These ravioli have a slightly sinister look to them, don't you think? Instead of caramel apples, which I also made and were a big hit (dipped in homemade salted caramel, toasted coconut and pecans), we have 'spooky' squid ink-striped ravioli with a smoky eggplant filling
You might be thinking, who has time to make homemade pasta in this crazy, fast-paced world we live in? Let alone, a labor-intensive striped pasta (that must be made by hand, there's no other way that I'm aware of). Why bother, when you can go to the freezer section of your local grocery store and buy pre-made ravioli?
Oh, but this isn't any old ravioli. These are light, delicate pillows of sinister goodness.
Moreover, these ravioli are not that hard to make, just a bit time consuming. For me, they are a bit of an [art] project, that is, a deliciously, edible art project. Besides, I find rolling pasta to be soothing.
The repetitive nature of making pasta/ravioli has a calming effect on me. One of the few moments I can shut my brain off and just concentrate on the task at hand (get lost in the moment). I love the whole process, from kneading the dough, to forming the sheets, to piping the filling, and forming the ravioli. Even more fun, if you pour yourself a glass of wine and turn up the music while doing so.
Added bonus -- you can make a bunch of ravioli and freeze them. They freeze well. You don't even need to defrost before cooking, just pop them straight from the freezer into a pot of [salted] boiling water and the ravioli cook within minutes.
You can save time and skip the squid ink. If you can't find squid ink, you could use beets, spinach, etc., to make different colored pastas. However, for those of you who are curious, this is how I made the striped pasta sheets for my ravioli...
1. Roll out a sheet of yellow pasta (the pasta will be thick at this point, roll to the second thickest setting on your pasta machine).
2. Roll out a sheet of squid ink pasta (second thickest setting) and cut into strips (as shown below).
3. Lightly spritz the yellow sheet with water and evenly space out the squid ink strips on top of the yellow pasta sheet. Gently press down so the strips stay in place.
4. Carefully run the pasta through your pasta machine to the thinnest setting. You want the sheets as thin as possible for ravioli. You may need to trim the pasta with a knife if the sheet gets too wide to run through your machine.
With me so far?
5. Cut into rounds. Work quickly and keep any pasta you're not working with covered in plastic to prevent it from drying out.
6. Pipe the filling in the center of the pasta rounds. Lightly spritz with water and seal the edges of the pasta (making sure to press out any air pockets before sealing).
7. At this point, the ravioli are ready for a quick dip in boiling salted water. Or, you can freeze them for a later date. If you opt to freeze, spread the ravioli out in a single layer and place in the freezer for an hour or so. Thereafter, portion and place in ziplock bags, and store in the freezer -- and enjoy at your convenience.
For the filling...
The filling is what makes this dish sing. It's a smoky eggplant filling. Made a version of this when I was at the Dublin Cookery School in Ireland earlier this year. Have been thinking about it ever since.
Was fortunate to spend a week with the talented Matt Sigler [formerly of Flour and Water in San Francisco, CA] making pasta, among a slue of other things, to include head cheese :-). It was one of the best (and most delicious) weeks I can remember having in a long time.
The eggplant were roasted until charred on the outside and tender and smoky on the inside, as if you were making make baba ghanoush, Next, I mixed in cheese, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and sea salt, and processed (food processor) until smooth.
Transfer the filling to a piping bag and the fun begins...
To finish the dish...I added pesto, cherry tomatoes, shaved Parmesan, toasted pinenuts, and lemon zest.