A little while ago now we stopped on the way home from work at Cafe Lago, in Seattle. The place is just down the road from us, so we often end up there. Most Seattlites I am sure will know the place – pretty decent pizza and pasta, and ridiculously high prices for what they serve. The problem there is competition – there isn’t any.. unless you talk of Vios Cafe – another place that does great food, but you pay through the nose for it. Anyhow, I digress.. I had a special there which was a pea ravioli. They had it served smothered in a heavy marinara sauce, which completely overpowered the delicate nature of the ravioli themselves, which actually were little stars.
So.. I thought.. I have a pasta machine that I haven’t used in bloody ages – why not give some ravioli a shot. That was perhaps the first mistake of the night!!!
I should clear one thing up. These tasted great. Really great. My problem with them wasn’t the taste, it was just how bloody long it took to make them.
We all know that fava beans can take a little while – first podding them, then boiling for a couple of minutes, then ice bath, the peeling each individual bean again – since they have a double skin thing going on. Then you have to make the ravioli dough, run it through the pasta machine god knows how many times, then form the ravioli.. and so on and so on.
What happened was that I ran well overboard on the time for this one. Dinner time came and went. Drake got pretty pissy. In the end I had to cook a couple that were done for him, and some scallops, just to get the little lad some food – and get him into bed. Danika, my wife, was a complete star. She took care of Drake, fed him, and got him to sleep whilst I mucked around in the kitchen, getting the last few ravioli out. Not once did she complain – if the rolls were reveresed, there is no way I would have held composure for sure!! Thans Dani, you are bloody awesome!
So, back to the dish. Pretty simple of paper. Puree some fava beans and fresh english peas (both almost cooked completely) with some mint and olive oil to form a bit of a paste. This acts as the filling for the ravioli. Instead of a ridiculously heavy marinara source (as with Cafe Lago), I chose to pair these little devils with a light basil oil, some toasted pine nuts, and some reggiano.
The result was really great. Very light, very delicate yet bursting with spring flavor.
If you have some time to spare, and want a great little light pasta dish – I reckon this would please ya. Thankfully, towards the end of this I was getting much faster making raviolli – a good really.. However, I don’t think I will be saying “honey, shall we make ravioli tonight?” any time soon…
Oh – and the pasta dough recipe. I would love to tell you that I have an old recipe from my Italian grandmother, that was passed down through generations. I don’t. I don’t have an Italian grandmother. The grandmother that I did have I am sure never made pasta dough in her life. She was more a “pluck the feathers from a pheasant” kind of woman. Nope – this dough recipe comes straight from the Internet – from 101cookbooks to be precise.
Fava bean, pea and mint Ravioli – basil oil and pine nuts
1 cup of cake flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 large handfuls of fava beans – in their pods
1 large handful of fresh English peas, in their pods
small handful of mint leaves
salt and pepper
1 handful for fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (really good stuff)
1 small handful of pine nuts
So, to make the pasta.
In a large bowl, or on a work surface mound up the flour and salt. Make a well in the middle of this. Pour the olive oil and two eggs into the well, being careful not to spill anything out of the well. Fold the otsides in until combined. Add a tablespoon of water at a time to the mix. You want to add just enough water so that the dough stays together, but not too much so it becomes sticky. When perfect, take the dough out of the bowl, and need it for 5 minutes on a floured surface with floured hands.
When done needing, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and put in the fridge for at least an hour to rest.
Start my making the filling. Get a medium sized pot of water on the boil. Pod the fava beans and the peas, keeping them separate. Prepare an ice bath. When the water is boiling, toss in the fava beans. Boil for two minutes. Extract the beans, and tip them into the ice bath. Allow to completely cool. Whilst these are cooling, add the peas to the boiling water, and boil for about 5 minutes – until almost cooked through (they should still have a bite). Remove the fava’s when cooled, and then toss in the peas into the ice bath.
Fava beans also have a pod around each single bean, and we have to remove those. Hold a bean between your fingers, and gently pierce the outer skin with your nail. Push the bean out through the hole you just created. Do that for all of them.
Put the podded fava’s and peas in a food processor, along with the mint. Pulse a few times until you make a reasonably coarse paste. Loosen this a little bit with a glug or two of olive oil, and pulse again. We don’t want this completely smooth – it should still have some texture to it. Add more olive oil if you need too – we are looking to make a paste like substance that holds together reasonably well.
Now to make the basil oil. Puree the leaves and oil together in a food processor. Strain the result through a fine mesh sieve a few times. There you go – basil flavored oil!! If you want a really good basil oil, simply leave a bunch of basil leaves sitting in some olive oil for a couple of weeks in the fridge. This would be a great infusion, but I didn’t have a couple of weeks!
Now is the time to break out your pasta machine. Cut the dough in half. Take one half of the dough, and run it through the thickest (1) setting on your pasta machine. Fold the result in half, turn through 90degrees, and run through again. Change the setting to No. 2 (a little thinner). Run the dough through this setting, fold in half, turn through 90degrees, and run through again. Do this all the way until you reach number 5 on your machine. By now you should have a decent long flat surface of pasta dough.
If the dough develops tares then you most likely need to flour up the rollers of your pasta machine. This helps the dough not stick to the rollers, which can cause tares.
You should now have two sheets of pasta dough, roughly the same size. On one sheet put about a teaspoon of filling about 1″ in from the short edge, about 1″ from the top edge of the dough. Put another teaspoon of filling next to it – about 3 inches away from it. Keep going down the length of the pasta sheet doing this. Now do the same for the bottom of the sheet. Brush all around the balls of filling with a little water.
Lay the second sheet of pasta over the top, carefully pushing out any air from around the filing balls. Push down tightly to seal around them. When complete, use a knife to cut into individual ravioli.
Heat a large pot of water up to boiling. Add in the ravioli. You will want to boil these for about 6 minutes.
Whilst these are boiling, get a small frying pan hot over a medium heat. Toss in the pine nuts. Toast in the hot pan for a few minutes, until darkened. Transfer to a plate to cool.
When the pasta is done, drain it, and divide between two plates. Drissle over some of the basil oil, toss on some pine nuts, and grate over some parmesan. Enjoy!