First make the lentil purée (this tastes best when made earlier): soften the chopped vegetables in olive oil over a very low heat until golden (about 10 minutes), but do not let them brown. Add the ras el hanout and fry for a minute. Cover with water (about twice the volume of the lentils) and bring to a simmer. Add the herbs and cook for 20 minutes to 1 hour, checking regularly to ensure the lentils are al dente. When cooked, strain off any excess water and reserve. Remove the herbs, divide the lentils in two and purée one half. Add to the whole lentils, bring to the boil, set aside and allow to cool. Adjust seasoning to taste and adjust its thickness with the reserved lentil water – it should be denser than soup.
Make the pasta dough: put the eggs, salt, flour and oil into the food processor and blend into a ball of dough. It should be rather stiff, though you can add
Prepare the stuffing: soak the bread in water and squeeze dry. Mince this and all the other stuffing ingredients, except the cocoa nibs, in a food processor until roughly chopped. Break up the cocoa nibs with a rolling pin and mix into the meat. Season to taste.
Either by hand or with a pasta machine, roll the pasta into very thin sheets. Lydia Sodani, a superwoman married to a farmer with a Parmesan herd in Reggio Emilia, showed me how to make ravioli. The texture needs to be silky smooth, and you can only achieve this by repeated rolling. On the machine, I put it through about 6 or 7 times on the widest setting until very smooth. Between each passing, fold the sheet into as neat a rectangle as you can to ensure a regular shape that’s then easy to work on the second smallest to get the final sheet. You may need extra flour to stop the dough sticking. When you have made your sheets, cut into
Cook the ravioli in lots of gently boiling salted water, until the pasta is al dente, about 20 minutes – test by cutting off a bit of border. Some people say 4 minutes, but Lydia always cooked hers for much longer, usually 20, and so do I – it depends how thick the pasta is. Start testing from about 10 minutes. Take out of the pan individually and drain in a colander. Place in a warm frying pan with some olive oil and gently toss until gleaming. Serve 3 per portion on top of a mound of reheated lentil purée. Finish with a drizzle of oil and vinegar.
© 2003 Chantal Coady. All rights reserved.