The filling in this ravioli is exquisitely rich with a mild, but distinctive, flavor. You could substitute ricotta cheese, but the goat cheese has a nice subtle tangy quality that goes perfectly with the lamb. I’ve experimented with this dish a couple of times and have tried different complimentary flavors. The problem is that I can’t decide which I like best, so I think it’s only fitting to incorporate them all. Please note that the pictures show various stages/results.
The first time I made the ravioli, I prepared a plain pasta dough and a mushroom flavored pasta dough to make bi-colored ravioli. The flavor was outstanding, but the texture was not my favorite. I pureed the mushrooms as best I could, but they stubbornly retained some of their texture; I probably could have added even more oil to the puree, but I was worried about compromising the pasta dough. I have since found a recipe for porcini mushroom pasta which uses porcini mushroom powder (you make the powder by pureeing dried mushrooms, so you could use any dried mushrooms). I have included the link below, but I have to admit that I have not yet tried the recipe.
I added some sauteed morel mushrooms to the finished ravioli; I love the earthy flavors of the mushrooms and the lamb (you could use whatever mushrooms you like or are readily available). Finally, I decided to incorporate some pumpkin; so, in addition to the sage cream sauce, I added some swirls of pumpkin cream sauce. The slight addition was a nice touch without overpowering the dish with pumpkin flavor. So, my final vote goes to using unflavored ravioli with a lamb and goat cheese filling, sauteed wild mushrooms (morels if they are available), and a smothering of the delicate sage cream sauce with just a few accents of pumpkin cream sauce. I have included a recipe for basic pasta dough and some links for decent “how to” videos. If you don’t want to make your own pasta dough, store-bought wonton wrappers are a quick and easy (and perfectly acceptable) substitute. Also, you don’t have to have a pasta machine to make homemade pasta, you can roll it out by hand and cut it. If you decide to venture out, you will likely be amazed and delighted by homemade pasta; but let’s be real…when it comes to convenience, you can’t compete with the boxed pasta.
Recommended preparation schedule:
(I recommend reading through the entire blog and checking out some of the suggested videos before you begin).
Prepare the meat portion of the filling. While the filling is cooling, prepare the pasta dough. While pasta dough is resting, add cheese to meat filling. Roll out pasta dough, fill and cut raviolis. Set raviolis aside (single layer on a well floured surface). Prepare cream sauce (and saute some mushrooms if you’d like). Cook raviolis, top with cream sauce (s), garnish with sage leaf or parsley sprig and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Homemade pasta video:http://video.about.com/italianfood/How-to-Make-Fresh-Pasta.htm
Homemade pasta using a stand mixer (video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31ztSCuPR7Y
Porcini mushroom pasta recipe: http://www.cuisinivity.com/recipe/archive/entrees/porchini_fettucini_mushroomsauce.php
FOR THE LAMB AND GOAT CHEESE FILLING:
- 1 Medium Leek (white and light green parts only) – finely chopped*
- 1 Lb. Ground Lamb
- 1 TBS. Fresh Garlic – finely chopped
- 1 TBS. Olive Oil
- Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
- 4 – 8 Oz. Goat Cheese (plain)**
* You can substitute green onion, sweet onion, or chives
Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks (or onions) and garlic and saute until leeks are wilted or onions are translusent. Add ground lamb to pan and cook thoroughly. Remove from heat, drain off excess fat, and allow mixture to cool. When mixture is cooled, add goat cheese, cayenne pepper and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. ** I only used 4 oz. of goat cheese, but if you want more of a cheese filled ravioli, you’ll want to use more cheese.
FOR THE HOMEMADE RAVIOLI DOUGH:
- 3 1/2 Cups Flour (or a combination of regular flour and semolina flour)
- 5 Large Eggs
- Egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 TBS. water)
There are a couple of variables that will effect the consistency of your dough, in particular, the size of your eggs. It may be necessary to add more flour to your dough until you achieve an elastic, workable, dough ball that does not stick to your hands . If your dough seems to need more liquid, you can add a little water, but this is frowned upon by purists, so I err on the side of starting with less flour since it can easily be added.
Rather than give the detailed instructions for making the pasta (there are a variety of methods depending on your equipment) I am including a link to a good description of the process. If using a pasta machine, you may not want to go to the thinnest setting or your ravioli will be difficult to fill, cut, and cook without it tearing.
Cut your pasta into strips about 2 ” wide strips (you can go wider or narrower depending on how you like your ravioli. Starting 1 ” from the end, add about 1 TBS. of filling. Repeat process by adding filling every 2″. Using a pastry brush, brush all edges with egg wash. Cover bottom strip with another strip of similar length. Using a pasta cutter or knife, cut into squares so that filling is in center of the square. If using a pasta cutter/crimper, crimp all sides of the ravioli to seal. If you don’t have a pasta cutter, Use your fingers to tightly seal all sides of the ravioli. You can use a fork to crimp edges. For a good demonstration (although the shape is half moon rather than square), watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnj-chlS_WQ&feature=fvwrel
Cook the ravioli in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes (cook time depends on how thin your pasta dough was). The raviolis will float to the top as they cook, but I recommend testing one for doneness. The filling is cooked, so all you need to worry about is how tender you want the pasta.
For the Sage Cream Sauce:
- 4 TBS. Unsalted Butter
- 2 TBS. Fresh Sage – chopped
- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream*
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese – grated
- Salt and Pepper
Over medium heat, saute sage in butter. Add cream and reduce by 1/2. Add Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
*You can reduce fat and calories by substituting 1/2 and 1/2 or whole milk, but the sauce will be noticeably less rich.
If you’d like to accent the plate with some pumpkin cream sauce, simply combine equal parts of cream sauce with canned pumpkin.