Archive for ‘Pasta’

May 29, 2013

Last Night’s Dinner: Asparagus with salsify and hazelnut ravioli

Asparagus with salsify and hazelnut ravioli LO RES

It’s still the season for British asparagus (and yes, I believe it’s running slightly late this year, along with much of nature). Today we used up some local asparagus spears to accompany a homemade ravioli filled with a mix of black salsify, hazelnuts and ricotta. It’s a variation on a theme by our old favourite Denis Cotter, with a few ingredients changed, and it was rather delicious. I’ll write up more about homemade pasta soon but in the meantime, here’s what we did for this dish.

Serves two.

First, the ravioli filling: preheat the oven to 180c. Peel and dice around 100g of black salsify and boil in a small saucepan until tender. Scatter the salsify on an oven tray and place it in the warm oven to ‘dry out’ a little for around 10 minutes (you don’t want a soggy filling in your ravioli). After removing it, mash it with a fork. Leave the oven on.

Blitz 25g of hazelnuts in a food processor and transfer to a bowl, mix in the salsify mash, a large dessert spoon of ricotta, a large pinch of grated or ground nutmeg, season with a little salt and pepper and combine well. Set aside.

Now for a little ‘sauce’: squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a small pan, add some strips of lemon peel and 50ml of white wine plus a pinch of saffron strands. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for 3 minutes. Remove the strips of peel and add around 30g of unsalted butter. Stir until it melts. Keep this warm, but don’t let it boil.

Filling the pasta: a general way of making the ravioli is with two equal size sheets of thinly rolled pasta dough. Take the first and carefully place teaspoons of the filling on it, around 2.5cm apart. Brush the pasta with water or egg wash and place the other sheet on top. Press it down, making sure there are no air bubbles. Now use a ravioli cutter or knife to cut out square ravioli.

The asparagus: we used thick spears, woody ends snapped off, cut lengthways. Thinner ones can be left whole.

The tomatoes: slice a handful of cherry tomatoes in half and place them on an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with a little salt and place in the oven.

Now bring it all together. First put the asparagus in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for around 5 minutes until just tender. As it’s cooking, cook the ravioli for around 4 minutes in a large pan of salted water. Drain, return to the pan and add the lemon butter. Stir.

To serve, place the ravioli in wide bowls, place the asparagus on top, pour over any remaining lemon butter, add the tomatoes and finish with a scattering of chopped hazelnuts.

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April 17, 2012

Recipes for nettles

This is perhaps a point at which foraging for food becomes a prickly subject. All those features and TV cookery programmes that see chefs scouring wild landscapes for sea buckthorn or roaming the woods to find edible funghi… all that foraged food can seem ever so exotic, fit for a restaurant such as Noma in Copenhagen or one of its many followers. And yet, there’s a much more common ingredient, which grows in abundance, and which is probably due a revival, and which great so many kinds of recipes. It is, of course, the humble nettle. Why aren’t we all out there picking them?

Down the trail near our house nettles are shooting up all over the place at the moment: their fresh young leaves so green – not like the old deep green and tough-looking leaves found later in the year. But it’s not just about being in the countryside – I used to see nettles peeking through railings and rising up at the edges of the parks and canals of urban East London.

I’ve never picked any, though. Have you? Is it just me that’s been missing out? I had a lovely bowl of nettle soup once, at Petersham Nurseries. It was something of a revelation in its delicate greenness. And then it was forgotten again.

But when this damn rain stops I’m going to head out with some thick gloves and pick some nettles. And I’m going to make something with them. Watch this space.

In the meantime, here are a few ideas that might convince you to do the same.

For those of you who might want to make your own fresh pasta, try Blanche Vaughan’s nettle ravioli here. The Guardian feature is worth a read in any case, to put your mind at rest about how to treat nettles and their avoid their stings.

More recently in the Guardian is Hugh FW and his recipes for a nettle soup, a risotto and a nettle and feta filo pie. They’re here.

Happy foraging. Let us know how it goes!

August 16, 2011

Recipe: Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad

Yes, you read right. We were looking for a quick pasta and courgette dish, given my earlier comments regarding the abundance of those deep green, erm, truncheons at this time of year. First up on the internet came a recipe from our old friend Yotam Ottolenghi, although from a not very local source, namely the New York Times.

The recipe, which in a British translation is for Penne with Courgette and Mozzarella, is here and very good it looks too.