Sunday, February 5, 2012

Baked Broccoli Rabe Ravioli

Pasta making may seem like a daunting task, but, it's not that hard, really. Actually, it's quite fun and rewarding to roll out your own pasta. I recently purchased the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, which makes the process a breeze. Before that, I used a hand crank pasta machine. The hand crank pasta machine takes a little more coordination. You almost need a third hand -- the first to pass the dough, the second to crank the machine, and the third to catch it on the other end. Nonetheless, with a little practice (and patience) you'll get a rhythm down. And in the end, you'll have delicate, tender pasta that vastly exceeds your average dried, store-bought variety.

I came across this interesting preparation for making ravioli -- you boil the pasta sheets, stuff them, and then bake them in the oven until crispy around the edges -- rather rustic in appearance. You can stuff them with just about anything you like. I stuffed this batch with a mixture of broccoli rabe (aka rapini), fresh ricotta, and pecorino cheese. If you've never had broccoli rabe, it has a bit of a bite and is more bitter than broccoli, which it resembles (even though broccoli rabe is more closely related to the turnip than broccoli per se). Cooking helps to tame the bitterness. Lastly, I topped the ravioli with a little basil oil, which adds a light, refreshing touch, and garnished with a few toasted pinenuts.

The filling is skewed in favor of the greens as opposed to the cheese (although there's still enough cheese in there to make its presence known).

Baked Broccoli Rabe Ravioli
Adapted from Food and Wine
1 cup packed basil leaves

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe (aka rapini), cut into 2-inch florets

Red pepper flakes to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup fresh ricotta

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving

1/2 pound fresh lasagna sheets,
cut into 4 by 4 inch squares (recipe below)
Pine nuts, toasted (optional)

Blanch the basil in boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water; squeeze dry. In a food processor, puree the basil with 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Season with salt and transfer to a small bowl.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli rabe, 1/2 cup of water, red pepper flakes, and butter, cover and cook over moderately low heat until tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely puree the broccoli in a food processor; transfer to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta and 1/4 cup of the pecorino and season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta squares in the water until tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (I cooked in batches). Drain, pat dry and rub with a little oil to prevent sticking.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a large, shallow baking dish with oil. Place two heaping tablespoons of the filling into the center of each pasta square. Fold the squares into triangles and arrange in the dish in a single layer. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the Pecorino. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown. Drizzle with the basil oil. Top with toasted pine nuts.

Home Made Pasta
9 ounces/255 grams flour (used 6 ounces/170 grams 00 flour and 3 ounces/85 grams white-wheat; can use all-purpose flour)
3 eggs, room temperature

Combine the flour and eggs in a bowl and mix with a fork (or your fingers) to combine. When the dough comes together, knead on a floured work surface, pressing with the heel of your hand, folding it over, until smooth, 5 to 10 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes. Cut the dough into four pieces. Roll the dough through the pasta roller, continually passing the dough through the machine until desired thickness (rolled to setting 6 on my pasta roller). 

I rolled out the pasta a day in advance, dusted them with semolina flour to prevent the sheets from sticking together into one big clump, cut them into squares, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and then refrigerated them over night. The great thing about homemade pasta is that it is so fresh, it takes literally minutes to cook.

Oh, and don't toss the scraps of dough. They make great noodles, albeit a little misshapen, but flavorful nonetheless.

Michael Ruhlman has a nice post on homemade pasta. I used his ratio, but substituted 1/3 white-wheat flour into the mix. Might play around with adding a little more next time or even experimenting with some other types of flours--spelt, amaranth...some fresh herbs mixed into the dough would be nice too. 

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