I’ll be frank with you, it might make me sound like a hypocrite, but I’ll be frank…I don’t celebrate Valentine’s day! There, I said it…. I don’t like all the hullabaloo and fluff and I most certainly don’t like the mush, the reds, the hearts, the roses…and yet, here I am, with a dish as red as can be…filled with hearts!!! Talk about a paradox of nature! 😛
Now the fact that I don’t celebrate V-day has nothing to do with me being insipidly single; I just don’t believe we need a DAY to celebrate love, or show love to our close ones. And why does it have to be a spouse or partner who deserves to be showered with love? I for one want to celebrate this day as a symbol of love for myself… for the girl I was and the woman I am now. For the insecure, grumpy girl who’d cry at the drop of a hot, to the woman who’s dealt with some of life’s biggest blows and has come out a survivor. I love myself, just the way I am, and that is why I celebrate Valentine’s Day 🙂
Having said that, if we’re going to make something symbolic to celebrate a festival, I’d rather do it for the people who love me, unconditionally – my parents of course 🙂 And though I don’t need a special occasion to share my love for them, I thought it would be nice to surprise them with a meal… It also didn’t hurt that I had to curate a meal anyway, for work purposes..
So while I wracked my brains and drove myself crazy, I suddenly realized that love doesn’t always have to be sweet. It can be hot, spicy and as red as beetroot when angered 😉 just like me, hahahaha….
This is the first time I have made Pasta; my friend from Malaysia had gifted me a beautiful Pasta machine a few months back..and this is the first time I got the chance to use it 🙂
It’s fairly easy to use a Pasta machine, but anybody who’s made pasta before will know how much elbow-grease is involved in the whole process. Pasta-making is tricky, and does take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really, really easy. My arms took a workout though, I’ll be honest, and at one point I was certain of failure. But viola, I let the dough rest, as the recipe said, and after a few hours, I had a smooth pasta dough. Rolling it out through the pasta machine was a whole other ball game though…and because I don’t have a ravioli cutter, I used my heart-shaped cookie cutter 🙂 Pretty handy eh? 😉
For the filling, I decided to use Ricotta and some shredded Mozzarella, with spices and just a hint of garlic. The Ravioli itself had some smoky paprika powder, to give it that whiff of spice, and I’ve used beetroot juice to bring out the colour. I made a creamy Peppercorn sauce to complement the ravioli, and as an afterthought, made a sticky Balsamic reduction to finish the dish 🙂 I think I was mostly surprised by how well the balsamic dressing tied the dish together… guess instincts matter eh? 😀
Spicy Ravioli Hearts
For the Ravioli
- All-purpose flour – 2 cups
- Salt – ¼ tsp
- Large eggs – 2
- Egg yolks – 2 (from large eggs, beaten)
- Semolina/Rice flour – for dusting
- Beetroot extract or Red food colouring – 1 tbsp (or as needed… I used 3 tbsp beetroot juice)
- Paprika powder – 1 tsp
For the Filling
- Ricotta cheese – 1 cup, drained
- Mozzarella cheese – ¼ cup, grated
- Red chili flakes – 1 tsp
- Garlic powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – to taste
For the Sauce
- Butter – 2 tbsp
- Garlic – 1 tbsp, minced
- Shallots – ½ cup, diced finely
- Cracked peppercorns – 2 tbsp (or black pepper powder)
- Cream – 1 cup
- Plain flour – 1 tbsp
- Salt – to taste
- Stock or Water – 1 and ½ cups
For Garnish –
- Balsamic Vinegar – 4 tbsp
- Honey – 2 tbsp
- Parsley/Coriander – finely chopped, 1 tsp
- In a bowl, mix the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, a pinch of salt, garlic powder, chili flakes and mix well. Keep aside until use.
- For the sauce, heat a large saucepan with butter.
- When it melts, add the minced garlic and shallots, and when well-browned, add the flour.
- Mix, let it turn golden, and add the cream and salt. Whisk well and add the stock.
- When the sauce starts bubbling, add the cracked peppercorns/black pepper, and let the sauce reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Keep aside.
- Put flour, beetroot juice or food colour and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs and yolks, and mix with hands or a wooden spoon for a minute or so, until the dough comes together. (Alternately, you can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.)
- If the dough seems dry or crumbly, add 1 or 2 tbsp of cold water, but just enough to keep the dough together.
- Turn out dough out onto a board or floured surface, and knead to form a ball.
- Flatten the dough ball to a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic, and let rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour (several hours is fine. You can refrigerate it overnight too, but thaw it well before moving on to the next step)
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Knead each piece until smooth, roll with a rolling pin or pasta machine as thinly as possible (but not paper-thin).
- Lay out the dough on a floured sheet pan/surface, and fold in half, horizontally.
- Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and cut out hearts; separate the hearts.
- Fill one half of the hearts with stuffing, and gently run a watered finger along the sides, place the other half on top and seal the seams with fingers or fork.
- Once all the raviolis are done, heat a pot of water with a generous amount of salt.
- Cook the raviolis for 4 to 5 mins, or until al dente.
- Pick out with a slotted spoon, and drain well on paper towels.
- Heat a saucepan with the balsamic vinegar, keeping flame on medium.
- Add the honey and whisk it in well.
- Let it simmer, stirring constantly, on a medium-high heat until the sauce reduces to a sticky consistency (will take 7 to 8 mins).
- Switch off flame, let it cool to room temp.
- In another pan, add a blob of butter, and quickly toss the raviolis in it for about 2 minutes. (this step is optional)
- Serve raviolis with a generous helping of sauce.
- Drizzle balsamic reduction over pasta just before serving, and sprinkle some finely chopped parsley.