Ravioli with Crabmeat
People generally assume a stock standard Italian diet is pasta everyday, and by pasta they’re referring to the stereotypical spaghetti al Bolognese. I’m always quick to point out that no we don’t just eat pasta, and when we do very rarely is it spaghetti al Bolognese.
One of the things I love most about pasta is that there are so many different shapes, sizes and combinations. One of my all time favourites are Ravioli. When I was young I was fascinated with Ravioli (or pasta pies as I used to call them). I loved the idea that they could be any colour and be filled with any filling. Growing up, my brother and I would make ravioli with our parents using the traditional fillings of spinach and ricotta or mince, but as I’ve gotten older I love to experiment with various flavours.
At the moment I am obsessed with seafood ravioli and this recipe incorporates two of my favourite foods – pasta and seafood. This Ravioli con Polpa di Granchio is adapted from a recipe by one of my culinary idols Antonio Carluccio. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make this dish, as although it’s lots of fun it can be really fiddly. Also the recipe asks for mascarpone cheese! Please under no circumstances should you substitute Mascarpone for cream cheese. It’s a cardinal sin in Italian cooking.
500g Fresh Pasta dough
5 Sage leaves for garnish
450g of freshly boiled crabmeat
60g of mascarpone cheese
1 tsp of brandy
2bs finely chopped fennel leaves (if fennel is unavailable substitute with dill)
salt and pepper
90g of unsalted butter
Large pinch of saffron threads
Remove all the meat from the crab, making sure there are no bits of shell left. Mix the crab with the mascarpone, brandy, fennel leaves and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
To make the ravioli, divide the pasta dough into 4 pieces and roll out one piece of dough in the pasta machine at a time. Leave the remaining pieces of dough covered. When rolling out the pasta dough, don’t go to the highest setting on your pasta machine as the pasta will be too delicate and will get stuck to your work surface and fall apart. I rolled my dough out to a number 7, which worked well. Don’t fret if your sheets aren’t even, it doesn’t have to be perfect and it’s fashionable to be rustic.
Dust your work surface with flour or semolina and lay out a pasta sheet at a time. Using a square cutter cut out squares from the dough. Ravioli are usually square but even a round cookie cutter is fine. Place a heaped teaspoon of filling on half of the squares you have cut out (the other half will be used to seal the top of the ravioli). Dip a finger in some cold water and trace around the edge of the filled pasta squares, then place the empty pasta squares on top and press down the edges with a fork to seal it. Set the ravioli aside on a lightly floured surface while you finish the rest.
Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile melt the butter in a small pan until bubbling then add the saffron. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the ravioli with the butter sauce and the reserved cooking liquid. Serve in warmed plates and garnish with a sage leaf.