Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Walnut "Parmesan Cheese"

The day after Thanksgiving usually means a fridge full of leftovers. I decided to put the extra baked sweet potatoes to good use and make ravioli.

For a vegan version I used an eggless pasta dough, a sage infused olive oil and instead of shaving parmesan over the ravioli, I sprinkled them with a chopped walnut mixture which added a nutty saltiness similar to parmesan cheese.

These were so delicious, I won’t wait until I have leftover sweet potatoes to make them again. And since these freeze well I recommend making several dozen at a time so you’ll have them on hand for a quick and easy weekday lunch or dinner.

2 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil, plus about 3 additional tablespoons
3 cloves garlic

Pasta Ingredients:
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup-1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)

Preparing the sweet potatoes:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 40-50 minutes or until soft.

Cool completely, then peel. This can be done several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Once the potatoes are cool, peel and mash. This can be done by hand or in a food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Walnut "Parmesan Cheese" Topping

Add the chopped walnuts to a pan over low heat. Toss or stir often, being careful no to burn the nuts.

Once the nuts turn a light golden brown and are fragrant, take off the heat, pour in bowl and set aside.

Finely chop three cloves of garlic. Sprinkle with salt- I like to use kosher salt for this.

Using your knife, work the salt into the garlic until you have a paste.

Put about three tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan over low heat. Add the garlic paste. Using a wooden spoon smash the garlic into the oil until most of it dissolves. Be careful not to brown or overcook the garlic.

Turn off the heat and add the nuts. Toss together well. Add more salt if necessary. The final product should be nutty and a bit salty. 

The Pasta:

Mound flour on a large wooden cutting board.

Make a well in the center of the flour.

Add water a little at a time, stirring with a fork until the flour has enough liquid for the dough to come together.

The dough will be sticky, but should not be wet.
Kneed the dough for 3 minutes. Scrape up all the sticky bits then re-flour the board. Continue kneading for 3 more minutes. Dust the board with flour when necessary. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.
Cut the dough in half. Wrap the unused half in a towel to prevent it from drying out.

Press the dough into a rectangle then run it through the widest setting on the pasta maker two or three times. Reduce the setting on the pasta maker and repeat this process. At this point your dough may be quite long, I usually cut it in half and set aside. Dust the dough occasionally to prevent the sticking. Continue reducing the setting on the pasta maker until the dough is 1/8” thick.

Place the sheet of dough on a floured surface and put teaspoons of the filling a few inches apart until you have filled up the sheet of pasta. Brush a bit of water around each mound of filling- you can use your finger to do this.

Roll out another sheet of dough and place on top, press gently around the filling.

Cut out the ravioli. You can use anything to use as a cutter- a cup, biscuit cutter a knife. Make sure each ravioli has a good seal. Set aside on a baking sheet dusted with flour. 
Repeat this until you have used all the dough.

Heat the additional 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add the chopped sage and sprinkle with a few pinches of good salt. Once the sage is a bit crispy and the oil is fragrant, turn off the heat.

Carefully drop the ravioli into gently boiling salted water. Be careful not to over-crowed the ravioli, you may have to do this in several batches, The ravioli will only take a few minutes, once they float to the top, they are done. Remove the ravioli from the water using a slotted spoon. 

Drain well and place in the pan with the sage and olive oil. Gently toss in the pan making sure that the ravioli are coated with the sage oil.
Place the ravioli on a plates then sprinkle with the walnut “parmesan” topping.