This elegant dish was inspired by something served at Aga in Italy during our recent vacation. First eggplant is smoked, then a broth is made from the eggplant skin and the eggplant pulp is reduced to become a filling for ravioli. The ravioli are then served in the eggplant broth. The smoking adds a nice sweet smokiness to the dish. The combination of the delicate ravioli with a soft flavorful eggplant filling in a fragrant broth is absolutely delicious and quite original. It is a great vegetarian dish, although it is nice to enrich the broth with some chicken broth. Here’s what I did…
For 4 servings as a primo piatto (appetizer size)
2 eggplants, about 700 grams (1.5 lbs)
about 200 grams (1 1/3 cups) Italian 00 flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 celery stalk
30 grams (1 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock, optional
Pierce the eggplants with a fork.
Put the eggplants in a hot stovetop smoker with about two tablespoons of smoking dust…
…until they are soft, about 30 minutes. (The smoker should be closed during the smoking process.)
Allow the smoked eggplants to cool off a bit so you can handle them. Remove the ends.
Take the pulp out of the skins with a spoon and reserve both pulp and skins. Chop the pulp.
Put the skins in a saucepan. Add a chopped onion, a chopped carrot, and a chopped celery stick, and cover with 750 ml (3 cups) water, or 500 ml (2 cups) water, and 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, cover, and allow to simmer for an hour.
After an hour, strain to obtain eggplant broth.
While the broth is simmering, press the eggplant pulp through a foodmill fitted with a coarse sieve…
…and then fit the foodmill with a fine sieve…
…and press it through again…
…to obtain smooth eggplant puree without seeds.
Put the eggplant puree in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then simmer over low heat to reduce it.
When the eggplant puree has become very thick, add 30 grams (1 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, and stir well to incorporate the cheese. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (Ravioli filling should always be seasoned a bit more than you think, as the flavor will be dulled by the pasta that will surround it.) You should end up with about 80 ml (1/3 cup) of eggplant filling.
Put the eggplant filling in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour to allow it to firm up.
Make fresh pasta dough using my instructions, and roll it out as thinly as you can. Use a cookie cutter to cut small circles (about 4 cm or 1.5″) of dough. Put 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the center of a circle…
…and cover it with another circle. Seal the edges carefully, starting from one end and making sure that there is no trapped air in the raviolo.
Repeat until you have used up all of the filling. You should end up with about 28 ravioli. Check out this post for tips and tricks for making perfect ravioli.
Bring the eggplant broth to a boil, then turn off the heat. Pour the eggplant broth into 4 bowls.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the ravioli.
Cook the ravioli for about one minute, then lift them out of the water with a strainer and add them to the bowls with broth.
Serve at once.
We enjoyed this with an oaked Friulano from Friuli. Friulano is a local grape variety from the Italian region of Friuli that maybe difficult to find, especially an oaked version. Another oaked white that is smoky and seems sweet from the new oak (it should not be actually sweet) would also work, like some Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva.
Mexican street corn is a great way to serve corn: cooked on the grill (BBQ) and served with sour cream, chilli pepper, and grated cheese.