Soon after de-glutenizing my diet, I realized that eating fresh pasta would be a bit of a problem. It’s not like one can buy it; at least I’ve been unable to find fresh pasta in all of the (organic) supermarkets here in Cologne. And I love fresh pasta, particularly the kind with eggs.
As you probably figured out already: eating fresh pasta was always an issue, given that they usually contain egg. A firm believer in fair animal rearing, I try to eat as little eggs as possible and when I buy eggs, they have to be certified organic and free-range. Even then I think it would probably be better know a farmer. The fresh pasta (with gluten) that you can buy at the supermarket, usually contains egg – and who knows where it comes from and under what conditions the hens are held – so buying that was out of the question for a few exceptions.
I figure: if I make my own fresh pasta and have control over the type of egg that goes into it, it will still be better than buying pasta with eggs with unknown origin. And since they don’t sell fresh gluten-free pasta in my area (at least that I know of), making my own it is!
For years friends, who had made their own pasta, kept telling me that making ravioli is not difficult at all and not time-consuming either. I didn’t believe them, caught up in the idea that I required a pasta maker. So I pestered my husband about buying one. He suggested that perhaps I try making pasta first, see if I like it and needed a pasta maker for successful results and that then, sure, we could buy one. Of course, I can just buy a pasta maker if it strikes my fancy, I just like to involve my husband in any larger financial decisions and when buying things that will take up space, given he does the same with me.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I made my first batch of ravioli – filled with ricotta and spinach. My friends did not lie: it was not difficult at all. My kitchen was a mess though and it was time-consuming. The ravioli were delicious and I made so many of them (this probably explaining why it was so time-consuming), that I ended up freezing most of them. I really enjoyed the process a lot, especially after I kept wondering throughout the dough-making and ravioli-filling whether the results would be any good. My success spurred me on and I began concocting new fillings, hoping to try them out this weekend. On my list are a bunch of fillings that I have been served at restaurants once and then never again, such as pear and walnut.
But this weekend, it had to be a pumpkin filling. I love pumpkin. I am also a huge fan of pumpkin and ricotta filled lasagna with caramelized onions and sage. These raviolis are a tribute to that dish.
For the dough (will leave you with about half the amount of dough left over, so if you want to pair the dough and the filling exactly, either double the amount of filling listed below or halve the amounts of the ingredients in the dough recipe).
2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Schaer’s Bread mix)
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup whole grain rice flour
5 whole large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of a combination of xanthan and guar gum, carob and arrowroot flour
For the filling
1 small pumpkin (about a pound)
4 to 5 middle-sized onions (peeled and cut into thinnish slices)
40g parmiggiano cheese (in small, thin slices)
2 tsp butter
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp oil
salt, pepper and sage to taste
1 egg white
Tools: one rolling pin, a small bowl (for the egg white), a clean and ample surface in your kitchen, a fork and a small knife, parchment paper (to place the ravioli).
Wash the pumpkin, halve it and remove the pits with the help of a spoon. Place the pumpkin in your oven (at about 225 °C; I used the oven function of my microwave, where one can also bake cakes) with a little bit of water and a bit of butter in each pumpkin half and let it roast for about 15 to 20 minutes. Take out when pumpkin is soft, let cool. Afterwards, separate peel from pumpkin “meat” and place it in a bowl. Mash pumpkin with the back of a fork, add the mascarpone and mix well.
In a different bowl combine all the ingredients for the dough and create a smooth dough. Roll into a ball, wrap entirely in a plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Fry the onion slices with the oil and the fresh sage leaves in a pan until they are soft and brown, about 15 minutes. Add one tablespoon of butter and the tablespoon of sugar and wait for onions to caramelize. Blend with pumpkin-masarpone mix with a fork or a spoon, add parmiggiano and then add salt and pepper to taste.
On a clean surface dusted with flour, roll out golf-sized pieces of dough, cut out rectangular pieces (double the size you want your raviolis to be), place a teaspoon of filling in the middle, line the filling with egg white, fold one side of the ravioli over the filling and gently fixate dough pieces over each other, always ensure the dough does not tear. Make a pattern with the fork teeth all around the ravioli and then cut out the remaining flour to make the ravioli round. Place finished ravioli onto a parchment paper and repeat. Do not stack ravioli on top of each other as they will stick to each other and you will damage them when tearing them apart.
Once you have finished assembling all of the ravioli, boil salty water in a pot. Boil the ravioli a few at a time, when they reach the surface, they are usually done. This takes about a minute or two. Drain ravioli and serve as desired.
In order to freeze the leftover ravioli, let them dry half an hour, stack several layers of ravioli, each on a separate sheet of parchment paper. Place in freezer bag and put into your freezer. To defrost prepare as above, boiling them slightly longer.
I made Roasted Hazelnut Sauce.
For the Hazelnut sauce:
1 tsp of butter
1 tsp of fresh sage leaves
1 tsp fresh parsley
2 tablespoons ground hazelnut
salt and pepper to taste
In a pan, melt the butter and add the sage, then add the ground hazelnut and wait until roasted, then add the cooked ravioli and toss around thoroughly. Serve on a plate, decorated with thin slices of parmiggiano.