Sunday, June 26, 2011
English pea ravioli with mint, lemon zest, and toasted garlic
Many apologies for being silent the last couple of weeks. We've had a lot going on and I thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. Despite it all, I find myself saving up all of my energy to do what I love, and somehow things become bearable again, as we laugh and share beautiful, happy moments together.
One of our recent projects was to make fresh shelled English pea wonton raviolis. Ravioli made with wanton wrappers is simply wonderful and oh-so-gratifying. I must confess that I find it extremely relaxing to shell fresh peas. I realize that not everyone has the luxury to shell peas (or would derive the same level of pleasure in doing so), so no need to fret- a bag of frozen peas would work just fine for this dish.
For all of you Top Chef followers, remember Carla's heavenly peas? She blanched peas and tossed them in lemon thyme butter with lemon zest and shallot and finished with chopped tarragon. The elegant simplicity of the dish captured the true flavors of the fresh peas.
For this dish, I wanted to use simple flavors to balance the sweetness of fresh peas. We blanched fresh shelled peas until just crisp tender (about 3 to 4 minutes) in salted water, pureed them, and then cooked the pureed peas with garlic and shallot, gently mixing in parmesan, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. We brushed the edge of a wonton wrapper with a beaten egg, placed the filling in the center, and topped with a dry wrapper and pressed along the edges. And just like that you have wonton ravioli!
We lightly boiled the raviolis and tossed them with butter, a splash of reserved pasta water, a pinch of chili flakes, a squeeze of lemon, and lemon zest. Then we finished the dish with chopped fresh mint, toasted garlic, a snowy heap of parmesan and my usual favorite... toasted bread crumbs! The brightness of the lemon zest and depth of the herbs and toasted garlic enhanced the peas without masking their true flavor. And, let's be honest, who doesn't love the combination of fresh peas and mint?
English Pea Ravioli
For ravioli filling
1.5 cups shelled peas (or frozen, thawed)
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten lightly
24 wonton wrappers
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp lemon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (see note)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise and toasted (see note)
5-6 mint leaves, chiffonade
Cook peas in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly then purée in a food processor.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add pureed peas, season with salt pepper. Stir in cheese and lemon juice.
Brush edges of 12 wrappers with egg. Place 1 tablespoon of puree in the center, top with a dry wrapper, and seal edges, pressing out any trapped air. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling, keeping ravioli covered as you work. Trim using a 3-inch round cutter
Working in batches, cook ravioli in salted simmering water until they are soft and rise to the surface, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat; add red chili flakes, lemon zest, and a drizzle of lemon juice. Add ravioli to skillet with some reserved pasta water, and toss until ravioli is coated, 2 minutes. Transfer to serving plate. Sprinkle with toasted garlic, toasted bread crumbs, cheese, and garnish with mint. Serve immediately.
Note: To toast breadcrumbs, use 1 slice of bread (I like to use sour batard) and process until chunky crumbs form, avoid creating a fine powder. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add bread crumbs. Toast until light brown. Remove from heat and let cool. Given the lightness of this dish I prefer dry toasted breadcrumbs as opposed to breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil. Toast garlic in a similar manner.