Monday, 29 April 2013

Egg yolk and ricotta ravioli with asparagus, asparagus puree, smoked salmon and capers

Tomorrow this blog will be a year old; I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone! In that time I have made 47 posts of recipes and reviews, way more than I ever could have hoped when starting out. I’ve certainly come a long way in my cooking, and continue to learn with everything I make. By blogging I have become competitive with myself, trying to make the dish that I am cooking even better than the last. I’d never have thought that my blog would drive me to make things like ballotines and consommes, and I’m excited about what’s to come in the future. Writing about food has also been really fun, I enjoy the weekly cooking routine and I have met some wonderful like-minded people along the way. Long may it continue!

This recipe is another example of something that I would never have thought of making a year ago. I first discovered the concept of an egg yolk ravioli a while ago when it was featured on a cooking programme, potentially Masterchef from memory. It sounded great; perfectly cooked pasta with a soft filling and runny egg yolk pouring out. All of my favourite things in one go! It did look really complicated though, requiring a very delicate approach to avoid breakages. 

This proved to be the case when constructing the ravioli, but I have to admit that is was easier than I first anticipated. I found that the key is to make a little cup in the filling that will encase and protect the yolk while you seal the pasta. Timings are just the same as I would use when cooking normal ravioli. A poached egg cooks in 2 minutes, so after that time the pasta was cooked and the yolk still good and runny. A great tip with ravioli and pasta in general that I have recently learned is to use cous cous to dust the outside of the finished pasta instead of flour. Whist cooking, flour tends to form a claggy paste around the pasta whilst cous cous just drops to the bottom of the water.

The other thing that I had to think about with this dish was what to serve alongside the ravioli. I have seen it made with just a simple butter sauce in the past, but for this recipe I wanted to add a few more elements. I thought about using mushrooms, which would have been lovely, but I am aware that I have cooked with mushrooms loads recently so don’t want to be too much of a one trick pony! Instead I chose to wait until the British asparagus season was upon us and make use of the extremely short period that such an amazing ingredient is available to us. Those imported Peruvian ones available aren’t nearly as good! Asparagus is so good with boiled and poached eggs so I was sure it would be great with this. By using it simply boiled and in pureed form it makes it a bigger component of the dish and not just something stuck on the side. The other thing that I have used is smoked salmon, which adds a lovely smokey taste and rounds everything off. 

A note on the amarinth leaves. As I have said before, micro leaves should not just be used to make a plate look pretty, as every ingredient should contribute to the overall taste. In this case they add a subtle beetroot flavour with gives the recipe a nice earthiness. If you can’t find any, baby watercress would give pepperiness that would work.

Serves 2


For the pasta: 

100g strong ‘00’ flour, plus more for dusting
1 medium egg
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt

150g good ricotta
1 tbsp tarragon leaves, finely chopped 
1/2 lemon, juice only
Salt and pepper
2 egg yolks, whites kept for brushing

1 tbsp cous cous

For the asparagus puree:

6 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2” pieces
1 lemon, juice only
50g butter, at room temperature and cut into small cubes
Salt and pepper

To finish: 

The tops of 4 asparagus stalks, peeled, the rest used for the puree
4 slices good smoked salmon, trimmed
1 tsp capers, rinsed
A few pinches of red amarinth leaves

First make the pasta dough by tipping the flour onto a work surface. Make a hole in the middle and crack in the egg and add the oil and salt. Using a fork mix well, incorporating the flour bit by bit. When incorporated, knead well with your hands for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough feels smooth and elastic in texture. Wrap with clingfilm and leave to rest for at least fifteen minutes, preferably longer. 

While the pasta is resting make the filling by combining the ricotta, chopped tarragon, lemon and seasoning. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, you want the seasoning to be quite high to balance with the egg yolk. Set aside. 

Put a small saucepan of seasoned water on to boil. 

To make the asparagus puree, boil the asparagus until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the water and transfer to a food processor with the seasoning and lemon juice. Blitz well, then add the butter a cube at a time. Combine again. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Set aside.

When the pasta has rested, remove it from the fridge and using a pasta machine roll it through every setting until it is the thinnest it can be. Cut the pasta sheet into two, and using a 3 1/4” pastry cutter gently mark two circles onto one of the sheets. Arrange one teaspoon of the ricotta mixture in the middle of each circle and create a deep indent that will hold the egg yolk. Very carefully separate the egg yolks, reserving the whites, and tip the yolk into the centre of each filling. Brush some of the egg white around each filling, covering an area larger than will be needed once the pasta is cut. Cut the other pasta sheet into large squares, and one at a time, very delicately position over pile mound of filling. Starting from one end, seal the pasta sheets together, pushing any air bubbles out. When fully sealed, cut around the fillings with the cutter. Dust with a small amount of the flour and move to a plate lined with baking parchment and scattered with the cous cous. Set aside white you finish the dish. 

Fill up 2 saucepans with well seasoned water and bring to the boil. 

When the water is boiling in both pans, drop the asparagus tips into one and boil for 3 minutes. After one of the minutes, put the ravioli into the other pan and cook for the remaining 2 minutes. 

While the asparagus and pasta are cooking prepare the plates. Spoon a generous amount of the puree onto each plate and position the smoked salmon opposite. Top the salmon with some capers and the amarinth leaves. Drain the cooked ravioli and the asparagus and position onto the plates. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil around and serve.

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