A platter of large, square ravioli on a table of seven as part a shared meal is dangerous business, particularly if it’s Nino Zoccali’s ravioli. Zoccali’s sweet pea ravioli with gorgonzola cream and burnt butter was part of a shared Italian feast at the Crave Sydney International Food Festival gala dinner. We each got one piece of ravioli: a silken pocket that ebbed on the tongue, secreting the subtlest hint of fresh pea that was coddled in a just rich enough gorgonzola cream sauce. Smack your lips, and it was gone. The platter with two remaining squares sat on the table between myself and my neighbour. With no pretence of table etiquette — we couldn’t offer them around, what if they were accepted? — we each went in for one of the two remaining parcels. Blink your eye, and they were gone.
I lusted after Zoccali’s ravioli often the following day and couldn’t believe my greedy little luck when i saw the dish was on Crave’s Let’s Do Lunch menu at his restaurant, Pendolino. I phoned and made a booking for the very next day. We weren’t disappointed. “It’s the best pasta i’ve had,” my dining partner declared.
Asked why he chose this dish to feature on the Let’s Do Lunch menu, Zoccali said it was a very typical Pendolino dish. Fresh, hand-made pasta is a Pendolino trademark.
“It’s a good example of what we specialise in at Pendolino,” he said. It’s not a regular menu item, but may well make its way onto the a la carte menu given diner’s positive response to the dish.
I thought i’d have to tease the recipe from Zoccali, but he told me it’s in his new book Pasta Artigiana. He was only too happy to share it.
Ravioli di piselli e ricotta con fonduta di gorgonzola e burro fuso
Sweet pea ravioli with gorgonzola cream & burnt butter
Serves 6 (makes approximately 60 ravioli)
135 ml (4½ fl oz) vegetable broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
35 g (¼ oz) salted butter, chopped,
plus extra 100 g (3 oz) for burnt butter
½ small onion, finely diced
3 thyme sprigs, picked
1 garlic clove, finely diced
750 g (1 lb 10 oz) peas in the pod, yielding about 260 g (9 oz) fresh peas
165 g (5¾ oz or ²⁄ ³ cup) fresh ricotta cheese
90 g (3¼ oz or 1 cup) freshly grated
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra, to serve
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
600 g (1 lb 5 oz) fresh egg pasta dough
fine semolina, for dusting
300 ml (10½ fl oz) cream
150 g (5½ oz) gorgonzola cheese, chopped
Heat the vegetable broth in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Heat the extra virgin olive oil and butter in a separate large saucepan over low–medium heat and cook the onion, thyme and garlic until soft.
Add the peas and vegetable broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil quickly. Take off the heat and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse into a rough purée (you still want some texture from the peas).
Allow to cool. Mix with the ricotta cheese and 65 g (2. oz) of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and season with the sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
To make the ravioli, roll the pasta dough into sheets of less than 1 mm (1/ 32 inch) thickness. Brush one sheet lightly with water and place ½ tablespoon measures of the pea mixture roughly 5 cm (2 inches) apart.
Place another sheet on top, pressing around the mixture to remove air bubbles (this step is essential). With a round roller or jagged-edged cutter, cut out square ravioli (or whichever shape you desire), dust lightly with the semolina and place on trays lined with non-stick baking paper.
To make the sauce, pour the cream into a small saucepan and reduce by a third over medium heat. Add the gorgonzola cheese and the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and stir occasionally until the cheeses melt. Make this sauce as close to serving as possible.
For the burnt butter, simply heat the extra butter in a saucepan over medium–high heat until it starts to go dark golden.
To serve, cook the ravioli in abundant salted boiling water until they rise to the surface. Drain and serve with the gorgonzola cream, burnt butter and extra Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Recipe and image from Pasta Artgiana by Nino Zoccali, published by Murdoch Books RRP $49.99