Sunday, July 6, 2014

Homemade Crab Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Summer is here!

I'm a huge fan of pasta, and thanks to my wonderful friends and family, my pantry is overflowing with awesome kitchen gadgets. The result of this? Let's make pasta from scratch and put all my new scrapers, mixers and boards to work. It's also hot in Dallas, Texas - and there is something wonderful about walking into the cold seafood department and seeing delicious crab meat on special. It just feels like summer - light and and airy. A pound for $11? Sign me up! For a summer pasta dish - a combination of crab, ricotta, lemon and a light but flavorful tomato sauce makes a fantastic lunch or dinner - if you are thinking to yourself - making the pasta is too much work - it's not - but try it with store bought refrigerated pasta sheets, and skip to that step. Just use a biscuit cutter to cut out  your rounds and you will have the same professional effect. The filling and sauce take about an hour of time! Super easy - and when you are done - you'll be on the porch with the best summer dinner on the block. You could do this with shrimp too! Get the scoop - after the jump.

Start with the Filling - which requires a bit of refrigeration
Crab, Ricotta and Lemon filling
  • 1/2 lb lump crab meat - washed, picked and cleaned for shells
  • 1 T creme fraiche
  • 1/2 c ricotta cheese
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 small basil leaves -finely chopped.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T good quality olive oil
  • 3 green onions sliced thin
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
On medium heat, heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add green onions and stir until the onions start to soften - about 3 minutes. Then, add garlic, and cook for about 1 minute - making sure the garlic doesn't color. Next, add the crab meat and stir for about 3 minutes - until the  mixture is heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, and pepper to taste. Add lemon zest, basil and cayenne and taste again for seasoning. Transfer to a large bowl. Let cool for about 20 minutes, and then add the ricotta cheese and creme fraiche. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. You could make this the night before!

Next - the Pasta
Homemade Pasta
  • 3.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 T olive oil 
  • 1 T water
  • 4-5 eggs - 4 extra large or 5 large
  • 1 tsp salt
This is something fun to do - and you'll surprise yourself with how easy it is! First, build a mound of flour on a wooden board - NOT granite or marble - the cooler temps will detract from the dough's elasticity. Second use your hands to create a well (a hole in the center which can be used to hold the eggs). Next - add eggs to the well.  Add salt. Beat eggs with a fork, being careful not to knock down the sides of the well - the mixture should all stay in the center. add salt and olive oil once eggs are beaten. Start bringing in flour from the sides, beating slowly until a ball of dough forms that can't be fork beaten anymore. Use your hands to incorporate the rest of the flour until a large ball forms. You might not use all the flour. Once the ball is smoothing and only slightly sticky, scrape the board, lightly flour and begin to knead - use your palm to push the dough out, turn, fold back and repeat. Do this for about 15 minutes until the dough is super smooth and has a sheen. Wrap tightly in saran wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minute - an hour.

Next, flour your wooden board again, cut your dough into quarters. Remove filling from fridge. This recipe uses 2 quarters. Working one at a time, roll out your dough until is is extremely thin with a rolling pin. It should be thin enough to see your hand through it when lifted off the board. You are going for a long rectangle. Cut the dough in half from left to right. On the bottom half, use a teaspoon or other consistent measuring device to scoop the filling onto the dough - at least an inch apart. With a small brush, dipped in water, brush water around each round of filling - so you can seal the dough together. Place the top half on top of the bottom half (with the filling) and use your fingers to push the two sheets of dough together around the filling. Push firmly -you don't want any filling to leak out! Then - I like to use a biscuit cutter to make my rounds, cutting around each filling - with a 1 3/4" biscuit cutter. it yields the perfect size ravioli! You can make these early, then cover in saran wrap on a plate or baking sheet.

 When you are ready to make your meal - just finish the sauce and cook the pasta!

Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes - diced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter, unsalted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 T lemon zest
  • 2 T Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 T creme fraiche
  • basil leaves for garnish

In a large stock pot, heat 8 cups water (salted with about 2 T salt)  to a simmer - so it's ready to boil your ravioli. In a large sautepan - heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Much like the filling, add the green onions, cooking until softened - about 1 minute - add the garlic - cook for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes - and cook for about 4 minutes until the juices are flowing. Add the white wine - and lemon zest and let simmer for about 4 minutes until the wine has boiled off. The sauce should start to thicken. Turn heat to lowest, and add creme fraiche. Stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep on lowest heat while you boil the ravioli.

Turn heat up to boil from simmer - should take no time at all. Add ravioli and cook about 5 minutes - maybe a bit longer depending on the size of your ravioli. Add ravioli to sauce and cook about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and top with basil leaves. Enjoy!

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