Monday, January 31, 2011

Olive Garden - I have an "app" for that!



Cheese 15 bg 050306.jpg
Photo from Wikipedia.com
Last week we celebrated my older daughter's birthday. You and I were in the midst of a "soup-for-a-week" frenzy, so I didn't share the recipe with you. I can't hold back any longer.


The birthday girl saw an advertisement from Olive Garden for their "signature dinner" for the month. And, I have to admit, it sounded amazing - "Artisinal Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli".

The good news is that obviously my daughter has excellent taste. The bad news (....not really)? --she didn't want to go out to eat. She wanted to have it here in our home. So, I donned my thinking cap and created Pear Gorgonzola Ravioli:

Pear Gorgonzola Ravioli
Equipment you will need:
  • 2-inch round biscuit cutter
  • pasta machine (not a necessity, but will certainly make your life easier)
  • food processor
  • pastry brush
     
Pasta
  3 cups flour (plus additional for rolling, shaping, etc.)
  3 large eggs
  about 6 tablespoons water

Place flour and eggs in bowl of food processor. Pulse until combined--mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. While food processor is running, slowly pour in water through feed tube and process until a balls forms. (NOTE: you might not need all of the water--the amounts will depend upon the humidity). Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover and allow to sit for about 20 minutes. Resting the dough is important--it allows the gluten in the flour to relax so that it will be easier to roll out.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time and cover the remaining pieces. If you are using a rolling pin, I hope you took your multi-vitamin this morning. It's a workout, but well worth the effort. If you have a pasta machine (and honestly, I believe they are well worth the investment) follow the manufacturer's instructions and roll the dough to one step less than the thinnest setting. If you are using a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/16 inch thickness. Your goal is to achieve a strip of pasta dough about 6 inches in width and as long as possible. Lay saran wrap over your rolled pasta so that it doesn't dry out.




Filling
  8 ounces cream cheese
  1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  1/2 of a crisp ripe pear, finely diced (see note below)

Combine cheeses until smooth and well-blended (I used my food processor). Stir in pear until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Assemble the ravioli
Lay one strip of pasta on work work surface, one long side facing you. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling 1/2 inch in from the long edge, spaced about 2 inches apart. Using a pastry brush, gently paint a bit of water on the upper edge of the pasta (the part that does NOT have filling on it--just enough to moisten. Bring the far edge of the pasta toward you until the long edges are aligned. You should now have a long "rope" of pasta dough in which are enclosed evenly spaced teaspoons of filling . Gently press the spaces between the filling so that the two layers of pasta dough will stick together.

Using your 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out the ravioli, making sure to center the cutter over the filling. Place the cut ravioli on a slightly floured surface and set aside. Continue rolling, filling, and cutting until all of the pasta dough is used up. Keep the ravioli in a single layer--don't stack them up or allow them to touch.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli (you can cook about 20 ravioli at one time) and turn your heat down so that they gently simmer (you don't want them to boil wildly--they are very delicate). They should be done in about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove with a skimmer, and place in a bowl to keep warm until all ravioli are done.

Serve with your favorite alfredo sauce or simply tossed with melted butter or olive oil. We topped our pasta with freshly grated parmesan and finely chopped walnuts.





NOTE: I used a red anjou pear. A bosc would also work well. You want a pear that has a crisp "apple-y" texture rather than a pear that has a more soft texture.

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