With any new food, especially something foraged, caught, or killed, I think it is important to experience it in two ways.
First, you should experience it in something close to its raw form. Don’t dress it up too much in the first dish. To both fully experience and later fully utilise this food, you need to get to know it for what it is.
But then, once you have gotten to know the food a bit, the second step is to see what it can do. The greatest joy of hunting, fishing, or foraging comes in gathering something in its most raw form and transmuting it into something delicious. While it was once commonplace, in the modern day it feels like alchemy to take a wild food from the field and turn it into a delicious meal.
When you kill an animal and have to break it down and deal with its stink, or even when you walk through the field behind your house and pick a few handfuls of greens from the field, you are interacting with the natural world in a lost way. We all know the joy of a handful of berries plucked from the side of the trail on a summer hike. This itself is a beautiful thing. But the next step, turning something foraged, something wild, into gourmet cuisine, that is where the magic lies.
So, as happy as I was with that first dish of dandelion greens with garlic and red pepper, I was not wholly satisfied. It is time to transform this yard weed into something really spectacular.
Dandelion Ravioli with Chive Butter
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup hot water
½ tsp salt
Prepared dandelion greens
1 cup ricotta
¾ cup grated parmesan
3 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
Begin by preparing the dandelion greens as in my previous recipe. This can be done ahead of time so that the greens have time to cool in the fridge. Once your greens are cool, mix in the ricotta and parmesan. Make sure they are mixed in evenly and add salt and pepper to taste. Have a bite of your filling–it should be absolutely delicious on its own.
Mix the salt and flour together in a large bowl. In a separate, bowl whisk the eggs into the hot water. When well mixed, add to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Once combined, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is all well combined and has a nice texture. The pasta dough should stick only to itself, but be sure also that it is not too dry. Feel free to add a pinch of flour or a splash of water to get the texture right. Once you’ve kneaded it a bit, form a ball, wrap it in plastic, and let it sit on the counter for about an hour.
Once the dough has had a while to rest you can begin to stuff it. Start by chopping a manageable piece off the dough ball. Even if you are using a pasta roller (which is immensely helpful) I suggest rolling the dough out to a manageable thickness before feeding it into the machine. It rolls out much more evenly this way. Follow the instructions of your pasta roller, mine suggested running it through the thickest setting a few times and then only once through your desired thickness. I set mine right in the middle, at setting 5 of 9, and it was too thick. You want the dough to be sturdy enough to handle stuffing, but try not to make it too thick.
Now that your dough is rolled out, you can start filling ravioli. The quantity of filling depends on the size of your ravioli, so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. I used a whiskey glass to cut mine and was filling them with about 1-1.5 tbsp of filling each. I made around 25 ravioli of this size with a bit of filling left over. Spoon out the filling evenly in such a way that you will have enough space to make your cuts. Then dampen the area around the filling and fold the sheet of pasta back on itself. Do your best to get any air pockets out before pressing the two layers of pasta together to make a seal. Once they are sealed, cut them out with a ravioli knife, a glass, a cookie cutter, or whatever else you have that looks like it’ll make a nice, uniform ravioli.
To cook, drop the ravioli into a pot of boiling salted water. They are ready when they begin to float–it shouldn’t take long. Remove them to a colander to drain.
The ravioli can be stored for several hours in the fridge without any harm, just be sure they don’t stick to each other or whatever you store them in. Any excess can be frozen for later use.
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Allow it to cook, stirring infrequently, around 7 minutes until it begins to brown. Once your butter has reached a beautiful brown color, remove from heat and add the chopped chives. Toss and couple times to mix well, then add the ravioli to the pan and toss a few more times to coat. Serve immediately.