Monday, June 6, 2011

Pecorino and Pear Ravioli with Black Pepper and Basil

I just spent a fabulous weekend in Columbia with the lovely Amanda Perry. Between games of Cranium, we did some fabulous cooking (see her post on stuffed zucchini blossoms if you need proof). This recipe is a variant on one Amanda made on Saturday, which was inspired by a meal she had at Felidia in New York City.

The pasta dish with pecorino Romano which I am most familiar with, after many semi-successful and a few actually successful attempts, is spaghetti cacio e pepe, a Roman staple consisting of pasta with a very simple--yet incredibly delicious--combination of freshly ground black pepper, pecorino Romano, olive oil, and some of the pasta's cooking water. I thought that because I was using pecorino in the recipe already, I would try using this sauce on the ravioli. I decided to add basil because I was reminded of a delicious salad of pears, pecorino, and basil I made once last fall from Olives and Oranges, another favorite cookbook. Thinly sliced basil perfectly complements the sweetness of the pears and the saltiness of the cheese.

The filling is pretty simple--pecorino fresco, grated pears, and mascarpone (to hold everything together). If you can't find pecorino fresco, a combination of any soft sheep cheese and a typical aged pecorino will work just fine. Use the best quality ripe pears you can find. However, you don't want them to be too ripe or the filling will be too liquidy.

I'm not going to include a recipe for pasta dough here (unless anyone particularly wants it) because I'm guessing anyone who already has a pasta machine already has a favorite pasta dough recipe. But if you want my input, Jerry Traunfeld's recipe in The Herbfarm Cookbook is one of the best and most reliable.

Pecorino and Pear Ravioli with Black Pepper and Basil

2 ripe pears, cored and grated on a large grater
1 1/2 cups grated pecorino fresco
1/3 cup mascarpone
Pasta dough made from 3 cups of flour
flour for dusting
egg wash, made from 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
salted water for cooking the pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves

For the filling: In a small mixing bowl, stir together the first three ingredients.

For the pasta: Divide the dough into 4 balls, covering the unused pieces with plastic wrap. Roll out the first ball to the second thinnest level on your pasta machine, thoroughly dusting both sides with flour. Try to keep the dough sheet as wide as will fit through the pasta maker. (If you don't fold the ravioli right away, keep the sheets well floured and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over each sheet, then roll it up so that each surface is covered in plastic.) Fill each sheet as soon as you roll it, then continue with the next sheets.

Stuffing the ravioli: Lay the sheet out flat on a work surface, and slice it in half lengthwise. Spoon heaping teaspoons of filling in balls on the bottom dough strip, leaving at least 1 inch between each dab of filling, and making sure to leave space at the top and bottom of the strip. Brush the egg wash along the outside edges of the strip and between each dab of filling (this helps the dough stick together). Take the top strip of dough and lay it on top of the strip with the filling. Trying to avoid air bubbles, press down firmly to seal the dough around the filling. When all edges are sealed, cut the ravioli apart in the middle, lightly flour them, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with all the pasta sheets.

Cooking the ravioli: Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat so that the water is only simmering, then slip in six or seven ravioli one by one. Adjust the heat so the water remains just below a boil. Cook the ravioli for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes--just until the dough is cooked and the filling is hot. Transfer them using a slotted spoon to a plate lines with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining ravioli.

Making the sauce: In a large skillet, gently heat the olive oil. Add the salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add a ladleful of the pasta cooking water and continue to whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy. Toss the ravioli in this sauce.

Serving: Serve the sauced ravioli immediately with a few pieces of basil!

1 comment:

  1. This is a really nice, unusual recipe. It sounds like a wonderful combination of flavors, and I'll definitely give it a try at some point. Thanks for sharing it.