Asparagus with Goat Cheese Ravioli

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Happy Columbus Day, everyone!

Yes, I did announce my return within my last post but that was just wishful thinking. Greta wasn’t fully recovered yet and as her health rebounded, so did her energy level. Let me tell you: she is one high-spirited dog! It was a good thing that her quarantine ended when it did (August month-end) because our daily walks were doing little to tire her. We have since become regulars at the area’s 4 dog parks. We go to 1 of them daily, weather permitting — although we have been rained upon a few times. Once there, she runs and runs, sometimes with other dogs and other times away from them. No matter. She’s running and that’s all that counts. This “fix” may be short-lived, however. Winter is coming and I’m not sure what I’m going to do once the snow falls. Does Craigslist run ads for second-hand dog sleds?

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Greta running laps in my yard and 1 reason why we visit a dog park daily.

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Now to the business at hand. It is Columbus Day, after all, and I couldn’t let the holiday pass without sharing something from the Kitchens. I may not have shared much lately but I’ve stashed away a number of drafts in varying stages of completion. Best of all, most have photos ready and waiting. All I need do is write an opening, like this one explaining my need to write an opening. Easy peasey!

So, I chose this asparagus ravioli recipe for today’s holiday posting. It may not have been served at my family’s table but it sure has graced my dinner table a number of times. I really enjoy goats milk and it works quite well here with asparagus. Add a bit of prosciutto to the mix and you’ve got a great ravioli suitable for any holiday meal.  Then again, why wait for a holiday?

As I have done in the past, this is the recipe for the ravioli filling only. You can learn how to prepare the ravioli in my post Ravioli dei Bartolini. With it, you’ll be making ravioli like a Bartolini in no time.

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Asparagus with Goat Cheese Ravioli Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 oz (28 g) shallot, diced
  • 3 oz (84 g) prosciutto, chopped
  • 12 oz (340 g) fresh asparagus, chopped
  • 1 oz (28 g) fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten (optional) See Notes
  • 8 oz (224 g) goat cheese
  • 4 oz (112 g) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a sauté pan over med-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to low, add prosciutto and asparagus, and slowly sauté until asparagus is soft and much of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Do not allow prosciutto to burn. Set aside to cool.
  3. Once cooled, add the asparagus mixture to a food processor bowl. Process until chopped. (Alternately, finely chop the ingredients.) Add the basil, egg, Parmigiano, and goat cheeses to the bowl and process until the mixture is well-blended.
  4. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before using to fill ravioli.
  5. See Ravioli dei Bartolini for detailed instructions for making ravioli at home.

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Notes

Although it isn’t necessary, I find that adding an egg to the filling gives it a better consistency when cooked.

For serving, I’ve never used a red sauce to dress these ravioli, preferring a brown butter or cream sauce instead.

I am aware that asparagus season is long gone for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere. Blame Columbus. He should have timed his arrival with fresh asparagus in mind. In any event, although it may be too late for us, this recipe is right on time for our friends in the far South. Buon appetito!

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

What if you don’t like goat cheese but still want to make ravioli with asparagus? Not to worry. I’ve got you covered. Check out my recipe for asparagus ravioli using ricotta instead of goat cheese. Just follow this LINK to see the recipe.

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You Milk The Goat, I Make The Cheese

I came to making my own cheeses by a rather indirect path. Almost 4 years ago, on some cooking show, I watched as labneh was made by straining plain yogurt using coffee filters. I tried it, liked the result and then, following their lead, seasoned it with some herbs. I was so pleased with the end-result that I served it that Thanksgiving and it was well-received. Shortly thereafter, on another sleepless night, I was searching the web looking for more things to do with labneh when I stumbled upon one of the many cheese making websites. Soon I was jumping from site to site, surprised to learn how relatively simple cheese is to create depending, of course, upon the type you’re making — and I’ve been making a few select cheeses ever since.

With the right equipment, supplies, and environment, you can make almost any cheese. Living in the city, however, I cannot get many of the dairy products needed to make some cheeses. Neither do I have, nor am I going to build, a temperature-controlled room to age the hard cheeses that require it. So, right off the bat, I’ve eliminated most types of cheese — and that’s just fine. I’m very satisfied making just goat cheese, cream cheese, ricotta, mascarpone, and mozzarella. Besides, no matter how good the home-made parmesan, I don’t use nearly enough to make it worth my while to make some. (The Bartolini kitchens prefer Pecorino Romano, anyway, but try to find lactating sheep in Chicago.)

