Pasta is one of those kitchen staples that has so many applications, it is impossible to list the myriad of dishes in this short column. The word ‘pasta’ literally translates into ‘paste’. While the concept of a malleable dough, shaped and cooked is widely accepted as originating in Italy, it truly is a global phenomenon these days—and universally enjoyed. According to the Encyclopedia of Pasta, there are 310 specific forms of pasta with over 1,300 documented names. One particular ‘shape’ (cavetelli) has 28 different names depending on the town or region in which it is made!
With all that said, making pasta is pretty easy. Freshly made pasta right out of the pot with a little butter or olive oil and some fresh herbs is a dish fit for the finest of tables. As with many dishes I write about, pasta is something that kids can have great fun making. Basic pasta can be made with nothing more than a flat surface and a rolling pin. However, if you wish to take your pasta making to another level and make preparation easier, use a pasta roller or pasta maker available in the marketplace.
The basic concept begins with a high protein flour, usually durum, mixed with enough water and/or an egg to form a smooth pliable dough. This is then shaped into one of the 310 forms discussed above. Pasta shapes range from basic flat or round noodles to complex forms, all designed to accept quite specific types of sauces or dish preparations.
My favourite origin story is that of tortellini. Legend goes that a young Italian cook was so in love with his girlfriend that all day long he would think about her. One day, while making a stuffed ravioli, his love drove his creativity juices to create a little pasta pocket that reminded him of her belly button.
This month’s recipe is a stuffed pasta—also known as ravioli— which can be made in advance and frozen, albeit delicately, to be used at your convenience. Buon appetito!
Find all of Steven’s contact info on the Camosun Culinary Arts portal listing page here on GoWestShore.
Yield: 6 portions
PASTA DOUGH INGREDIENTS
225 g 2 cups Durum or bread flour
Pinch of salt
3 Eggs, beaten
250 g 2 cups Shrimp meat, raw
Salt and white pepper
40 ml Egg whites (1)
150 ml 2/3 cup Whipping cream
2 L 21/8 qt Chicken stock,
(reduced by half to 1 L/11/16 qt)
60 g 1/3 cup Watercress
120 g 2/3 cup Tomato concassé,
(skinless and seedless diced tomato)
Coarse sea salt (fleur de sel)
PASTA DOUGH METHOD
- Place flour and salt on work surface. Make a well in the center and add eggs.
- Working from the center outward, gradually mix the flour into the eggs to make a dough, add a little more flour if it feels sticky. Knead until smooth.
- Cover and rest for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make filling.
- If you have a pasta roller, roll rested dough to the second thinnest setting. Otherwise, roll the dough
using a rolling pin in three batches until it is 1mm thick.
- Place shrimp meat into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add egg white and incorporate thoroughly. Then, slowly add the cream while the processor is still running.
- On a well-floured surface, cut rolled pasta into 36 x 60mm/2.5” discs.
- Brush the edge of 18 of the pasta discs VERY lightly with water and place a spoon of the shrimp filling in the centre of each disc.
- Place a clean pasta disc on top of each one and pinch the edges together carefully making sure that no filling leaks out. Work around the outer edge in one direction so that the last pinch will expel any air from the ravioli. Each ravioli should then be ‘crimped’ to seal and squeeze the two layers of pasta together. (NOTE: They may be frozen on a sheet pan at this stage prior to cooking; but be aware they become VERY fragile so must be handled carefully.)
- Cook in boiling salted water for 4 minutes (5 minutes from frozen).
- Form the rest of the dough into a flat round and roll into a circle about 30cm/12” in diameter. Line a prepared 24cm/9” tart pan (Straight sides. May be fluted.)
- Roll the ¼ piece of dough into a 12cm/5” diameter circle and cut into 1cm/½” strips.
- Serve three per portion in a large warm bowl in hot chicken stock and watercress, tomato concassé and lemon zest, finished with course sea salt (fleur de sel).