sorts of excited about making things from scratch, so this is no surprise, right? I can’t put my finger on it, but a certain feeling of pride sweeps up inside you when you can start with a few eggs, some flour, and a little salt, and end up with thin, beautiful strands of dough. And when the dough gets cut into the cutest little circles and loaded with a filling that’s probably good enough to eat by the spoonful, it’s definitely enough to make you sit back and grin about it.
Roasted Carrot & Ricotta Ravioli
Adapted from Food & Wine, October 2010; makes 40
time commitment: 1 – 1.5 hours
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (3/4 pound)
1 T olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 t unsalted butter
1 T minced shallot
1 T half and half
5 ounces ricotta cheese (~1/2 c)
6 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon semolina flour, plus more for dusting
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
sauce to serve with (tomato, melted butter/cheese, etc)
special equipment: pasta machine, either hand-cranked or a KitchenAid attachment; 2 1/2″ cookie cutter
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Prepare the dough. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt, nutmeg and the 1 tablespoon of semolina. Add the eggs and pulse until incorporated. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream and process just until moistened crumbs form. Turn the crumbs out onto a semolina-dusted work surface and knead just until a smooth dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, roast the filling: In a baking dish, toss the carrots with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Let cool slightly.
In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes.
In a food processor, combine the carrots, shallot and cream and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta, Parmigiano and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg yolk.
Make the ravioli: Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Work with 1 piece at a time: Flatten the dough into a 5-by-4-inch oval, about 1/2 inch thick. Dust lightly with semolina. Roll the dough through a pasta machine at the widest setting. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter), then run it through the machine at the same setting, folded edge first. Repeat the folding and rolling once more. Roll the dough through at successively narrower settings, two times per setting, until it is thin enough for you to see the outline of your hand through it. Lay the dough out on a work surface lightly dusted with semolina.
Brush any semolina off the dough. On half of the dough, spoon 10 1-teaspoon mounds of filling in two rows of 5, spacing apart by about 2 inches. Cover with the other half of the dough and press down gently to get rid of any air. Using a 2 1/2″ cookie cutter, cut out 10 ravioli. Using the tines of a fork, seal all the way around each circle, and place ravioli on a large rimmed baking sheet lightly dusted with semolina. Repeat with the remaining pasta dough and filling.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook half of the ravioli over high heat until al dente, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a platter. Repeat with the remaining ravioli and serve. (Ravioli, uncooked, can be frozen at least a month in advance. Freeze them individually on a baking sheet, then toss them into a bag together until needed.)
Serve with warmed tomato sauce, or some melted butter & cheese. Or with the sauce of your liking :).