Homemade ravioli.  It doesn’t get much better.  Really.

Another issue of La Cucina Italiana has arrived – and more things are jumping out at me to make.  This particular recipe is actually a combination of several ideas I’ve seen recently – from wildly different places.  The over-sized ravioli idea came from the magazine.  The sauce and filling… well… you know how it is…

The ravioli pasta was actually fresh lasagna sheets.  I thought they would be a bit easier to work with but they’re not as thin as I would have liked them.  They worked, but barely.  And I had to par-cook them.

The original concept is a cheese filling with an egg yolk sitting on top.  They barely simmer, the egg yolk barely cooks, life is beautiful.  Alas, working with thick pasta tends to make egg yolks break and cook hard because of lengthened cooking time.  (Regardless, they tasted awesome!)

Instead of plain cheese, I very finely chopped an assortment of mushrooms, and sauteed them in a bit of butter.  When they were dry, I added a splash of Marsala and a pinch of salt and pepper.

I then added some fresh French goat cheese that was covered in fresh herbs.  It made it nice and creany.

I cut the lasagna sheets in half and par-cooked them for about 5 minutes.  I then added the mushroom filling and made an indentation and added the egg yolk.  I brushed the sides with egg and topped them with another half-sheet of pasta.

I broke three of the four yolks trying to seal the ravioli.  The picture in the magazine shows a much thinner pasta.  Oh well…  live and learn.

I then simmered them in a really large skillet with water for another 7 or 8 minutes.

For the sauce, I used a cup of heavy cream, about 4 ounces of an outrageously good Italian gorgonzola, and a pinch of parsley, salt and pepper.

OMG it was good!

The spelt side dish was very interesting.  I was reading a food blog and came across it…  here it is verbatim from Becks & Posh:

Autumnal Farro Salad with Smokey Roasted Grapes, Walnuts & Mushrooms

Last weekend I threw a casual buffet supper for a few ‘dead-celebrity’ impersonators before we all headed to a Hallowe’en party where being an expired famous person was the raison d’etre. As you all know, celebrities can be a needy bunch and consequently I had to juggle several dietary preferences in a meal where I hoped I could include things that everyone might like. I wanted to make a seasonal salad that would be wholesome and comforting without screaming out “Hey I am a *vegan* salad”.

The inspiration came from a fabulous feast we were invited to last Christmas day at the home of some restaurant-owning friends who had built a wood-fired oven in their back yard. One of the the appetizers they sent out was a wonderful smokey dish of roasted grapes and walnuts. So simple, but delicious, it had been playing on my mind ever since a more recent roasted grape salad at Incanto had reminded me of it. Now that grape season is upon us, I wondered if I could riff on that idea a little and create something inspired by the grape and walnut combination in my far-less-glamorous-than-a-wood-fired-oven electric stove.

Turns out that my gut instinct served me well and I knocked up a dish that I was congratulated on from several quarters. It couldn’t be much simpler to make, here’s how:

Cook up half a pound (or more if you are feeding a larger group), of farro in salted boiling water. I find that using the farro I purchase from Boulette’s larder, it only takes about 10 to 15 minutes before the grain is perfectly al dente. Use your own taste buds to make that judgment. Drain the farro.

In the meantime, heat the oven to 400F and pop a handful, or two of walnuts into a roasting pan. Toast them in the heated oven until you start to smell their nutty aroma, but before they become too deeply browned. Remove the pan from the oven (using gloves of course) and throw in some seedless grapes (I like the green/blush ones), and small whole mushrooms. I favour a mix of shiitake, tree oysters and maitake (which I tear into smaller pieces). Sprinkle with a scant teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika and a couple of bold pinches of Maldon salt before dousing in a decent glug of olive oil. Using a spatula, fold all the ingredients together until everything is evenly coated and well mixed. Pop back into the oven to roast, for 20 about minutes, stirring once half way through.

Once you can smell the mushrooms, the grapes are just on the verge of starting to shrivel and everything else looks golden brown you can remove the pan from the oven and stir in the strained farro grains. Taste and add more salt as necessary (but be careful doing that whilst those grapes and nuts are still piping hot).

I like to serve this salad warm or at room temperature. I am hoping you might like to too…

We did.