Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Walnut-Gorgonzola Ravioli with Sun-Dried Tomato Sage Pesto


We had my special ladyfriend's relatives over for dinner a few nights ago and made this little gem. They liked it so much, I thought they were going to move in. I share this recipe so that you too can get on the good side with your in-laws. Served with a Cesar salad, good bread, and excessive volumes of red wine, there's no way you can end the night not a hero.

While you don't need any special equipment, an inexpensive crank-powered pasta roller is a big help. Well worth the investment. A $5 ravioli cutter is also a great investment, but a pizza slicer or even a sharp knife will substitute just fine--you just won't have the fun crimped edges.

Note that this pesto is also really great on pasta in place of traditional basil pesto if you’re looking for something new. And the cheese filling goes really well in lasagna recipes.

Prep time: 3 cocktails

Pesto:
2 cups rehydrated, drained sun dried tomatoes
¾ cup walnuts
1 cup fresh sage leaves, lightly packed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic
1 tsp pepper
½ cup water
½ cup grated high-quality Parmesan Reggiano

Filling:
¾ cup ricotta (part skim is fine)
½ cup grated mozzarella        
2/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola
½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano 
2 eggs
1 cup walnuts
3/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP fresh basil or Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely minced (optional)
1 TBSP shallot, finely minced (optional)

Dough:
2 large eggs
1 TBSP Water (a bit more if you're at altitude, like me)
Pinch salt
1 3/4 cup white flour
Additional flour for rolling

Combine all pesto ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Add additional salt to adjust flavor and additional water if the consistency to too thick. Transfer to another container and set in refrigerator.

Wash and dry food processor. Add all the filling ingredients, except for basil or parsley and shallot and process until it makes a totally smooth cheesy filling. Stir in the herbs and shallot and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, mix all dough ingredients except flour. Then, as you continue to mix, gradually add flour. You want a cohesive ball that isn't sticky. If you're not there, add water or flour as needed. Remove dough from bowl and roll as thinly as possible on a floured surface without making holes with rolling pin or pasta roller. Thickness of 1/8 inch or less is ideal. If you don’t have a lot of counter space you’ll probably have to break the dough into a few smaller batches for rolling.

Now you’re ready to assemble the raviolis. Cut rolled dough into 4-by-3-inch rectangles (a pizza slicer works great for this, if you’ve got one handy). Brush edges with a little bit of water. Place a heaping tablespoon (or so) of filling in middle. Fold the ravioli over long-ways and tightly pinch it shut with your fingers. The raviolis should close well unless there’s too much filling—adjust ravioli size or filling amount, if necessary. As you set aside the prepared raviolis, note that they’re pretty sticky, so it’s a good idea to set them on a floured surface and, if you stack them, to separate layers with wax paper.

(Note that if you use a pasta roller and have pretty uniform-shaped pasta sheets, it's faster to just take 1 full pasta sheet, put dollops of filling a few inches apart, brush the spaces in between with water, then put another sheet on top, seal each with your fingertips, and cut.)

To cook, boil the raviolis for 5-7 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Note that after cooking, leftover  raviolis will stick together in the fridge, so only cook as many as you need. Any uncooked raviolis will be just fine in the refrigerator for several days (separated with wax paper) until you cook them.

Serve topped with pesto and additional fresh-grated Parmesan! Eat!

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