Pea Ravioli as Sweet as Spring

sweet pea ravioliIt’s happened again. I should have known it was going to happen again. It usually happens just this way. I am stuck on peas and can’t get off them.

Yesterday I posted a Pea Pasta dish with mint and lemon zest. I used frozen peas and it was delicious, healthy and easy to make. And what I said is true. I think frozen peas are a terrific vegetable. Especially in the type of hurried situation that I was faced with.

But it is spring. There are lots of reasons to be excited about spring. Fresh sweet peas of all varieties are certainly some of these reasons.

As much as I loved my minty orzo with peas, it did not really scratch that springtime itch I sometimes get. That itch can only be scratched with fresh peas.

And I do not just mean sweet English peas. I mean snow peas and sugar peas. Heck I even mean fava beans (which is technically a legume). But because of the favas bright green color I am making it an honorary pea in this recipe for Sweet Pea Ravioli with Rosemary Cream. Click for recipe.

Click for more notes on Nino Franco "Rustico"Click for more on Nino Franco “Rustico”If this does not satisfy my obsession for peas, nothing will. Because I am using just a few simple ingredients. I am choosing ingredients that blend with and intensify the flavor of fresh spring peas. My goal is a brighter, fresher, truer taste than even fresh-picked peas are capable of all on their own.

To achieve this I am blending three types of peas and adding a bit of earthy depth with fava beans.

My attention and efforts will be focused on the filling for these ravioli. I want that to be the main attraction. Often I like ravioli with a thick, luscious wrapper of fresh pasta. The velvety texture comes from “soft” wheat and eggs and is a part of the allure.

But not today. Today I want nothing to interfere with the soft velvety texture of my sweet pea filling. So I am using wonton wrappers as the barest slipper of a device to carry these peas home.

The sauce will be not much more than melted butter and a bit of chicken stock. Just enough to slick the bottom of the bowl.

I will add a hint of luxury with a drizzle of rosemary-scented cream though. Not enough to be saucy, but the richness is a great counterpoint to the peas and that hint of rosemary will help bridge the rich cream to the bright peas.

Some crisp, smoky bits of crunchy bacon will not only bring a varied texture, but they will lead with an aroma that will help surprise the palate. Because when the brain thinks bacon, the mouth may not be prepared for that sweet fresh punch of pure pea essence that we are peas, sugar snap peas, and snow pease with fava beansgoing to hit it with!

I may be getting carried away in my description here but the lure of fresh peas is a mighty muse.

Rosemary Cream

1/2-cup heavy cream
2 four-inch sprigs of rosemary
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
salt
white pepper
4 slices of bacon

1. In a small saucepan, bring the cream, rosemary and garlic to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer everything for about pureed peas6 minutes. The cream should thicken some. Turn the heat off and let the cream rest at least 1/2 hour.
2. Strain the cream discarding the solids. Season with a little salt and white pepper. Let the cream come to room temperature before serving
3. Brown the bacon until crisp in a pan set over medium heat. Drain the bacon well between sheets of paper towels. When the bacon has cooled, chop it into small bits. Set aside until serving time.

Sweet Pea Ravioli

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 1/2 cups fresh English peas shelled
1-cup sugar snap peas, thinly sliced; snow peas, thinly sliced; and fava beans, shelled; used in any proportion and combination you or pea ravioli wonton wrappersalternatively an additional cup English peas, shelled.
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only
1-cup water
1/3 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper
wonton wrapper about 3 1/2 inches square or round
1 lightly beaten egg
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup chicken broth

1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the shallot; cook stirring occasionally, until translucent, 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until soft, and additional 2-3 minutes.
3. Place the fava beans in a mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. ravioli ready to be cookedWhen the water is cool enough to touch, begin peeling by using your thumbnail to nick a slit in the skin. Pop the fava beans out of their skins by gently pressing each one between your thumb and index finger.
4. Bring the heat to low. Then add all the different peas, (but not the fava beans) along with the parsley leaves to the pan with the water and wine; season with salt and pepper.
5. Simmer the vegetables until the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Let the mixture cool slightly before proceeding.
6. Add the pea mixture and the reserved fava beans to the bowl of a food processor. Puree the mixture.
7. Working in manageable sized batches layout several wonton wrappers in front of you. Brush the edges of each wrapper with some lightly beaten egg. Place about 1 tablespoon of the pea mixture onto the center of each wonton. Top with a dry wonton; pressing them together at the edges to form a good seal. You may trim the raviolis pea ravioli with rosemary creamwith a 3-inch round cookie cutter, or leave un-trimmed for a more rustic appearance.
8. Repeat the process with the remaining puree. You should get about 30 raviolis.
9. Working in batches, cook the ravioli in salted simmering water about 2 minutes. They should rise to the surface when fully cooked. Remove the raviolis from the water and set them aside on a parchment-lined tray. Loosely cover the tray with aluminum foil. Continue until all the raviolis are cooked. You may do this an hour or two ahead, but not too far ahead as the wontons can dry out easily. When it is time to serve the ravioli, melt the butter in a very large skillet set over medium heat. When the butter gets frothy, but before it starts to turn brown, add the chicken broth and the raviolis to the skillet tossing and gently stirring them until well coated and warmed through about 3 minutes. Spoon a little of the sauce into each bowl and top with 4 or 5 raviolis. Garnish with a drizzle of the rosemary cream, additional parsley and some chopped bacon bits.

SERIOUS FUN FOOD

Greg Henry

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