roasted carrot + pine nut ravioli

One of the things I look forward to most this time of year are sweet spring carrots. I welcome their delicate sugary snap after a long season of the bitter, trunk-like carrots of winter, and find myself incorporating them into as many meals as I can. While I enjoy them raw, dipped in a creamy hummus or simple vinaigrette, I especially love roasting them, which concentrates their flavor and sweetness. All spring long, I incorporate roasted carrots into our meals — whether on their own, or topped with a bright herb pesto or a nut gremolata for some textural contrast. I serve them over creamy risotto, or purée them into warm, comforting soups. Most recently, I decided to incorporate them into a ravioli filling, which turned out so beautifully, I had to share it here with you.

Making homemade ravioli is definitely time-consuming, but if you do have the time, I really encourage you to try it. If you’ve never made pasta dough before, its simplicity will surprise you. It really is amazing what some flour, egg, and water can so easily become. 

I do hope you give this a try. And as always — please let me know what you think. Hearing from you is what makes it all worth it. 


roasted carrot + pine nut ravioli

If you have the time, homemade ravioli is really worth the time and effort. In this version, the creamy ricotta, toasted pine nuts, and sweet, caramelized carrots work together in perfect harmony to create a filling that is rich in both flavor and texture. This is a perfect dish to make in the spring, when sweet, baby carrots are at their best.

 

for the pasta dough (makes about 8 ounces of dough):

1 cup flour, plus more if needed

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon water, plus more if needed

pinch of salt

semolina flour, for dusting

 

for the carrots + filling

10-12 small carrots, peeled + greens reserved for garnish

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1/4 cup high quality ricotta cheese, homemade if possible

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

for garnish:

1/4 cup ricotta cheese or crème fraîche

extra virgin olive oil

coarsely ground black pepper

reserved carrot greens, roughly chopped

 

First prepare the pasta dough: add the flour to a large work surface and form a mound. Make a well in the center, and carefully pour the egg, olive oil, and water into it (making sure it is completely surrounded by the flour). Add a pinch of salt. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the wet mixture, starting with the inner edges and working outward, until a shaggy, sticky dough starts to form. At this point, knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes, until completely smooth. Your dough should be dry enough that it does not stick to your work surface, but not so dry that it doesn’t form a nice, smooth dough. If you find your dough to be too dry, add more water, a tiny sprinkle at a time. If your dough is too wet, you can also add more flour, again just a sprinkling at a time. Once your dough is completely smooth, wrap it tightly in plastic and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a sheet pan, toss the carrots with the olive oil, brown sugar, and a generous pinch of salt. Roast, turning once halfway through, until the carrots are tender and just beginning to caramelize on the outside, about 20 – 25 minutes (depending on the size of your carrots). Set aside to cool.

Line a plate with paper towels and spread the ricotta over it. Allow to drain for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the toasted pine nuts and process until finely ground. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add 4 of the cooled, roasted carrots to the food processor and process until completely puréed (you should end up with approximately 1/2 cup of purée). Add to the mixing bowl with the pine nuts, along with the drained ricotta cheese and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.

Unwrap the pasta dough and cut into quarters. Lightly dust a large work surface with semolina flour. Starting with the widest setting on a pasta roller, pass the first piece of dough through the rollers. Decrease the width of the rollers by one notch, and roll the dough through again. Continue in this method, decreasing the width by one notch each time, until you reach the second to thinnest setting (number 8 on the Atlas machine). Lay the rolled sheet of dough on top of the semolina flour-dusted surface. Roll the remaining 3 sheets of dough and arrange them side by side over the semolina flour (do not allow them to overlap, as they will stick to each other). 

To form the ravioli, spoon 2 teaspoon mounds of filling on the first sheet of dough, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Using a pastry brush, or your finger, lightly brush around the filling with water to moisten the dough. Carefully lay another sheet of dough on top of the first sheet, using your fingers to press out any air pockets that form around the mounds of filling. Using a small biscuit cutter (about 2 1/2-inches in diameter), cut around the mounds to form small, circular raviolis. Pinch the edges of each ravioli to make sure they are completely sealed. Place the formed raviolis in one layer on a plate dusted with more semolina flour. Repeat this process with the remaining 2 sheets of dough. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Liberally salt the water and add the ravioli. Cook until just tender, about 2 – 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ravioli from the water. 

To serve, spoon a large dollop of ricotta cheese (or crème fraîche) on each plate. Arrange the ravioli and a few of the reserved roasted carrots over top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with coarse ground black pepper and a few chopped carrot greens.

 

yield: approximately 14 – 15 raviolis; serves 2 – 3

garlic scape pizza

I came across these twirling green beauties at my farmer’s market the other day and couldn’t resist taking home a bundle. If you have never cooked with them before [which I hadn’t either] garlic scapes are the stems and unopened flowers of garlic bulbs. They have a sweet, mild garlic flavor, so they are perfect for subtly flavored dishes that would otherwise be overpowered by actual cloves of garlic.

Without any practice cooking with them, and wanting to experience their flavor, I decided to start with the blank canvas of a simple white pizza — nothing more than some cheese, olive oil, and fresh thyme. I have to tell you: it ended up being the right choice. Unlike so many white pizzas that are overwhelmed by the pungency of traditional garlic, this pizza has just the right amount of sweetness and garlic aroma. There are very few ingredients, but each each flavor fulfills a distinct purpose, contributing to the whole. It’s flavorful but not forceful, simple but not plain.

I think I see more garlic scape pizzas in my future.


garlic scape pizza

Garlic scapes add a sweet, mild garlic flavor to this pizza without overpowering its other subtle flavors. It is delicious eaten both hot from the oven, or at room temperature, when the cheese has had a chance to settle into the crust. Fresh, flavorful summer pizza at its finest.

 

1 pound fresh pizza dough, recipe below

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 garlic scapes, ends trimmed

9 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

 

First, prepare the pizza dough

.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the whole garlic scapes and cook, flipping them occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Once the pizza dough had rested and doubled in size, punch it down and transfer to a lightly floured board. Roll [or stretch] the dough into a large rectangle or circle.

Place a large baking sheet [large enough to fit the dough] in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees F [you can use a pizza stone here if you have one]. Once oven is preheated, remove the baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil [be careful, as the oil might splatter when it hits the hot pan]. Roll the dough onto a rolling pin and unroll onto the hot oiled pan. Arrange the slices of mozzarella evenly over the top of the dough, leaving a small border of dough around the edges. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and thyme and arrange the garlic scapes over top. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the exposed edges of dough.

Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly, and crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves for garnish. Transfer to a large wooden board and cut into pieces to serve.

Serves 4.

 

for the pizza dough 

:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water

1 envelope active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the water with the yeast and sugar. Let stand until mixture starts to foam, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. 

Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough it, turning the dough to coat it in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. 

yield: 1 pound of dough