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

beet fettuccine with almonds + thyme


beet fettuccine with almonds + thyme

Making your own pasta is a simple process and if you’re willing to put in a little muscle, it does not require special equipment. The star of this recipe is really the pasta dough itself — what you serve it with is up to you. I garnished mine with the same beets that flavor and color the pasta dough, along with a drizzle of olive oil, almonds, thyme, and ricotta cheese. If you wanted to dress things up a bit, a white wine cream sauce would be lovely, as would a simple browned butter with sage. The options are endless.

 

for the pasta dough:

4 medium to large beets, greens removed and peeled [some will be reserved for garnish]

1 egg

2 egg yolks

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

 

for garnish:

extra virgin olive oil

fresh thyme leaves

flaked or coarse salt

sliced almonds, toasted

ricotta cheese

reserved beets from pasta dough

Cut the peeled beets into large chunks and add to a stock pot. Fill with enough water to cover the beets by 1/2 of an inch. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until beets are tender when pierced with a fork, about 40-45 minutes. Remove beets and reserve the water for cooking the pasta later.

Reserve about half of the beets and set aside [these will be used for garnish when plating]. Place the other half in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, add 3/4 cup of the beet puree, egg, egg yolks, and olive oil to a medium bowl. Whisk gently until everything is completely combined.

Add the flour to a large work surface and form a mound. Make a well in the center, and carefully pour the beet and egg mixture into it (making sure it is completely surrounded by the flour). 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, dusting your work surface lightly with flour if it sticks [be careful not to add too much flour, as it will make the dough too dry]. Once your dough is completely smooth, wrap it tightly in plastic and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.

Once rested, divide the dough in four equal parts. Working with one section of dough at a time on a floured, large work surface, roll out the dough until about 1/4-inch thick. Fold in half and repeat 2 more times. Lastly, roll the dough in a large rectangle until as thin as possible [about 2 – 3 millimeters thick]. Make sure to move the dough often while rolling to ensure it does not stick to the work surface, and make sure to keep all dough that is not being rolled covered to prevent it from drying out.  This whole process will take some muscle. Alternatively, if you have one, you can use a pasta roller to roll the dough in the same manner. Cut the rolled dough into strips, about 1/4-inch in width. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook to avoid them drying out. 

To cook the pasta: bring a large stockpot of water and the reserved beet water to a boil over high heat. Season with salt. Add the fettuccine strips and cook until just al dente [about 2 – 3 minutes]. Drain and toss immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

To plate: arrange the pasta on a plate and drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, coarse salt, and toasted almonds. Serve each plate with a spoonful of ricotta cheese and the reserved cooked beets.

Yield: 1 1/2 pounds of dough


tomato + ricotta tart

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.

– Rumi

I’m feeling it all right now: nervousness, excitement, anticipation. In two days, what has long been nothing more than a vision will become my reality. In two days, I will be donning my chef whites and stepping into the kitchens of culinary school.

It’s a huge step, and a decision that I (nor Henry) made lightly. As much as I’d like to portray a romantic image of me leaving my job without hesitation and blindly pursuing my passion, it wouldn’t be honest. It took a lot of self-reflection and contemplation. It took long nights of conversation, of financial planning, and preparation. We made sacrifices, and will continue to make sacrifices for a while to come. But, in the end, it’s all worth it.  

We made this decision, together. Henry believes in me – believes in my passion and what I am capable of. But, more importantly, I believe in myself. I’m proud to say that I am acting on the sentiment I so often share here: I’m casting aside my fear and hesitations and letting my ambition and passion take the driver’s seat. I have a choice, and I’m choosing to be brave.

It’s a new path, and one that I’m sure will have its fair share of bumps and unexpected turns. I’m really not even sure where the path will end up. All I know is that it points in the right direction. I hope you’ll stick along for the ride.


tomato + ricotta tart

A crisp, buttery crust, a melt-in-your-mouth rich filling, and bursting, sweet summer tomatoes — does it get any better than that? This tart would be delicious served with eggs for brunch, with lightly dressed greens for dinner, or even packed up for a picnic lunch.

 

ingredients

prepared pastry dough

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 egg, separated

1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pound tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces [I used cherry tomatoes, but any tomato would do well here]

splash of milk

 

First, prepare the pastry dough

and place in the refrigerator to chill.

After the dough has chilled for at least an hour, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into an 11-inch x 15-inch rectangle (approximately). Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll onto a baker’s quarter sheet pan (9-inch x 13-inch) so that the dough is falling over the edges on all sides. If you don’t have a quarter sheet pan, you can use a half sheet and use a folded up piece of aluminum foil to create a false side in the middle of the long edge so that the pan measures 9-inches x 13-inches. Trim the overhanging excess dough, so that the crust reaches just to the top of the edges of the pan [see note below for a fun use for the excess dough]. Cover the pan lightly in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill.

While the dough chills, prepare the ricotta mixture: in a medium bowl add the ricotta, egg white [reserve the yolk for the egg wash later on], oregano, thyme, garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix to thoroughly combine.

Remove the chilled prepared dough from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the middle of the tart and use a spatula to spread it evenly over the bottom. Arrange the tomato slices over top of the ricotta and garnish the tart with more oregano leaves and flaked or coarse salt.

In a ramekin or small bowl, beat together the reserved egg yolk and splash of milk. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the exposed parts of the crust.

Transfer the tart to the preheated oven and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve. [The tart is delicious served either warm or at room temperature, garnished with more fresh oregano and thyme leaves].

 

for the pastry dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

pinch of salt

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter, and using your hands, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal [the butter pieces should be about the size of large peas]. Add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.

 

*Note: Don’t throw away your pastry dough scraps! Collect and reform them into a disc, and roll out on your floured work surface until about 1/4-inch in thickness. Cut into pieces [triangles, squares, circles, whatever!] and place about 1 – 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the pieces with cinnamon and sugar and transfer to a preheated 400 degree F oven [you can bake them at the same time as the tomato tart]! Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, and cool on wire racks before serving. These are delicious eaten as cookies, or served as a garnish to a bowl of ice cream.