Monday, August 02, 2010

Gorgeous mushroom ravioli

Despite getting out and about a whole lot lately, I've been feeling under the weather.  But on Sunday, the first day of my birthday month (I have no shame... I discovered the fun of birthday parties a few years back and decided to stretch out the event as long as possible), I decided to rally and make some dinner for Mr. Rose and a friend who lives down the street.  We shall call her Nicknamer, or Nick for short, for the fact that she has more nicknames for her dog than anyone I know.  Nick is a vegetarian so the sausage and ricotta ravioli I'd originally had in mind were out of the question.  So mushrooms, the only vegetable matter that comes close to pork in my mind, would have to suffice.
Mushroom ravioli is far easier than it sounds.  It's almost mindless, which is good when I'm feeling under the weather and have less than 100% of my wits about me.  But it requires a little bit of labor, which is great when I'm not otherwise motivated to do anything but cook and need an excuse to stay indoors.

The mushroom filling was a mixture of porcini, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms, sauteed with minced shallots, and mixed with ricotta and finely grated parmesan cheeses.  A generous pinch of truffle salt put the mixture over the edge to mushroomy goodness.
I rolled out a dough consisting of semolina flour, unbleached white flour, eggs, extra virgin olive oil, a splash of water, and a healthy pinch of sea salt.  And when it got really thin, I placed parsley leaves between two sheets and rolled them out again.  A dollop of mushroom mixture on each parsley leaf, an egg wash around each dollop of mushroom, and a second layer of pasta was laid over like a blanket.  The ravioli was cut and pinched shut so that they were air tight.
Some of these pillows of mushroomy pillows were pan-fried (a brilliant idea from Nick).  The rest were to boiled and tossed in a quick sauce made of minced shallots, garlic, abominable carrots, tomatoes, and herbs from the garden.
While waiting for the water to boil, I went back to the garden to pick up a few things -- cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, basil and mint.  Nick chopped up the veggies like a champ.  Add a little fresh lemon juice, olive oil, cracked pepper and red alaea volcanic salt, and voila!  Although I can mix a pretty awesome salad, I must admit that a good bit of the magic came from the vegetables having been freshly picked out of my garden (tip of the hat to Mr. Rose).
I don't always keep track of quantities, but I did this time, so here are a few rough recipes.

Mushroom Ravioli (serves 4)
Mushroom mixture:
1 lb mixed mushrooms (I used cremini and shiitake), brushed and finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/3 c. drained ricotta (recipe for homemade ricotta shall come on another day -- you'll have to make do with store-bought stuff for now!)
1/3 c. finely grated parmesan
1 pinch white truffle salt
1 1/2 c. semolina flour
1 1/2 c. unbleached white flour
1 pinch fine sea salt
3 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
flat-leaf parsley leaves with stems removed (optional)

In a small bowl, soak the porcini in 1/2 cup of boiling water and set aside.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat.  Saute the shallots until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the chopped mushrooms and stir frequently to let the liquids evaporate.  Drain the porcini mushrooms, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid.  Chop the porcini mushrooms and add to the skillet.  When all the liquids have evaporated from the mushrooms, add the 1/4 cup of reserved mushroom liquid and stir until all liquids have been evaporated.  Transfer the mushrooms to a medium bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes.  Add ricotta, parmesan, and truffle salt and stir.  Set mixture aside.

Mix semolina and unbleached flours until well incorporated.  Dump onto work surface and create a mound.  In a small bowl, lightly beat 3 eggs, oil and salt.  Add 1 tbsp water and mix well.  In the mound of flour, poke a hole in the top so that it resembles a volcano.  Slowly pour 1/3 of the egg mixture into the mound.  With one hand, work the egg mixture into the flour around it, while using the other hand to maintain the walls of the "volcano."  Add the egg mixture 1/3 at a time and repeat.  Eventually, the flour will come together into a cohesive dough that is tough, but elastic, and slightly tacky to the touch.  Fold it into a rough ball and set it aside on the work surface and cover with a heavy bowl.  Let it sit for at least 20-30 minutes, or wrap in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until you are ready to work with it.

When you're ready to work with the dough, roll it out and fold it over itself a few times.  Cut the dough into quarters so that it's a manageable size to work with.  While working one with one quarter, stow the other pieces under the heavy bowl so they don't dry out.  Roll the dough out, thinner and thinner, dusting with flour as necessary so that it doesn't stick to your work surface.  When it gets as thin as you can make it, place parsley leaves (stems will poke through the pasta so be sure to make sure they are completely removed) on one half of the dough.  I spaced them 3-4" apart.  Fold the other half of the dough over the parsley leaves and roll over it to ensure that the dough sticks.  Roll to the desired thickness.  Each sheet of pasta should be covered with plastic wrap so that it doesn't dry out before you marry it with another sheet of pasta.  That's right, I said marrying sheets of pasta.

Lightly beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and lightly baste one side of the sheet of pasta you're working with.  Over each parsley leaf, put a heaping teaspoon of the mushroom mixture.  When you've got one whole sheet of pasta peppered with lumps of mushroom mixture, gently lay another sheet of pasta over it.  Press the top sheet over the bottom sheet, being careful not to squeeze the lumps of mushroom -- work around the mushroom mixture.  Cut out the married sheets of pasta and crimp around the mushroom mixture, being sure to squeeze out any air bubbles before the two sides become completely crimped together.  I experimented with a circular cup to make round raviolis and a pizza cutter to make square raviolis.  I found the square ones easier to make.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil and drop the raviolis in.  One or two minutes after they float to the surface, they can be pulled out with a slotted spoon, and transferred to a sauce.

Easy Garden Sauce
2 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled and diced.
1 medium shallot, finely
1 abominable carrot, or one small carrot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
10 leaves basil, chiffonade
2 sprigs thyme, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp heavy cream

Heat oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Saute shallot and garlic till shallots turn translucent.  Add diced carrot and cook till tender.  Add tomatoes, then herbs.  Let simmer for 10 minutes, then finish with cream.


  1. Mamma mia - how I do miss the speakeasy kitchen from the days of d.c. rowhouses

  2. if i could get laissez-foure back into the speakeasy kitchen, i would do it in a heartbeat -- i even have the perfect spot set for you guys in the current location!

  3. Mmmmmm...I absolutely LOVE home made ravioli! Isn't it great being able to "shop" in your garden?! These look fabulous!

  4. My husbands family makes ravioli from scratch every year for Christmas, about 1500 of them, with a variety of fillings. It's a great tradition and everyone gets involved, and they taste incredible every year. I will suggest this filling next time, sounds great!

  5. We love mushrooms here and ravioli also so I must give this a try. I'm new here and will enjoy following your great blog! Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Pam, if you think you REALLY love mushrooms, check out my blog archive for the June 2010 and March 2008 entries on growing mushrooms!


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