Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ravioli Adventure

As I was in the middle of this, I texted a friend, "Fuck this shit.  I'm calling Chef Boyardee."  But then... the feeling of accomplishment and the deliciousness that followed were actually pretty great.

And anyway, this is a dish of components.  You can make the filling and the sauce well in advance; hell. you can even freeze and thaw them multiple times, as I did with this ground cauliflower-walnut meat.  The timing actually worked out really well: first, I made the filling; then, while the filling was cooling, I made the pasta dough; while the dough was sitting, I started the sauce; while the sauce was simmering, I started rolling out the pasta, then cutting it into shapes and making the raviolis; while one bunch of raviolis were simmering on the stove, I was putting together the next bunch.

So the sauce was pretty basic: olive oil, onion, garlic, salt, canned tomatoes with chilies, basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, cayenne, sugar.  What follows is 1) the filling and 2) the pasta dough/method.

For the filling, I started with the savory ground cauliflower-walnut slop that I posted about months ago.  This turned out amazing inside of the ravioli, because the walnuts maintained their crunch, giving the filling more texture than most versions (vegan or otherwise) would.  However, I think you could easily also do this with plain ol' TVP or crumbled tempeh.  In any case, it's not pretty, but a) it's going inside of a ravioli, so who cares? and b) ground beef is a whole lot nastier.
Meaty Ravioli Filling

olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1.5 c something meaty (I used savory ground cauliflower-walnut slop but you could also use plain TVP or crumbled tempeh)
1/2 c red wine
2 TB tomato paste
allspice, to taste
oregano, to taste
cayenne, to taste
nutritional yeast, to taste
salt, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, heat olive oil.  Saute onions 5-10 min, then add garlic and a pinch of salt.  Saute a few more minutes, then add "meat."  Saute a few more minutes until browned.
2. Deglaze pan with the wine.  Then also add tomato paste and remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat and cook 5-10 more minutes--at least long enough for the alcohol smell to subside.


And now for the pasta!  I had to look around a bit for a recipe that used neither eggs nor semolina flour, but what I found worked like a dream (though I had to add a LOT more flour to balance out the water that the recipe called for).  Moreover, the chickpea flour in it adds fiber and protein.  I'm not exactly sure what the chickpea flour does for the consistency of the pasta, but this recipe seemed just right, despite the fact that I'd read that skipping the semolina flour would make your pasta mushier.

I've mapped out the timing for this process up above; the main thing is to give yourself more time than you think you need.

Homemade Ravioli
(adapted from

1 2/3 c unbleached white flour (plus a lot more for kneading/flouring)
1/2 c chickpea flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c water
1 batch ravioli filling (see above)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, chickpea flour, and salt.  Mix with a fork, then drizzle in water and mix well. 
2. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead 5-10 minutes until dough is firm and dry.  Place dough in a sealed ziploc bag for 10 minutes.
3. Open bag and cut dough into 8 separate pieces.  Leave the pieces you aren't using in the bag.
4. Roll out each piece on floured surface until quite thin.  Leave on a drying rack or hanging on a chair back to dry out for 5-10 min.
5. Start boiling a shallow pot of slightly salted water.
6. Return to each rolled out piece and, using a floured cookie cutter, cut the dough into pieces.  Then, scoop a heaping teaspoon onto every other piece (adjust this depending on the size of your cutout).
7. Slightly wet the edges of every other piece of dough, then assemble the ravioli, sealing the edges with the tines of a fork.
8. Put the completed ravioli into the boiling water (make sure it isn't boiling so hard that the ravioli are going to fall apart), only a few at a time.  Cook for 3-4 minutes and then remove.  Serve hot with sauce, or refridgerate or freeze for later.  Makes about 30 3x3-in raviolis.

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