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Goat Cheese Prepared with Herbes des Provence

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Recently, when I decided to share my cheese making experiences, I mapped out a game plan starting with the easiest cheese to make. In my opinion, ricotta is that cheese, especially since my recipe is non-traditional, meaning not made from the whey created when mozzarella is made.  (Having made ricotta both ways, I’ll stick with the recipe I posted for reasons of both taste and ease of preparation.) Somewhere along the way I had planned to talk about making butter at home but Celi did such a good job with it that I’ll just send you to her kitchen’s garden for a look-see. So, having already shared the ricotta recipe and with the butter instructions out-of-the-way, that brings us to the next cheese in the schedule: goat cheese.

To make goat cheese, you begin by adding a little rennet to a combination of goat’s milk and cultured buttermilk. That mixture is gently warmed and then set aside to allow the formation of curds. Once formed, the curds are separated from the whey and the resulting goat cheese is ready for use in your favorite recipe, or, once salted and possibly herbed, can be used as a tasty spread. It really is that easy, as you’ll soon see.

Before attempting to make this cheese or any within my recipe collection, please refer to my Cheesy Stuff page. Chock full of cheesy details, it provides information about ingredients, cleaning/sterilizing equipment, spices & seasonings, a few tips, and sources for supplies and information.

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Home-Made Goat Cheese Recipe

yield: about 20 oz. of cheese

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon goat’s milk (never ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 pint (2 cups) cultured buttermilk (no substitutions)
  • 1/2 tablet rennet, dissolved in 1/4 cup distilled water
  • salt (optional, though strongly recommended)
  • herbs (optional)
  • olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the goat’s milk, buttermilk, and rennet into a large, non-reactive pot. Over med-low heat, slowly raise the mixture’s temperature to 180˚, stirring occasionally to prevent its scorching on the pot’s bottom.
  2. Once it has reached 180˚, remove the mixture from the heat, pour it into a large glass bowl, cover it, and set it aside, undisturbed, for about 12 hours. If the curds have not yet formed, leave it undisturbed until they do. It could take as long as another 12 hours (although it has never taken that long for me).
  3. Take some sterilized cheesecloth or a handkerchief and use it to cover the inside of a strainer. Slowly pour the mixture into the cloth-lined strainer. Once most, if not all the liquid (whey) has passed through the strainer, gather the corners of the cloth and tie them together, forming a sack, of sorts, with the curds inside. Hang this sack over a bowl and refrigerate at least overnight.
  4. Remove the goat cheese from the cloth and season with salt, to taste, and whatever herbs and olive oil you prefer.

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Goat Cheese Stuffed Shells

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Variations

You can do many things with goat cheese and much depends upon how well it is drained. If you intend to use it as a spread, do not drain it fully and leave it a little on the moist side or, if you like, add a little olive oil. Season it with your favorite herbs and spices and you’ll have a delicious spread for crostini and crudités, or you may crumble it and use it in salads. Drain it more thoroughly and although you can still season it and use it as was already mentioned, you’ll find that you can, also, use it as you would ricotta in lasagna, cheesecake, or stuffed shells, or on top of pizza or bruschette.

Notes

There are any number of places where you can purchase molds used to press various cheeses into recognizable shapes. If I were to make more kinds of cheese, I would probably buy a few of them. Since I really don’t make enough cheese to warrant purchasing molds, I made do. Using a large can that had been used for pineapple rings, I removed the can’s top & bottom, saving one of the lids, and filled it with goat cheese. I placed a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and covered it with a piece of waxed paper in which I’d punctured some holes in an area a little larger than the size of the can. I placed the cheese-filled can over the holes, replaced the lid, and placed a heavy can on top of the lid, thus applying pressure to force more whey out of the cheese. Everything was refrigerated overnight and the cheese was used later that day to make the stuffed shells pictured above.

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Coming Soon

In the weeks ahead, look for my posts detailing the making of cream cheese, mascarpone, and mozzarella. Speaking of mozzarella, please let me know if you are aware of a nearby water buffalo herd.

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Inspired by Fankhauser’s How to Make Farmer’s Cheese web page.

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Here’s Flat Ruthie Now …

Flat Ruthie visited Chicago and stayed long enough to take part in my 2 day birthday celebration. Click on Day One to join us as we get the party started and to learn the story behind the picture below. The celebration continues on Day Two with a mini-tour of Chi-town and concludes that evening with my birthday dinner.

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