Sunday, May 24, 2009

Artichoke Ravioli

Artichoke (I)

If it's spring, it's artichoke season. Around here, forty minutes' drive from the "artichoke center of the world" (or at least the US), you can get artichokes more or less year-round. The plants that my parents had years ago would typically bear in late summer, and you can even find some slightly frost-nipped specimens in winter. Spring, however, is when they hit their peak, and when you'll find them in the farmer's markets or (in my case) the CSA box.

Artichokes made a regular appearance at my family's dinner table when I was growing up, and it's easy to see why: easy prep and fun to eat, especially for kids who like finger food and dipping things. Simmer them with a bit of water and lemon juice, a sliced onion, and half a dozen peppercorns, and serve with lemon butter. It's easily done when you have other dishes to focus on, or little ones underfoot, or both.

So easy, and so good, is this bare bones preparation that until this spring, I didn't bother doing much else with artichokes. But now that I'm getting more in each box than I can eat in the week before the next box, I've been expanding my horizons with this giant thistle. As it happens, I've also been making some forays into another frontier: homemade pasta.

Pasta dough

My pasta machine used to be my grandmother's, one of several kitchen items that she passed down to me when she started downsizing her own kitchen a few years ago. The machine is "garantita per 1 anno," but it's probably as old as I am. Older, actually, if the 70s-tastic images are any indication. Either way, it's in great condition and works perfectly.

That is, as perfectly as my clumsy amateur hands allow it to work. I still haven't managed to produce a respectably uniform sheet of pasta, but after three pasta-making sessions, I can now at least manage the process without a second pair of hands. Flour is my friend.

Rolled pasta dough (II)

But back to the artichokes. Naturally the intersection of these two sets, artichokes and pasta, comes in the form of a filled pasta. In this case, that filled pasta is ravioli. If you've ever wanted (or been too anxious) to try making fresh pasta, but wanted to know that the finished product would be worth all the work, this recipe is for you.

What really makes this dish is the nutmeg. Now, I'm a fool for anything with nutmeg in it, but I honestly think it takes the ravioli from "good, but unremarkable" to "wow, this is great, and may I please have a third helping?" Artichokes with parsley and parmesan are lovely, and the nutmeg makes them lovelier.

Don't be put off by the cream. I'm not one for cream-based sauces (alfredo strikes me as a terrible, horrible thing to do to pasta) and I was wary of trusting that part of this recipe, but I'm glad I did. It adds just a touch of richness that I think rounds out the dish nicely, and it helps keep the ravioli from drying out in the oven. Besides, with a third of a cup in the whole dish, you're only getting a tablespoon or two per serving. If you're sold, or if you just want to window shop, head below the jump for the recipe.

Artichoke fillingArtichoke ravioli (II)

Artichoke ravioli (I)

If you expect to be pressed for time on the day that you serve this, by all means make and freeze the ravioli ahead of time. But in the interest of informed meal planning, know that the flavor is best the day the ravioli are made.

This recipe includes instructions for making the pasta dough in the food processor as well as by hand. The food processor speeds up (and cleans up) the process considerably--perhaps not to the point of making it weeknight-friendly, what with the rolling out and all, but it saves a good 20-30 minutes of active work. I think that there are merits in both methods, so I encourage you to try them both as life and leisure permit.

