Smoked eel and celeriac go very well together, and I’ve already posted about risotto and pasta with this combination. Even more refined are these ravioli stuffed with a creamy filling of celeriac and smoked eel, and served with a creamy pink sauce. These pasta pillows are heavenly and I definitely plan on delighting more of my dinner guests with them. It takes some practice to become proficient in ravioli, but once you’ve got the hang of them, they are not that much work as you only need to serve a small quantity. Even do you’ll probably want more than just a handful of these after you’ve taken the first bite, serving a limited quantity makes them all the more special.
200 grams (7 oz) smoked eel fillets
150 grams (.33 lb) celeriac
1 Tbsp minced celery leaves
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
120 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
80 ml (1/3 cup) tomato puree (passata di pomodoro, sieved tomatoes)
60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
1 Tbsp butter
200 grams (1 1/3 cup) Italian 00 flour
Process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, remembering that ravioli filling should always be slightly over-seasoned. (Since there is raw egg in the filling, you may want to cook a teaspoon of filling quickly in a non-stick pan before tasting it.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, make the sauce. Pour 120 ml (1/2 cup) of heavy cream into a wide shallow pan over low heat, preferably with rounded sides so it will be easier to toss the ravioli in the sauce.
When the water boils, add salt and the ravioli. Regulate the heat so the water keeps boiling, but not too vigorously as you don’t want the ravioli to break. After a couple of minutes, transfer them to the pink sauce with a slotted spoon. Add most of the minced celery leaves as well.
This was amazing with Falesco Ferentano, a slightly oaked full-bodied white from the indigenous grape variety roscetto from the Italian region of Lazio. If you can’t find this wine, a slightly oaked, buttery and fruity chardonnay would also be a great choice.
Ravioli with eggplant and ricotta is a fancy version of the more rustic Sicilian Pasta alla Norma, and perfectly suited for a dinner party. Although the flavors are summery, the ingredients are available year-round so it is ideal to get a bit of summer in your house while it is snowing outside. The flavor of the eggplant is enhanced in a well-known Italian way called “trifolato”: it is sautéed with parsley and garlic. Rather than sautéing the aubergine raw which would make it very oily, I bake the eggplant first so only a minimum amount of oil is needed. The ravioli are served with a tomato sauce and basil, always a great combination with eggplant.