In recent years, there has been an explosion in the gluten free pasta market. You can get more types of noodles than ever before- be it pagota, Fusilli, or penne- made out of brown rice, quinoa, corn, potato, buckwheat, and more. Tinkyada even makes cute shapes of pasta for kids called “Little Dreams.” But one product that is still not widely available to the gluten free community is the glorious fresh pasta, like ravioli, easily available to the gluten consuming crowd. Oh, I know, I know, extraordinary places like The Gluten Free Trading Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that specialize in gluten free foods may have a few packages of gluten free ravioli in their freezer. Deby’s Cafe and Bakery in Denver, Colorado and Sunny Valley Wheat Free in Maple Valley, Washington may also carry gluten free ravioli- but it’s often prohibitively expensive. I just can’t bring myself to pay $10 or more for a package of pasta I’ll eat in a meal, even if I’m lucky to be in the vicinity of a place like this… and the fillings are often limited. (As a note- the ravioli frozen meal at Sunny Valley was actually competitively priced- and yummy too… so if you happen to be in the area… Get some. Who knew a hotel microwave could do so much?) If I order it online, the cost of shipping frozen foods also makes me think I might as well order a pound of consumable gold shavings- in fact, the gold shavings might be cheaper! So, when I saw Bette Hagman’s Bean Flour pasta recipe in her book, “The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy,” I decided to make it my mission to make my own ravioli.
Let’s just be honest. Making pasta is NOT quick, and NOT easy. I bought a wonderful little pasta machine imported from Italy to Japan which I then brought home with me to America for about $20, and while I love the machine, it has its limitations. There is this certain stage in rolling out pasta when you’re trying to get these lumps of dough to roll through the machine and come out as beautiful golden sheets of pasta and the dough comes out in chunks, looking about as pretty as a wadded up and ripped tissue. Serious teeth grinding is unavoidable. But, several rolls later, when it actually looks like pasta and not a failed science project, it feels like culinary alchemy. Who needs elixirs of immortality when you can make gorgeous, malleable sheets of pasta? (Although if you have that elixir, let me know…) I don’t have those newfangled ravioli cutters, or other fancy devices to make a pretty ravioli. So, my pasta tends to look like what it is- stuffed pasta squares. But the filling can make even my elementary ravioli something exciting- and paired with the right sauce, it can only be called… yummy.
In my previous experiments I went with a red tomato sauce over my ravioli, which was good. But, this week I decided that for Spring, I wanted a ravioli that was creamy and seasoned with fresh herbs- in a sauce just as light and creamy as the filling. I decided to go with a creamy, nutty sauce I found in a bargain rack book called “The Complete Guide to making Sauces.” The original recipe called for walnut, but since DH is skeptical at best about that particular ingredient, I used pecans. I also lightened it by using lowfat milk instead of cream. The recipe suggested brushing the cooked ravioli in butter, which added tons of flavor. I tried dribbling the pasta in the sauce and ended up with a saucy pile. It tasted great- but its aesthetic appeal left something to be desired. So, I tried creating a sauce base on the plate, topping it with ravioli and then sprinkling with curls of fresh basil, fresh parmesan, and a little red pepper flakes for visual appeal. Success! We enjoyed our meal with some red wine, and found that 3 or 3 1/2 ravioli per person was just about perfect. DH raved it was “JUST LIKE REAL PASTA,” and gave it a 10/10. (Although it was no southern fried tofu, which is apparently more like an 11/10.) And on my part, despite the serious PAIN it was making it, I remembered why it is that once or twice a year I decide to go all out and make this stuff. Who needs a gluten free gourmet Italian restaurant in your neighborhood when you can make this stuff in your kitchen, exactly to your taste? Not that I’d pass up the chance, but you get the idea. So the next time you feel like creating a labor of love, whether it be for yourself or to share with your GF loved ones, consider putting ravioli on your menu. And don’t forget a nice glass of wine.
Ravioli and Pecan Sauce
Bette Hagman’s Bean Flour Pasta recipe from pg. 262 of GFG Fast & Healthy
1/4 cup butter
Cream and Pecan Sauce
To make filling, combine all ingredients thoroughly.
To make sauce, process all ingredients, adding up to 1/2 cup warm water to thin. (go light on water) Put mixture in bowl and stir in milk and season
Use a pasta machine or roll by hand long rectangles of dough. (Follow Bette Hagman’s instructions if using her recipe)
Place filling in well spaced spoonfuls along one side of the dough, and fold other side of dough over the spoonfulls, cutting between the filling with a pizza cutter or ravioli cutter, making sure to leave enough dough to seal the ravioli on both sides. lightly brush water around the open sides of each individual ravioli and press to seal the ravioli.
Set aside and finish making ravioli.
Melt butter in small saucepan. Boil ravioli in boiling salted water for 5 minutes and drain. Pour pecan sauce on serving plate, dip or brush ravioli in the melted butter, place on top of creamy sauce on plate, and sprinkle Parmesan on top to serve.
SUPER yummy. Unfortunately also SUPER time consuming. But, worth it, at least for special occasions.