Artichoke Ravioli

Serves 4


For pasta:
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
For filling:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • 6-7 large artichokes, or enough to yield 10 ounces of artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (1 ounce)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For assembly:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup tomato cut in 1/4-inch dice (from 3 plum or 2 small eating tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (1 ounce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Making the dough in a food processor:
  1. Combine flour, eggs, salt, and water in bowl of food processor and process until the mixture barely forms a ball. If the dough is too dry, add water drop by drop until it comes together. The dough should be firm and tacky, but not sticky.
  2. Process the dough for an additional 15 seconds to knead it.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or cover with an inverted bowl. Let it rest for 1 hour.
Making the dough by hand:
  1. Mound the flour on a clean work surface and make a wide, shallow well in the center.
  2. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, salt, and water until combined. Pour mixture into the flour well.
  3. Using your fingers, work the egg mixture in a circular motion and gradually stir in enough flour that the mixture becomes a paste. Be careful not to break the walls of the well.
  4. Knead in the remaining flour to form a dough. If the mixture is too dry, add water drop by drop until the dough comes together. The dough should be firm and tacky, but not sticky.
  5. Knead the dough until it is smooth and very elastic, 10-15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap or an inverted bowl, and let stand at least 1 hour.
Making the filling:
  1. Heat the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just begins to brown, about 6 minutes.
  2. Stir in the artichoke hearts and cook, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
  3. Reserving 3/4 cup of the artichoke mixture in the skillet, transfer the rest of the mixture to the cleaned bowl of the food processor. Add the cheese, parsley, egg yolk, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pulse several times until the mixture is finely chopped.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving platter. Whisk the creme fraiche into the remaining sauce in the skillet, bring just to a boil, and season with salt and pepper.
Forming the ravioli:
  1. Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Form each piece into a rectangle, and cover all but one piece with plastic wrap or an inverted bowl.
  2. Set the rollers of the pasta machine on the widest setting. Dust one piece of dough lightly with flour and put it through the pasta machine. Fold it in half and pass it through again, folded end first. Repeat the process an additional 6-7 times, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking.
  3. Put the rollers on the next setting and pass the dough through them (not folded) 2-3 times. Continue narrowing the rollers and feeding the dough through 2-3 times per setting. The dough is thin enough when you can see the silhouette of your fingers through it, which should be the narrowest or next-to-narrowest setting on your pasta machine.
  4. Place the the sheet of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Drop mounds of 1 1/2 teaspoons filling 1 1/2 inches apart on one half of the sheet.
  5. Brush the egg wash around each mound of filling. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling, and press down firmly but carefully (so as not to tear the dough) around each mound in order to force out air.
  6. Cut the pasta into 3-inch rounds around each mound of filling. Line a large platter or baking sheet with a clean, not-terry-cloth kitchen towel and dust the towel liberally with flour. Place cut ravioli on the towel and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.
  7. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling.
Assembling the dish:
  1. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, and add ravioli. Stir the ravioli to make sure that they don't stick together, and keep the water at a boil until the pasta is just tender, 5-6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked ravioli to a colander.
  3. Meanwhile, place the skillet with reserved artichoke mixture over medium-high heat. Add the chopped tomatoes and water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes soften, 5 minutes.
  4. Lightly butter a shallow 2-quart ceramic or glass baking dish.
  5. Place half of the ravioli in the prepared baking dish. Distribute half of the artichoke mixture over the ravioli, followed by half of the cream and half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  6. Bake the ravioli, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until heated through, the cheese is lightly browned, and the cream bubbles.


  • If you don't want to deal with trimming fresh artichokes for the hearts, you can use one 10-ounce box of frozen artichoke hearts.
  • The dough can be made and kept in one ball, tightly wrapped in plastic and chilled, four hours ahead of time.
  • The ravioli can be formed and kept for four hours, uncooked, chilled and covered in the lined baking pan. They can also be frozen and kept in a sealed plastic bag for about a week.

Artichoke ravioli with tomatoes and cream (II)


Bee said...

The Suitor is so lucky! I wish that I had someone to make this for me . . . it looks absolutely gorgeous. (So do you think homemade pasta is worth the time? Says the person who makes every other thing with flour from scratch.)

I think that artichokes alone are a good reason to move to California, btw. (Also btw, I just discovered a 2nd cousin, from my Shaw family research, who lives in CA. He is a retired professor and serious rose-grower.)

Anne said...

Ha! The Suitor didn't have any of the ravioli. But I did make this for my parents, and they loved it.

I think that homemade pasta is worth the time, but not all of the time. I'm not about to start making all of my own pasta. But it's definitely worth the time for this recipe, and I'm looking forward to finding other recipes that are worth making fresh pasta!

Agreed about the artichokes. I often forget how lucky I am in terms of all the fresh fruits and veggies that grow around here, not least among them the artichokes! It's unremarkable for me to drive past fields and fields of artichoke plants, but in fact it's pretty great.

Anne said...

ps: glad you found another reason to come out and visit CA! Where does this second cousin live?

Anonymous said...

Looks great, I think you may have more luck with your pasta dough if you use one that requires more egg yolks. The dough sounds as though it may be a bit soft...not elastic enough, if that make s sense.
8oz flour
6 egg yolks
1 egg
1.5 t EVOO
1T water or milk/cream

Happy Rolling!!!