Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Carrot Ravioli With Roasted Tomato Sauce

The boys insist this is the best ravioli I've made-so who am I to argue? Little do they realise, I cobbled it together from odds and ends in the kitchen (a cup of cottage cheese, the ends of hard cheese, some overripe tomatoes). I had enough filling for a triple batch-I ended up with close to four dozen ravioli, which I froze for quick dinners at another time. While the filling recipe can be halved, or doubled easily, I wouldn't do that with the pasta. make two separate batches as you will have better control over the dough. Or use the filling for something else-crepes, blintzes, a noodle casserole, lasagna filling-it is certainly versatile, and freezes amazingly well.

For The Sauce:

1 dozen Roma tomatoes, halved-seeds removed
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Olive oil for drizzling
3 cloves garlic, smashed

In a large casserole dish, arrange the tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, Salt/Pepper. Drizzle with olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons). Toss in the garlic and roast, uncovered for several hours (mine went 4) at 225 degrees F. Give it the occasional stir. if it cooks too quickly, reduce heat to 200 degrees F. When tomatoes have collapsed and garlic is soft enough to smash with a wooden spoon, remove from oven and cool slightly. Put everything except the bay leaves through a food mill. You don't want to use a food processor as it will grind up the rosemary and tomato skins-a food mill will keep that out. When you have extracted all you can, return liquid to a saucepan and reduce by 1/3. If using right away, enrich it by whisking in a few tablespoons of heavy cream. If not, do this when you reheat the sauce. You may of course skip this step, but the sauce will be quite thin.

For The Pasta Dough:

3 large egg yolks plus 1 whole egg (save the egg whites for the filling)
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1-1 1/2 cups (or more) semolina or other pasta flour (for ravioli I wouldn't recommend using part AP flour as you want something strong enough to hold a filling).
Extra flour for dusting

Beat the egg yolks until light. Beat in water and salt. Add the flour by hand until you have a stiff dough. Roll into a ball, cover in cling film and let rest 30 minutes before rolling out and filling.

For The Carrot Filling (this can be made several hours ahead and kept chilled)

6-8 medium carrots, peeled, chopped and boiled until soft enough to put through a food mill.
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese 4% milkfat (the light cottage cheese will separate some, but you can use extra egg whites to bind it)
1/2 cup hard cheese, finely grated (I had the ends of some domestic Parmesan)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Pinch of sugar

Put the cooked carrots through a food mill and chill before proceeding. Drain the cottage cheese through a fine mesh while the carrots cool. Discard liquid, then force through sieve with a wooden spoon. It should be quite fluffy. Combine cottage cheese, carrots, hard cheese, egg whites and seasonings. Mix well. This can be made several hours ahead. Any leftover egg whites should be saved for sealing the ravioli edges.

Put It All Together Already!

Yeah, OK fine. Roll out your dough as thin as you can, or use a pasta making machine. You need to leave enough room around the filling to seal the ravioli, so plan accordingly. I used a round biscuit cutter to get the shapes uniform, but you can of course hand-cut squares with a knife. A star-shaped cookie cutter might be fun.

Once you have the filling dabbed out, roll another piece of dough for the top layer. Lightly brush around the filling with egg whites, then carefully place the top layer on. Here's the tricky part-you need to pinch out (gently) the air around the filling or it will explode in the pot. Start at one end of the row, and slowly move from each ravioli to the end. When you are satisfied that you have filled your ravioli with carrots, rather than air, cut the pieces. If you're really skilled, the sides will stay shut, but if you're less confident, carefully crimp the edges with a fork. At this point, place them on a rack over a baking sheet and transfer to the fridge until you are ready to cook. If you are freezing some, place them on a wax paper lined tray in the freezer until firm, then transfer to freezer bags with wax paper between layers. Freeze flat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add the ravioli slowly, a few at a time. You don't want them to boil so hard they burst, so keep an eye on it-a gentle boil is better for ravioli. Fresh pasta does not take but a few minutes, though you want the filling to heat through. Mine went about 5 minutes. Rather than dumping into a colander to drain, remove them with a slotted spoon to a lightly oiled baking sheet. This will prevent them sticking together. Serve with sauce and a bit of grated hard cheese.

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