Autumn is here
It’s autumn in Barcelona and although the sun is still trying, the days are getting shorter and the evenings are chilly, especially in the houses with tiles and no heating.
But when I’m sitting on the balcony in the afternoon to catch some last rays of sunshine with a nice glass of wine, I can still imagine it being a long and lazy summer day. Like the ones here in Spain, or one of those endless days in Italy that continues until long after sunset. An ingredient that can help you to keep this feeling, even on a cold autumn night, is the sundried tomato. They taste sweet and full of that summer sunlight. And you don’t need heaps of them to take you back to summer. But maybe also put on a warm sweater, or switch on the heating if you have one…
Blue cheese & sundried tomato ravioli with caramelized onion
What do you do when you love cooking but you live on a university campus without kitchen? In my case, I watched some cooking competitions and fantasized about what I would prepare if I were in the competition. One of the assignments was to put yourself and the beginnings of your cooking on a plate. This brought me back to the time when I was still in high school and to a recipe that was one of the first that I learned to cook. When my parents would not be home for dinner I used to cook tagliatelle with some of my favourite ingredients: blue cheese, prosciutto, and those sundried tomatoes to remind you of summer. I translated it into this ravioli dish that’s perfect for an autumn evening.
Ingredients (for 2 as main course or 3-4 as a starter)
For the pasta dough:
- 200 grams of flour
- 2 eggs
- Table spoon of olive oil
- A pinch of salt
For the ravioli:
- Sundried tomatoes – jar of around 200 gram net
- Gorgonzola dolce – around 150 grams
- Prosciutto (like Parma ham or any other good dry-cured ham) – 75 grams
- Red chilli pepper, seeds removed (optional)
- A large red or pink onion
- Salt and black pepper
- Tablespoon of sugar
- Extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle the flour on a clean surface with a pinch of salt and make a well in the middle of the little mountain you have created. Break the eggs in here and add the olive oil too. Start mixing the eggs with the flour, little by little stirring in more of the flour that surrounds the eggs. Use your hands, or a spoon if you prefer this. Continue kneading until you have a flexible dough that does not stick to your fingers anymore. Add some more flour if it feels too sticky or add some more oil if it feels too dry. After doing it several times you will know the measurements without measuring! Wrap the dough in some glad wrap and place in the fridge to rest.
Start by chopping the onion in thin rings. Melt a good knob of butter in a small pan and add the onion, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the thyme. Leave this on a low heat until the onion softens, around 15 minutes. When the onion is soft, add the sugar and keep it on a low fire to caramelize for another 10 minutes while stirring now and then. The onion is ready when the sugar has turned golden and it looks like a jam.
Break the gorgonzola up in little pieces. Finely cut the sundried tomatoes and mix this well with the cheese. Add black pepper and if you like the finely sliced chilli pepper.
Now the real fun of making the ravioli starts: Roll out the pasta dough until it is very thin and almost see-through. When you blow along the side of the sheet of pasta it should move. If you have a pasta machine, lucky you! This makes it very easy to create thin sheets of pasta. If, like me, you don’t have a pasta machine, just use a rolling pin or an empty wine bottle.
Cut rectangles out of the pasta, twice the size you wish your ravioli to be. Add a teaspoon of filling on one end of the pasta sheet. It takes some practice to learn how much filling you can add while still being able to close them. Fold the other end of the pasta over the filling. You can brush the edges of the pasta, around the filling, with some egg to make the pasta stick better. Use the sides of your thumbs to press all the air out of the ravioli around the filling and have the sides tightly closed. You can cut off the excess pasta with a ravioli cutter. Or just use a normal knife and then use a fork to create a little pattern on the sides. The pattern is not really necessary, but it looks nice and it helps the edges stick together better. Place the finished ravioli on a wooden board dusted with some flour.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, tear or cut up the prosciutto. Heat up a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan and add the prosciutto. Fry this for a few minutes until it’s slightly crispy.
Once the water boils, add the ravioli. It is better to boil the ravioli in small batches, so that they won’t stick to each other and overcrowd the pot. It takes around 4 minutes to boil them.
Take the ravioli out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately put them on a plate. Pour some extra virgin olive oil over the pasta and serve with the caramelized onions and the prosciutto.
When serving this as a main course, it is nice to serve it with a simple green salad to lighten the dish up.