I love the time of year when I can start harvesting things from my own garden to augment the items that I buy at the Farmers Market. Recently, I took advantage of this year’s first chance to do just that when I found a round of goat cheese (flavored with roasted red bell pepper) and a nice bag of mixed peppery greens, including arugula and watercress. The one thing that is very prolific and ready to go in my garden is chives.
I decided that the goat cheese would combine well with some of the things in my pantry and refrigerator to make a good filling for homemade ravioli. I almost always have some variety of pork that I have cured on hand, this time it was pancetta tesa. I sliced a thin piece off and minced it. I also minced half of a red onion and four cremini mushrooms. I sauteed these three ingredients, let them cool and stirred them into the crumbled round of goat cheese. For a little more flavor, I plucked the blossoms off a couple of my chives, separated the individual petals and added them to the rest of the ingredients to complete the filling.
To make my pasta dough, I followed Mark Bittman’s basic egg pasta recipe from How to Cook Everything. Two whole eggs, three egg yolks, one teaspoon of kosher salt and two cups of flour. The one enhancement that I make to Bittman’s recipe is to replace 3/4 of a cup of the listed all purpose flour with semolina flour. Over the years, I have tried various proportions of all purpose to semolina flour and determined that more than 3/4 of a cup results in dough that is too dry and less than 3/4 of a cup doesn’t have enough semolina to give the nutty taste and rough texture that I look for in homemade pasta.
After running the dough through my pasta machine, I dolloped teaspoons of the filling onto sheets of the dough. After laying a second sheet of dough over the mounds of filling, I sealed each ravioli before cutting them apart with my bench scraper and dropping them into my pot of boiling, salted water.
Once the ravioli were done cooking, I served them over a bed of the mixed peppery greens. I had dressed the greens with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, pepper and some grated parmesan cheese. I don’t usually do much regarding garnishes, but on this occasion I felt obligated to use just a few of the chives with their blossoms. The blossoms provided a mildly sweet onion flavor that really complimented the rest of the dish. In a very real way, this was the essence of a late Spring meal.