Ok, don’t let the wordy girth of this one scare you. Ravioli is a little involved, but it really is pretty straightforward – and making them is a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. I like this one as a dinner for two: a dainty main-course that will satisfy you but not stuff you.
We sell Marcona Almonds in our Duluth deli, but I’ve spied them at several grocery stores. They are buttery, salty, and oh-so-bathed in sunflower oil, which gives the sauce a unique texture that clings to the ravioli without overshadowing the more subtle balance of the filling.
The smoked mushrooms are a winter experiment – they may turn up this spring in terrines, on our catering menu, and even on a sandwich or two. As mentioned below, you can certainly make a fine version of this without them.
Smoked Lake Superior Smoked Lake Trout Ravioli with Herbed Marcona Almond Butter
For the Pasta Dough:
3 large, preferably high-quality eggs
2 cups “OO” flour
For the Filling:
1/2 pound Lake Superior Smoked Lake Trout
15 ounces whole milk ricotta
zest of one lemon
1 heaping Tablespoon small-diced smoked mushrooms
1 large egg, beaten
For the Herbed Almond Butter:
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
1/2 cup (or a little more) extra-virgin olive oil
6-7 leaves of fresh basil
1 Tablespoon of de-sprigged (fresh) rosemary
1 Tablespoon of de-sprigged (fresh) thyme
Squirt of fresh lemon
salt to taste
Fine diced red onion
Fine shredded Parmigiano, aged Gouda, or Pecorino
On a large, dry surface, mound the flour. Create a large well in the center – enough to accommodate the eggs – and crack them into it.
With a fork, gently beat the eggs, slowly incorporating the flour as you go. Begin to work the eggs into the dough with your hands, leaving some flour on the outskirts: you only want to use enough to adequately moisten the dough. I’ve learned to be very cautious with my flour, especially during the winter months in Duluth – drier weather means drier pasta! When the dough holds together and becomes semi-smooth, scrape away the excess flour from the work surface and begin to knead.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes or so, until it is smooth and elastic. Cut the dough in 6 equal parts, roll these into balls, and wrap each ball in plastic. Let rest at room temperature while you make your filling.
With a fork, flake the Lake Trout. I prefer a tail for this recipe: there are less bones to contend with. Gently work the flesh away from the spine, prying a little at a time. Place the flaked trout in a large bowl. To this, mix in the ricotta, lemon zest, and smoked mushrooms (you can also use your own deeply sautéed version, cooled and then small-diced). Taste the mixture and adjust salt and pepper – when you have the seasoning where you want it to be, incorporate the egg. Cover the mixture and refrigerate while you make your herbed almond butter.
In a food processor or blender, pulse the almonds a few times, adding a little olive oil as you go. When the almonds are fairly broken, add the herbs and more olive oil and puree for 30-40 seconds. Taste the mixture, adding lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste, and also adding enough olive oil to make for a smooth, softer-than-peanut-butter consistency. Place in bowl, cover, and set aside.
Put a large pot of heavily salted water on the stove and crank the heat.Lay a clean cotton cloth on a baking sheet and have nearby your ravioli-making operation. Roll out each dough ball, using either a pasta roller if or a rolling pin, and construct the ravioli each time you roll out the dough rather than rolling all the sheets at once – the pasta will begin to dry out as soon as you roll it, and ravioli likes it sticky!
For larger ravioli, we hand-rolled the dough and did a fold-over technique for each individual ravioli, rolling the balls out to 6-7 inch approximate rectangles, placing about 3 Tablespoons of filling to the side, folding the dough over the filling, pressing out the air bubbles and simultaneously sealing in the dough, and finally cutting the ravioli free with a biscuit cutter. We then placed the mega-ravioli on the aforementioned cloth. For smaller (regular size ravioli) you can make several at once, basically repeating the same process but using a scant teaspoon of filling and placing the dollops at regular intervals that accommodate the dough pouch and the dough halo. Instead of a biscuit cutter, use a knife or a ravioli wheel to separate the pasta. Again, place these little guys on the prepared cloth, making sure they don’t touch (they tend to stick together as they dry).
After all the ravioli work, your pasta water should be boiling and ready to go. Gently pick up the cloth and create a hammock for the ravioli and pour them en masse into the pot. If the water is still at a rolling boil after you add the ravioli, turn it down a notch so as not to assault the pasta. Cook until pasta is tender and the filling is heated through – about 4 minutes or so.
When the pasta is cooked, you can strain them in a colander or remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon. If you opt for the smaller ravioli, toss them (gently) with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
Place a dollop of the almond mixture on a plate, add one mega ravioli (or several smaller ones), add another dollop of almond mixture, another round of ravioli, and then a final dollop of almond mixture. Garnish with fresh-grated cheese and red onion, and eat immediately, if not sooner.