Anybody who reads this blog regularly will know that vegetarian stuff is a bit of a rarity (usually an accident, in fact). Given that I like to discommode myself occasionally, and to try different things, it seemed reasonable to go veg for a change. So I got to thinking of salting some cabbage or frying some carrots, or whatever it is you vegetarians get up to when you are working up an appetite. Nothing inspiring came to mind. Eventually, I had a notion that I should try some ravioli. I hadn’t prepared it in a while. I could easily make it a vegetarian dish.
I ruminated some more and decided on Mushroom, Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli. The ingredients when combined would be tasty enough (It’s hard to make a shambles of a vegetarian ravioli, if you manage to get the pasta right). I used the following for a main course for two.
Ingredients for the ravioli
- 200 grammes of chestnut mushrooms
- A colander full of spinach
- 50 grammes of fresh goats cheese
- A nice lump of butter (to fry the mushrooms)
- Salt and black pepper to season
- 220 grammes of ’00’ flour
- 2 eggs and the yolk of a third
The dish is really brought out of vegetarian anonymity by the addition of a simple yet explosively flavoursome Parsley and Lemon Butter Sauce.
Ingredients for the sauce
- 200 grammes of lovely Irish butter
- A good squeeze of lemon (taste the sauce as you go) Don’t be afraid of it.
- A big handful of parsley
Get the mushrooms peeled and chopped. They look pretty uninviting (like most vegetarian stuff). However, remember my mantra for this post BMIB – Butter Makes It Better!
Add a big knob of butter to a frying pan. When it starts to foam, add the mushrooms and get somebody to stir them around in the pan. They will absorb all the butter. This is what you want them to do. They will also release most of the liquid they hold. You want this to happen too. This intensifies the woody flavour and works very well with the butter. Your stirring person will need to keep at it for a good half an hour working over a low to medium heat. Don’t forget BMIB.
Let the mushrooms cool. Steam the spinach and squeeze the water out of it (I squeezed it into a glass and drank it. It is very good for one, even if you aren’t a vegetarian).
Add the flour to a big bowl and add the eggs.
Next mix the flour and eggs, by hand, into a pasta dough. Knead the dough until it forms a nice springy mixture. Add a little flour if you need to. Add a little of the white of the third egg, if you add too much flour. Work at it. Knead it some more.
Pop the dough in the fridge for half an hour. Chop the mushrooms (reserving a few for decoration) and spinach nice and small as it will be going into the ravioli. Mix them with the goats cheese. Season and taste. Add more goat’s cheese if you like. It works very well with the other ingredients.
Take the pasta out of the fridge and then roll it out into big long strips.
Spoon small lumps of filling out on to one of the strips, spacing them so you maximise the pasta.
Put the top pasta on and work the trapped air out towards the edge in the same way as one gets bubbles out from under wallpaper. Then use a ravioli cutter to slice out the raviolis. They should be as air free as possible. If you don’t have such a device, use a pastry ring or anything that will give a nice round edge. If you do this, be sure to squeeze the ravioli skins together to avoid them floating apart in cooking.
Lift away the spare pasta and reserve.
Bring a big pot of water to the boil. The ravioli can wait for a few minutes while you make the sauce.
Add the butter to a saucepan on a low heat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and throw in the parsley. Warm it up and taste (don’t burn yourself). Adjust the lemon juice (add more) until it tastes sharp yet buttery (ohhhh soooo butttterrryyy).
Slide the ravioli into the boiling water. They will be cooked in three minutes or so. Don’t over-cook them. Use a sieve type spoon to lift them out. Serve and pour the sauce over.
Sprinkle the reserved mushrooms over. Sit down and enjoy a wonderful dish. Despite this being a vegetarian dish (assuming eggs, goat’s cheese and butter are OK with you), it was bursting with flavour.
We enjoyed this no end. So much so that I put the water back on to boil, cooked the offcuts of pasta, added some leftover filling and poured the last of the oh so buttery sauce over. Porcine behaviour. Which is paradoxical given that this is vegetarian…..