Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mushroom Ravioli and Tuscan Bean Soup

Inspired by Dominica Marchetti’s ravioli recipe in this month’s Food and Wine magazine, I decided to finally fulfill my ongoing desire of making ravioli.  Now, I’ve seenJacques Pepin do this with ease and thought “this can’t be so hard.” I honestly couldn’t have been more wrong. Someone once told me to always have a backup plan when trying out new recipes, just in case, so I decided to pair the ravioli with Tuscan Bean soup. (Inspired by Emeril Lagasse’s recipe)
Off to the market I go in search for inspiration for my ravioli filling. I think of all the different types of cheese concoctions I could whip up but then decide that I want to go for something with more a fall taste. I didn’t want to go too crazy with the recipe my first go around, so I settle on a mushroom and ricotta filling.
Following the simple ravioli directions religiously, I start on the soup while the dough comes to room temperature.
Tuscan Bean Soup: Serves 8
  • 1 -14-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 - 14-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound diced pancetta
  • 2 cups diced yellow onions
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 - 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, plus extra water if needed
  • 1 sprig of fresh oregano
  • 2 heads of kale, stems removed and cut into bite size pieces
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, for serving
1.      In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, cooking until slightly crispy. Sauté the onion, celery, and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in one cup of chicken stock and let it simmer for about 5-10 minutes. This will allow for the seasonings from the pancetta and the onions, celery and garlic to become more concentrated.
2.      Once the soup turns to a dark yellow/brown color, add the kidney beans, cannellini beans, carrots, tomatoes, oregano and the rest of the chicken stock. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, and then add the kale. Continue cooking for about an hour.
Now, ya see, I’ve obviously never made ravioli before and from watching chefs make it on TV, it seemed to be a pretty simple task to accomplish. I do not have a hand cranked pasta machine so I thought rolling it out the old fashioned way would be just as good. Let me be the first to admit how much I cursed while making this dish. 
I cut the dough into four pieces, as the recipe stated, and got to work. When I first started working with the dough, I thought I had done something wrong. It was a little crumbly and didn’t look like it was going to roll out nicely. Showing it some tough love, I started kneading, and kneading, and kneading. The oil and warmth of my hands aided in combining the dough and it slowly began to form a malleable consistency. I could see it was ready to be rolled out.
Smacking the oval of dough with my rolling pin a few times to begin, I start the ever so challenging rolling of the dough. Dominca states as a tip in her recipe that she knows the dough is ready when you can hold it up and see a shadow of your hand behind it. Good luck getting to that point with a rolling pin.
I thought of the old Italian woman and their strong arms as I pushed the dough. I thought of my grandmother in the kitchen for hours making pierogies, which I heard are just as challenging to make. I thought of me, without my pasta machine, determined to succeed in my ravioli making quest. I pressed on and started to enjoy the tedious process.
Finally, I see the shadow behind the dough and break out my cookie cutter. I wanted to get the most out of the dough considering it was difficult to make so I decided to use a 2 ½ inch cookie cutter to make the raviolis. My rounds are cut and I’m ready to stuff them with my mushroom ricotta recipe.

Painlessly Simple Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli Stuffing:
·         One stick of salted butter, cut into 6 pieces
·         1 lb. brunoise white mushrooms
·         8oz whole Ricotta Cheese.
1.      Melt the butter in a large non stick pan and combine with the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until they are soft and golden brown.
2.      Remove from heat. Drain access butter and put aside to use for the sauce.
3.      In a medium bowl, add ricotta to the mushrooms
I dab a teaspoon of my filling in the middle of each round and top with another. Being careful to keep the filling from oozing out, I pinch the outer corners of the ravioli and form a seal. I then throw them in a boiling pot of salted water for about a minute or two. Voila! They’re beautiful!
Over medium heat in a small sauce pan, I add a tablespoon of olive oil and a minced garlic clove to the mushroomed butter and pour over my cooked ravioli. By now my soup is complete and I’m ready to dine.
I top my soup off with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, pour a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and marvel at my creation. Every bite is more delicious than the next and both meals complement each other beautifully. As I finish off my ravioli, I vow to treat myself to a hand cranked pasta machine before I try the cheese ravioli.

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