Updated: Apr 17, 2018
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
- Virginia Woolf
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Roseto Valfortore, the place of honey and truffles, my inspiration for this recipe. It may have also inspired my site's name!
My grandparents played a large role in my upbringing. It was through them that I learned about italianità through food. Over sixty years ago, my Nonno and Nonna packed their lives up into a suitcase. They left behind the humble farms and vineyards that gave them sustenance for years, and traded it for a better, more secure future in Canada. Though they could only bring so much with them, they certainly didn't forget to pack their traditions.
When they finally settled in Toronto, the necessity of a garden was dire for my grandmother. Tomatoes, lined in neat rows, took up the majority of their tiny suburban backyard. Among the red gems were bunches of lettuce, peppers, and celery that grew abundantly. In fact, some of my fondest memories are of times spent with my grandmother in her garden after school. We would pick fresh cherries and fat plums of the fruit trees and dance around in the grass underneath the apple tree.
Through my grandparents’ careful garden-tending, I learned what love meant.
I understood the joy when my Nonno picked a ripe purple fig of a skinny and dying branch. I tasted pride when my grandmother wiped the dirt of a fresh cucumber on her apron and handed it to me. The beautiful rose garden also wasn't an exception to my grandparent’s loving touch. Through my Nonno and Nonna, I was given the chance to understand the earliest miracles of life.
Interestingly, my Nonna still placed an importance on honey, dubbing it the cure-all remedy. According to her, just teaspoon could do anything from soothing a nagging cough to healing old wounds.
Likewise, though my grandparents brought many of the old world customs and flavours with them when they made the move, truffle was not one of them. In fact, the first time I ever tasted it was when my family took a trip to Italy in 2013 to visit the southern Pugliese town.
We were all seated around a large wooden table, covered with an orange-checkered tablecloth at one of the few pizzerias in town. Earlier that day I had seen a seen with the word tartufo scrawled across it. I remember asking my Nonno what it meant in Italian. It was a word I had never heard before, a food that I had never tried.
As my Nonno opened his mouth to explain, our waiter hushed him, promising instead to show, rather than explain, what it was.
After a few minutes, the thin lanky man returned, placing what looked to be a small black stone on the table. My parents and I stared at it blankly. I recall my mind going blank, wondering, what the heck it that?
A truffle. Hard and round, with little ridges and bumps all over. Lifting it to my nose, I inhaled the scent of the earth. It was pungent despite its meek size.
My Nonno, seated beside me, shuddered as I passed the truffle to him. It turns out that he had never been a fan of truffles. The smell actually made him gag. Hmm, maybe that was why my Nonna never used it in her cooking?
After the black truffle was passed around it disappeared back into the kitchen, before thin shards of it reappeared on top of a crostini. Bread and truffle. Simple, yet oh so decadent.
Since then, I have only grown to love truffles and their earthy deliciousness! Unfortunately, these cravings are not indulged frequently because - surprise - truffles are expensive!
That being said, whenever I travel abroad I make sure to stock up on truffle pastes and sauces. Though they aren't as good as the real thing, they are the next best thing I can get my hands on!
My love affair with humble honey and the decadent truffle led me to create this recipe. I must say, this dish is unlike anything that my Nonna has ever made in her kitchen. I may have taken some creative liberties both with the unque ingredients and the type of pasta (orecchiette are typically of Puglia), these ravioli are unreal.
I am also glad to report that when I made this recipe for my grandparents, they thought the idea was genius. Maybe when I go back to Roseto Valfortore, I'll take this recipe with me in exchange for more truffles! After all, decadence isn't always cheap.
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Honey and Truffle Ravioli
* Makes 6 servings *
For the stuffing:
500 g ricotta
1/2 cup mushrooms, minced
3 tablespoons truffle (fresh or paste)
1 teaspoon salt and oregano
Black pepper to taste
4 cups flour (I useTipo 00)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup semolina (for dusting)
For the sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup pasta water
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
For the stuffing:
In a bowl, beat the egg until smooth.
Add the ricotta, salt, pepper, oregano, truffles, and mushrooms.
Mix and then set aside until you are ready to fill the ravioli.
For the pasta:
Mix the flour and salt on a wooden board, creating a well at the centre.
Add the eggs and olive oil inside the well, lightly beating with a fork.
Begin folding the flour into the egg mixture until it is fully incorporated. Knead for several minutes until the dough is no longer elastic.
Divide the loaf into 4 pieces. Dust each piece with flour before running it through pasta machine, approximately 3 times until it's about 1/8" thick. Lay the strips of pasta on a flat surface.
Add dollops of filling on the dough sheet, leaving 1" between each scoop.
Place the another sheet of dough over the top to cover and enclose the filling.
Push out the air and cut into squares with a knife. Tip! You can also use different shaped cookie cutters to create unique ravioli.
Seal the ravioli by pressing the edges with a fork.
Place the finished ravioli on a pan dusted with semolina. I usually let mine dry for a few hours before cooking them. It is important that you use semolina as the pasta will start to become gooey underneath if placed directly on a pan or dish.
Cook the pasta 5 to 8 minutes or until they float to the top.
For the sauce:
Melt the butter in a pan with the shallots and garlic.
Pour in the wine and cook to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in cream, honey, and cheese.
Add over top of cooked ravioli.
*** WARNING: This recipe is insanely decadent! Be careful who you make this recipe for, they might fall in love with you! ***