Thursday 14 May 2009

Recipe: Ravioli stuffed with Asparagus

In fact, this is something of a catch-all recipe: the quantity of asparagus in the stuffing can be replaced by pretty much any green vegetable or herb, depending upon preference or on whatever you happen to have to hand (spinach, parsley, fava beans, chervil....whatever). If not using asparagus, then the final dressing should be just melted butter, along with grated parmesan and ground black pepper.

Any leftover stuffing can be used subsequently as a filling in savoury pancakes. Last week, a couple of days after having served these ravioli as a starter for dinner, I made a batch of crespelle and filled them with a combination of asparagus stuffing, chopped spinach which had been cooked with a little grated lemon peel, and some finely chopped fennel, which had been previously stewed gently in white wine (all of them lefteover vegetable dishes from earlier dinners). The crespelle were filled, rolled, and heated for twenty minutes or so in a 180 degree oven,and then served with a light cream and parmesan sauce. Delicious!

For Four.

Ingredients: Pasta dough, made using 2 cups of '00' Flour, 3 Eggs, a generous pinch of Salt, and a tsp of Olive Oil; a 'standard' bunch of Asparagus (approx 20 pieces); 250g Ricotta; 1 Egg; 20g grated Parmesan; large pinch of Nutmeg; seasoning to taste; 2 oz Butter; 1 clove Garlic.


1. Make the pasta dough and leave to rest.

2. Trim the Asparagus stems of any 'woody' ends, and cook in boiling salted water until done (approx six minutes, but I always go by the smell - as soon as it's ready, the aroma of Asparagus rises headily from the pan).

3. Chop half of the cooked Asparagus into half centimetre lengths and reserve.

4. Process the remainderof the Asparagus along with all remaining ingredients except for the Butter and Garlic, and leave this mixture to firm up for at least an hour.

5. Roll out the pasta as normal, and make the ravioli, using a teaspoonful of stuffing for the centre of each piece. (NB: When making ravioli, it's important to use each sheet of pasta as you roll it, and finish using it to make the ravioli before proceeding to roll out the next piece of pasta;ifyou wait to form the ravioli until all of the pasta sheets have been rolled, then you'll have problems!)

6. Bring a large pan of water to boil, add salt, and cook the ravioli just until they come to the surface of the water (they can be fragile, so handle them carefully when removing them from the water - I generally use a slotted spoon, and drain them briefly on a towel before plating them) .

7. While the water is coming to the boil, melt the Butter and sauté the minced Garlic briefly; toss the reserved chopped Asparagus pieces in this, and use this mixture to dress the ravioli. Always serve in heated bowls!