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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Beer braised kale ravioli

Kale is one of the "super foods", so called because of the amount of vitamins and minerals that it contains as well as the fact that it confers an immunity to kryptonite.  We came up with this recipe as a new way to present this delicious veggie and it became a staple in our house from the first time we cooked it.  The filling is an amazing combination of savoury flavours (I could eat it by the bowlful if such things were socially acceptable) but requires a delicate sauce that won't overpower the kale.  I find the dish goes best with a simple white wine sauce or beurre noisette and sage sauce as in the recipe for winter squash ravioli.

Makes about 3 dozen ravioli

1 bunch of kale, washed and tough ribs removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 slices bacon chopped into lardons
2 shallots or 1 cooking onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bottle of beer
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Pasta dough, rolled into thin 6"x12" sheets (this  also works well with store-bought wonton wrappers if you're in a rush)

Place the bacon in a large frying pan and turn the heat to low. Starting the bacon in a cold pan seems to yield crispier results.  In a large pot, saute the garlic and shallots in oil over medium high heat until shallots are translucent and the garlic has softened. Add in kale and beer and stir.  Turn heat to medium low and cover.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is almost gone. Remove lid, turn heat to high and cook off remaining liquid while stirring.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove kale from heat and let cool (it will still be a little wet but should not be swimming in liquid).

In a food processor, add kale, cheese and bacon and blend until smooth.  You may need to do this in batches.  Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings as needed.

If using homemade pasta sheets, evenly space spoonfuls of the filling onto one sheet of dough. Each spoonful should be about two inches apart.  Lay a second sheet of dough over the first and press down around the filling to remove any air pockets. Use a pasta wheel or sharp knife to divide into individual ravioli. Be sure to leave at least a 1 inch border around each ball of filling.

If using wonton wrappers, set out a bowl of water to use as a kind of glue. Lay out several wrappers at a time and spoon the filling into their centres, wipe the edges with a wet finger or basting brush and fold diagonally in half to form little packages. Alternatively, you can use a second wonton wrapper to layer on top of the first, creating a square shape.

You can freeze any leftover filling by doling out spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and then freezing them before putting them in a container, layered between parchment, for longer storage. When you're ready to use them, simply place the frozen filling onto pasta sheets and form, as described above.

To cook, drop a few ravioli at a time into a large pot of boiling, salted water. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. We like to serve these with a sage brown butter or simple garlic, butter, and white wine sauce. When the ravioli begin to float, they're done. Serve with the sauce and a dusting of grated Parmesan. Pair with the same beer you used to cook the kale.

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