Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lover's. Leap.

For the last 2 weeks all I have been thinking about is ravioli.  Ever since Suzy and I went on the grand Gonzo adventure, I have been itching to sit aside some time to get on in there and stuff some pasta.  I gotta tell you, this pasta attachment is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.  I feel like a new person. A new Italian person.  As a newfound Italian, I set out searching for the perfect ricotta stuffed ravioli and what the flip, I couldn’t find it. I found lots of spinach versions, lots of just plain old spinach and ricotta, and that was not going to do it.  I wasn’t about to slave over Suzy making fresh pasta, and just put ricotta and spinach in it.  It had to be special.  So instead of acting like a virgin on her 24th date, I threw caution to the wind and put the books away. Sorr, Martha. I know I betrayed you, but bia, you are not Italian. Since I have obviously converted to Italianism, I think that makes ME the pasta maven and not you. (I didn’t mean it, Martha. I love you.)
So I strutted down to Pastoral Artisan to get myself some worthy cheese and what do you know, they don’t have ricotta.  Please tell me how a store devoted to cheese doesn’t have ricotta?!! Blasphemy. Anyway I spent a cool babillion dollars there anyway buying other fabulous cheeses, and since it’s one of my 4 food groups I had to stock up.  (No worries, I found ricotta somewhere else, but I’m sure if Pastoral had it, it would have been better…) So, I don’t know about you, but spinach… it doesn’t… blow my whistle.  I will eat it if it’s in front of me, but I don’t dream of spinach.  Kale, on the other hand, I can get down with.  It’s got more substance, it doesn’t leave a bitter taste in my mouth, and it’s a more malleable flavor.  So Kale Ricotta Ravioli it was.  And boy, was it Good.
Disclaimer: This recipe made way more filling than dough.  The smart cook would double the pasta recipe, use all of the filling and freeze half of the raviolis.  I am not the smart cook, so I have kale ricotta filling for random use.
Pasta Dough
2 cups all purpose flour (or “00” flour if  you can find it)
4 eggs
Pinch of Salt

Kale Ricotta Filling

1 large bunch of kale (probably 10 stalks, you want the quantity to be half kale, half ricotta when mixed.)
1 pound of ricotta
¼ cup of Parmesan (the good stuff here, kids)
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt, pepper
½ onion
2 cloves garlic

Zippy Tomato Sauce (a variation of the standard)
1cans of diced or whole stewed ORGANIC tomatoes.
1 can of ORGANIC tomato sauce. 
1 large shallot
1 sweet onion
3 cloves of garlic.
½ teaspoon Paprika
1 tablespoon Dried oregano, basil, thyme mixed
1 ½ teaspoons Garlic salt

First I made the pasta, using the same pasta recipe as last time that good ole Martha told me.  I also followed the same steps for rolling out the dough as previously mentioned here.  Instead of running the pasta through the cutter, just lay the sheet out onto a floured surface and cover with a clean kitchen towel. 

While the pasta dough was resting, before I rolled it all out, I made the filling for our Kale Ricotta Ravioli. First I sautéed the half onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter for 3 minutes, then added the chopped Kale.  Let that cook down until it has wilted to half the size, and then food process until finely chopped.  Mix the chopped kale onion garlic mixture with the ricotta, parmesan, and egg until well incorporated. Then season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. 

Before you start to assemble your ravioli, get the sauce moving, via the same process listed here. Roll out the pasta into like sized sheets, and work on a floured surface.  Put tablespoon sized amounts of the ricotta mixture spaced evenly on the pasta sheet.  Cover with another pasta sheet, working your way from one side to the other, making sure to allow enough room on the top sheet in between the raviolis.  Firmly press around the sides of the mixture, releasing any air and sealing the two pasta sheets.  Either use a pizza cutter, a tufted edge ravioli cutter or a ravioli stamp to cut out the ravioli.  (you can also use a sharp knife)  Make sure your water is well salted and boiling before cooking the ravioli.  Once the ravioli rise to the surface of the water, they are done.  Coat in zippy pasta sauce and plate!

God Bless Italy.  Now you will notice that our lovely tablescape features a wine glass from “Lover’s Leap”.

(errr, maybe you won't, since that picture is zoomed out...)
Boy was that a fun trip.  On our way back from visiting family in Kentucky, we like to stop at distilleries because by the end of those trips, usually we need a stiff one.  This time, we found a vineyard.  Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t recognize Kentucky as a fertile grape fostering area. Well I was wrong I guess because smack in the middle of nowhere America was this awesome Lovers Leap.  You know me, with a name like that, I gotta try it. So off we go to lovers leap, possibly the worst vineyard in the world.  The wine was just shy of vinegar, and there was not a soul in the place.  We got a personal tour of all 10 feet of their aging and bottling room.  We left with a terrible bottle of wine and 2 wine glasses with the lovers leap logo.  I never use these, but all of our glasses were dirty and when I saw them in the cubbard, I had to laugh and pull them out. 

 Oh Lovers Leap, you special place, you.  I mean, who got together in Kentucky and decided, “Hey ya’ll, lets make a vineyard out here, and it’ll be fur lovers... you know, like a lovers leap, all romantic like.”

That was truly the parmesan on our dinner last night. Overall for a Tuesday night, handmade fresh ravioli, ain’t so bad ya’ll.

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