Light and creamy poppy seed ravioli with a nutty crunch and spring flavours
The homemade pasta studio recipe section is going live (yay!) and the first recipe is a real flavour-bomb! When I build a recipe I usually think in food pairings and for this recipe my base and anchor point was the poppy seed pasta dough. Poppyseeds are such a nice little twist to an otherwise basic egg pasta dough, adding not only a nice crunch and delicious nuttiness but also a beautiful, eye-catching optic. I wanted to keep the rest of the dish light and with a hint of spring, but also add some less predictable notes. The filling of whipped ricotta, parmesan and thyme-infused brown butter is wonderfully creamy but not too heavy and the caramelized balsamico apples add a tangy sweetness to the dish. I knew that with so many flavours already on one plate it would be best to keep the sauce itself simple, bringing back some of the ingredients from the filling to gently coat the pasta. The unassuming star of the dish that gives that little bit of extra crunch to each bite is the walnut pangrattato, a twist on the ‚poor man’s parmesan‘ that I now want to sprinkle on everything.
As elaborate as the dish looks, you can split up the prep work to when it suits you best and then use your freezer and fridge to keep the separate ingredients fresh until it’s time to plate, eat and enjoy. I’d recommend making the pangrattato first, it stays fresh for a few days in an airtight container and is super simple to make. The whipped ricotta and brown butter appear both in the filling and in the sauce so just split of the quantities needed for the sauce and store them in the fridge until you’re ready. Then make the filling with the remaining ricotta and brown butter as well as the parmesan - all it takes is a few extra whirls in your kitchen machine for it to be ready. The dough of course needs some good old-fashioned kneading, and once it#s ready you can make the ravioli. At this point you could caramelize the apples, boil the pasta and assemble everything on the plate, but if you’re not planning to eat straight you could also blitz-freeze the ravioli and store them in the freezer until it’s time for the big meal.
All you need to feed four pasta lovers
Ingredients for the pasta dough, the filling and the sauce
400g 00 flour
50g semolina flour
2 tbsp poppy seeds
250g ricotta (225g for the filling, 25g for the sauce)
100g grated parmesan
80g butter (50g for the filling, 30g for the sauce)
10 thyme sprigs
Ingredients for the pangrattato
2 tbsp walnuts
2 slices of stale bread
Ingredients for the caramelized balsamico apples
1 tsp brown caster sugar
1 tbsp balsamico
Let's get cooking
To make the ravioli
Place the flour, semolina flour and poppy seeds in a large bowl, making an indentation in the middle with your fist. Pour the eggs into the well and scramble it with a whisk or fork so that it starts picking up some dry ingredients from the outside edges. Once you feel more resistance to your whisking, start incorporating dry ingredients into the egg by heaping a bit of flour mixture over the eggs and pressing down with your fingertips. Once most of the flour mixture is incorporated, turn everything over onto a wooden working top and knead for 10 to 15 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Wrap the pasta dough in a slightly moistened kitchen towel and let it rest for a few minutes (perfect time to make the filling), then start rolling out long pasta sheets with your pasta machine.
On one pasta sheet, make some soft indentations with a cookie cutter. Pipe a dollop of filling (recipe below) into the center of each indentation, then cover everything with a second pasta sheet. Gently press out any air from around the filling and smooth the two dough layers together with your fingertips. Then use the same cookie cutter again to cut out ravioli, making sure the filling is in the center of your cookie cutter and you have a few milimeters of fillingless dough around the edges. If all your other ingredients are ready, boil the pasta in salted water for 3 minutes or longer - depending on how thick your pasta dough is. It’s always a good idea to take on raviolo out and test whether there’s still a white line and a bite to the dough, in which case you can give the pasta another minute.
To make the filling
Start by browning your butter in a skillet, gently moving it around to prevent it from getting too dark. When you see brown particles appearing, turn off the heat and take out the 30g you will need for the sauce. Add the leaves of your thyme sticks into the still-hot butter (it will sizzle a bit as the flavour infuses into the butter) and then pour everything onto a shallow bowl to cool off. Move on to making whipped ricotta (I promise, you’ll be amazed by how fluffy it gets!). Just place all your ricotta in a kitchen machine and blend it for around a minute. It should look almost like stiff egg whites in consistency when you’re done. Now grate your parmesan and add it to the ricotta, along with the cooled-down thyme-infused brown butter. Blend everything together until it’s smooth, about one or two minutes. Fill your filling into a piping bag to make the ravioli.
To make the pangrattato
In a clean and dry kitchen machine (important, in case you just used yours to make the filling) blitz the stale bread and the walnuts until they’re small and crumbly. Then add them, along with a dash of salt, to the same pan you just used to brown the butter in. If you’re making this ahead of time, just add a little dose of olive oil. Toast everything until you smell the aromas developing, then take the pangrattato out of the pan and spread it out on a baking sheet to cool down. It can be stored in an airtight jar for a few days. That is… if you don’t immediately sprinkle it over every single think you eat.
To make the caramelized balsamico apples
Quarter your apple and thinly slice each quarter. Heat a grill pan on the stove top and spread out the slices, letting them sear for a few minutes until ‚burnt‘ strips appear. In the meantime, bring back the same frying pan you used for the butter and the pangrattato, set it on low heat and add the brown caster sugar. It will take a little while where seemingly nothing happens, then very fast melt and begin to bubble, so keep an eye on it. When it bubbles, turn off the heat, pour in the balsamico, then add in the seared apple slices and give everything a swirl. Now that all your components are ready, you can plate your delicious meal.
Assembling your dish
The ravioli form the basis of your dish, spread them out on the 4 plates. Drop on about half of the brown butter. Then add a few dollops of whipped ricotta on each plate. Distribute the caramelized apple slices, tucking them in between the ravioli. Sprinkle on a generous serving of pangrattato and finish the dish with another round of brown butter.