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Homemade Vegan Ravioli with Vodka Sauce

Ladies and gentlemen, if you pull this one off I believe you graduate to a new level of vegan cooking ability. The dish: ravioli in vodka "cream" sauce. The challenge: 100% vegan, using as many all-natural ingredients as possible. The catch: you must make everything from scratch, including the pasta dough.

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So now that you are ready to take up the guantlet, first have a look at the finished product so you know what you are striving for (click image to enlarge):

I must warn you this is not for the faint of heart if you are in a rush or are not willing to put in the effort, try a different dish - I might suggest Easy Edamame Bisque, or even Aloo Palak.

The easiest part is the filling, so let's start there - you can always make it ahead of time and refrigerate it. It's a delicious, slightly fermented cashew/spinach paste. All you need is your food processor, and:

  • 1 cup Homemade Cashew "Cheese"
  • 9oz bag of pre-washed spinach
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose or Italian seasoning (in addition to what is in the "Cheese" already)

Simply pulse everything in your food processor, adding the spinach in small bunches, until you get a nice green paste. The finished product will be a light green with dark green "specks". Once you are done, just refrigerate it.

To make the dough, you will need:

  • 2 cups semolina flour (durum wheat - if all you find is "enriched", that's not ideal, but okay)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water

In a large bowl, whisk the water, flax seeds, salt, and olive oil together to combine well. If doing by hand, add 1 cup of flour and fold in well, then empty contents of bowl onto a flat surface and knead in the other cup. You want the dough to be slightly sticky but not wet, so knead in additional flour if you need to. If you are using a mixing machine, well, then let the machine do all the work for you (it probably has a "dough" setting).

Next you need to roll it out and cut it. If you have a pasta rolling machine, use that to all it's potential. Unfortunately I don't have one, so I had to do this by hand. Here's what I suggest: first, break the mass of dough up into 5 or 6 pieces. Then, on a floured or greased surface (I sprayed olive oil cooking spray on my granite counter top for this and it worked great), roll out each piece until it's very thin, but not quite transparent. Make sure there are no tears in the dough or this will spell disaster later. If you tear it, fold it in half and roll out again. Once you get it as thin as you can without tearing it or being able to see through it, use a small glass or cookie cutter to make 3? diameter discs. Set aside, and repeat the process for all the remaining dough. Note that the leftover scraps can be folded back into another ball and rolled out again - you should try to use as much of the dough as possible.

To actually assemble the ravioli, take 1 tsp of filling, place it in the center of a disc, then lay another disc on top of it. Press the edges down firmly, then fold them over to make a lip, and press down again. You want to make sure they seal well. Also don't go crazy with the filling - just 1 tsp is all you need. Repeat for all the ravioli - you should get a yield of somewhere between 25 and 35 from this batch (so 50-70 discs total).

If you have limited counter space (like me) and have a partner who is kind enough to help (like Grechen helped me), you can fill the ravioli at the same time you roll the dough!

Once you finish filling the ravioli, place on greased cookie sheets or parchment paper in single layer and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I actually used wax paper but they stuck a little bit, so make sure the surface you put them on is very slick (or greased).

Now it's time to start the sauce - it will take about 1 1/2 hours, so plan ahead. Here's what you need:

  • 28oz organic unsalted tomato juice (we used vintage 2005 variety hand-bottled from Grechen's late grandfather's garden)
  • 1/3 cup vodka (anything half-way decent will do - you are not drinking it straight-up so use Smirnoff instead of Grey Goose or Belvedere if you have it!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 medium onion, very coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dry basil (or fresh basil if you have it, but dry works fine)
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a 2 or 3qt sauce pan over medium flame. Add the onions, 1/2 tsp salt, and stir fry until opaque. Add the brown sugar, combine well, and cook until completely caramelized, stirring frequently, for about 5-10 minutes. Add the basil, thyme, and oregano, stir well, and cook for about 30 seconds. Raise heat to high, add the tomato juice, remaining salt, and bay leaf, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer for at least 45 minutes, allowing it to reduce and thicken a bit. After 45 minutes, add the vodka, stir well, and continue cooking for at least 30 minutes. Finally, add the soy milk, stir well, and cook for 10-15 more minutes. Remove bay leaf. At this point, I suggest you pour the contents into a blender and liquify in order to get a nice puree. The luqified sauce will be thick enough to have good texture, but completely uniform. I had a dinner guest who does not like the texture of onions, so using the blender was mandatory for me at least. Return sauce to sauce pan, cover, and heat over low flame until ready to serve in order to keep it hot.

Now it's time to boil the ravioli. Bring 3 quarts of water plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tsp salt to a boil in a large pot. Add the ravioli in small batches - no more than 5 at a time. Boil for about 3-4 minutes or until they all float on the surface. Remove batch and serve on plate. 5 ravioli is a good amount to serve on each plate, and this is far more robust than you may think. If you are serving children or adults who wish to eat less, serve 3-4 ravioli instead. Once you have plated all the ravioli, pour a ladel-full of warm sauce on top, and serve.

This should yield somewhere between 5 and 8 servings. Be careful not to underestimate the portions - the ravioli are quite hearty - the dough is very robust, and so is the filling.

This was a huge hit for dinner last night. We hosted Grechen's mother, her sister, and her sister's 2 children. It was a belated birthday dinner for Grechen's mother. Everyone really enjoyed everything, even the children. Even though you are using hard liquor in the sauce, the alcohol cooks out completely, so don't be concerned about serving it to children.

Enjoy!

 

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 02/28/2017


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