Monday, July 21, 2008

sweet potato ravioli

L's grandmother sprinkling parmigiano on tagliatelle that she and I had just finished making, in her oh-so-good ragù.

The other day I cooked sweet potato ravioli from scratch. I made the pasta dough, the filling, the sauce, everything. I had made it before, between the end of exams this year and graduation, but just for myself. I had had pumpkin ravioli at Buitoni, where L took me in Bologna for our anniversary, which got me thinking about such things, plus I had a sweet potato that I felt that I should probably use before moving out of my house for the summer. The first go-round, I just put it in a regular canned tomato sauce I had gotten for free after a fundraising spaghetti dinner, and it was gross. So I started experimenting with my own lighter, non-tomato sauces. And it was good.

My sister and her husband came over, so it was a big party, since my grandparents are still with us. Everyone, including my frequently appetite-less grandfather, raved. The pasta itself, which of course didn't have quite the integrity of the pasta that my boyfriend's grandmother taught me to make this summer in Italy, got rather gummy when left to sit for a long period of time filled with sweet potato mash. Perhaps that is why she made me knead it for about twice as long as I kneaded it, and perhaps the wrist-breaking rolling that took the better part of half an hour there was worth more substantial, not-gummy pasta. We shall see. I still intend one day to purchase one of those handy-dandy pasta roller press thingys. As my friend says, perhaps it is worth getting married just to acquire cool kitchen implements (for example: she wants a stand mixer). I'm not so sure about the married part just yet, but a fully stocked kitchen I'm ready to commit to.

The sauce: Sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil, with finely chopped walnuts, white wine, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Ooh, I wonder how it would be with fresh ginger instead of powdered. Didn't think of that before...or ginger mixed into the sweet potatoes! I always garlic things up, which is hard (but definitely possible) to overdo, but perhaps I'll have to start watching myself to be sure not to over-ginger. That is DEFINITELY easy to do. I've been off ginger for a while since an unfortunate incident of eating too much crystallized ginger one time during exams, and getting that sort of vague nausea feeling every time I thought of the stuff. But in other things, or covered in chocolate, still goes. And goes well.

Served the ravioli with flash-boiled and baked asparagus with parmesan cheese (oh, how I wish I could have real parmigiano at Italian prices! where the price per kilo is what a wedge costs here!), Asiago cheese bread (sadly not my own-- I'll have to work on that one), and watermelon.

I wonder if there's anywhere around here to get ethically raised ground beef or pork to try again to make his grandmother's ragù. I may just have to wait til I can get back to school and my beloved hippy co-op grocery store, which sells meat from local farms. And there's Cliff's Meat Market. Yay, local economy. E, the stand-mixer friend, got a ham from someone at the farmer's market-- actually went to the farm and saw his pigs and approved one, and attempted to honey-bake it at home, so as not to disrupt her family's beach tradition of honey-baked ham, but also to satisfy her own ethical standards. I'm proud. I wonder if she'll be able to do that after moving to Chicago.

I would love to have been able to figure out a good wine to serve with it, but my tee-totaler grandparents would probably not have approved. I still don't know much about wine, really, but I think a smooth, dry white of some kind would have gone nicely. Maybe something with hints of vanilla?

Speaking of wine, this moratorium is kind of depressing, because I've been saving a bottle of wine that I bought in France my sophomore year of college at a vineyard to drink after graduation. Since we discovered my grandfather's cancer was way worse about two days before graduation, and life has been hectic and itinerant from then until they moved in about three weeks ago, and when they're there I'm uncomfortable suggesting it, there has been no official chance to celebrate and drink it. Boo.

No comments: