Wednesday, 17 February 2010

White Bean Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter

This week we are cooking from one of my favourite TV chefs (okay, stop trying to count favourites, I know I have a lot) Mario Batali. I don't know if he has a show on currently in the States, but in Canada he is only on Iron Chef America. That is a shame, I miss Molto Mario and the map that came down to show what part of the boot the featured meal came from.
I do have a couple of his books, and some of his recipes can be rather daunting. This ravioli one isn't difficult in itself, but you do need time. Lots of time.

Homemade pasta is a labour of love, but when you do make it it is so wonderful. I won't ever give up buying dried, but there really is no comparison.
If you break the recipe into segments, it is much easier. Plan it out. Soak the beans the night before, make the filling early. Do your pasta in the afternoon, let it rest, and roll and shape. Make sure you have a good album or television show on as the shaping takes some time. Yeah, I said album.
The shaped ravioli are fine to hang out in the fridge for a bit while you recover with a glass of wine.
When your friends or family are soon to arrive, you can make the salad and sauce and fire up the pasta pot. There, was that so hard?
There is nothing in this world more delicious than brown butter. I have been known to lick my plate. And other people's plates.

ps, in case you were wondering why mine are so perfectly shaped - I have a ravioli press like this one below. Norpro. And yes, they do have it at Amazon. I don't think it makes the process any easier or shorter, but you do get perfectly shaped ravioli with it. I use my KitchenAid pasta roller set to make the noodles.

Basic Pasta Dough
Mario Batali - Simple Italian Food

3.5-4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs
½ tsp extra virgin olive oil

Mound 3.5 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well.
As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. Do not worry that this initial phase looks messy. The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover crusty bits.
Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Roll or shape as desired.

(Pasta, like bread, is made by feel. It should be firm and smooth and leathery - you may have to make adjustments to get it that way)

White Bean Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter
Mario Batali - Simple Italian Food
Serves 6


2 cups cooked white beans
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil*
1 egg
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 recipe basic pasta dough
¾ cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley.

Make the filling. Set aside 1 cup of the cooked white beans. Combine the remaining filling ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the purée to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the reserved white beans. Season to taste.

Divide the pasta dough into 4 equal portions and roll each in a pasta machine on the thinnest setting. Lay out 1 sheet of pasta and cut into 8 pieces 3.5 inches square. Place 1/5 tbsp of filling in the centre of each square and fold in half diagonally to form a triangle. Press firmly around the edges to seal. Continue with the remaining pasta and filling; you should have 32 ravioli. These can be set aside on a baking tray, the layers separated by a dish towel, in the refrigerator for 6 hours.

Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil and add about 2 tbsp salt.

Drop the ravioli into the water and cook just below boiling for 3 minutes.

Place the butter in a 10-12 inch sauté pan and heat until the foam subsides and the butter begins to brown. Turn off the heat and add the balsamic vinegar (careful – it will spatter).

Remove the ravioli from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon or strainer and add to the pan with the butter and vinegar. Toss over medium heat and sprinkle with the grated cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

Of course, you will want a salad to go with your pasta, why not a Mario one? This one is fresh and fruity and light. An intriguing mix of flavours and a good contrast to the ravioli.

Shaved Fennel with Blood Oranges, Pomegranate, and Pecorino
Mario Batali

2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 large blood oranges, peeled and segmented
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
6 oz piece of hard pecorino cheese (I used Parm.)

Use a mandolin or a sharp knife to slice the fennel as thin as possible. Place the fennel slices in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Add the blood orange segments and pomegranate seeds, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss gently to mix.
Arrange the fennel salad on 4 individual plates. Shave the pecorino in long shards over the top of each plate and serve.

White Bean Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter with a salad of Shaved Fennel with Blood Oranges, Pomegranate, and Pecorino for the Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge.