Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sweet Potato-Filled Vegan Ravioli

Earlier last month, I ordered an interestingly tasty ravioli dish at Milestone’s. The raviolis were filled with butternut squash and were baked in a spicy tomato sauce. There were toasted pecans, dollops of goat cheese, and ribbons of sweet Thai basil, all of which elevated the plate of ravioli to a different experience. I was pleasantly surprised at how well all the components hit all the right notes. There was textural contrast, a variety of flavours – none of which took the attention away from the butternut squash-filled raviolis. Every bite was surprisingly delightful.

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When I thought about the composition of the dish, it seemed easy to recreate. Homemade pasta, butternut squash or sweet potato filling, spicy tomato sauce, toasted pine nuts or something else, goat cheese, and Thai basil. No problem.

VN and I thought of a menu and picked up some groceries. Since Ontario corn was on sale that week ($2.99 for a dozen), corn was the menu twice:
  • Pot ang, a Cambodian take on grilled corn
  • Sweet potato-filled ravioli
  • Che bap, a tapioca coconut pudding with shaved corn

Since the pasta took the longest to make, we started with that and slowly made the other two dishes. We roughly followed Petite Kitchenesse's recipe for the pasta dough and filling.

Vegan Pasta Dough

2 cups of semolina durum flour

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1¼ cup of water
A zzzuuuup! of olive oil (approximately 1½ tbsp)
A sprinkle of salt

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All the ingredients were combined in a bowl and then kneaded on a lightly floured countertop until soft and elastic. We needed to add a bit more water during the kneading process because the pasta dough was too dry. The pasta dough was covered with a moist towel and set aside to rest.

We prepared the filling next. Three medium sweet potatoes and two small (green) Serrano chili peppers were roasted in the oven. As we waited, we played a bit of NHL 2012. During the intermissions, we made sure to check on the oven contents.

Sweet Potato Filling

3 medium sweet potatoes

2 small Serrano chili peppers
Almond milk, salt, and pepper to taste

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Once they were both cooked through, we peeled them and mashed them together (without the Serrano pepper seeds) with some almond milk, a bit of salt, and black pepper to taste. Since we were going to have coconut milk in the appetizer and dessert, I decided to omit the coconut milk in the filling as well. The filling was smooth, silky and sweet. As for the heat from the Serrano chili peppers, it was in the background and came through at the end. We probably would've been able to use three small Serrano peppers in the filling without making our ears burn. The rice scooper made another appearance.

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VN and KN rolled out the pasta dough onto the countertop and began to make the raviolis. VN got a bit too excited and scooped a bit too much on the dough. It didn’t take much to fix it. The seasoned sweet potato filling was scraped off and then portioned out. This reminds me of the swimming/racing lanes in the Olympics. Mmm… Edible racing lanes!

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It was getting a bit late and we began to get hungry, so I made pot ang as they finished that up. I used the microwave to precook the corn and then finished off the corn in the hot toaster oven. It didn’t taste as a-maize-ing as the BBQ-grilled pot ang, but it still tasted good because the glaze was cooked into the corn.

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Some water was brushed around each of the nuggets of filling before the other piece of pasta dough was placed on top. VN and KM cut the raviolis with a butter knife and then used the back of some forks for the edge work. Half of the raviolis were baked in a casserole dish with canned tomato sauce for about half an hour. The rest of them were frozen on wax paper and then transferred to a Ziplock bag for future use.

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As we waited, I attempted to make a tapioca coconut pudding with shaved corn (aka che bap) off the top of my head. The corn kernels were shaved and then the milk was scraped off with the back of the knife. Shaved kernels taste better because they don't overpower the small tapioca pearls. It's a personal preference.

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Small tapioca pearls were soaked in cold water. I was shocked at how much water they had absorbed. Maybe the water wasn’t very cold. In any case, I used a medium-sized pot, filled the pot halfway with water, and boiled it. Once it began boiling, I drained what little water was left in the bowl of tapioca balls and dumped the soaked tapioca balls. I knew right away that there was too much tapioca pearls. It was too late to fix it. I didn’t feel like shaving more corn and the pot was already full.

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White sugar was added to taste and then once the tapioca pearls were almost fully cooked, the shaved corn was added to the pot to simmer a bit. Coconut milk was conservatively mixed into the pot. If anyone wanted more coconut milk, they could just add more to their own bowl. VN and KN both said they liked eating it cold. So we scooped some into bowls and put them into the fridge to cool off while we ate the main course.

The Ravenous Couple's che bap recipe was similar to the one I made. Before you read the following recipe, I want to remind you all that I'm just estimating the measurements. Here's my untested recipe:

Che bap aka Tapioca Coconut Pudding with Shaved Corn
3 medium ears of corn, shaved and scraped
6 cups of water
1/4 cup of small tapioca pearls
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of coconut milk
Dash of salt

The measurements depend on how much corn/tapioca pearls you want to add. From there, everything is just adjusted to the right proportions. There should be the same amount of shaved corn and tapioca pearls.

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The raviolis felt and tasted fine, although the ravioli pasta was on the thick side. In our rush to make dinner, the ravioli sizes became… generous. Look at this one ravioli in particular. It could've eaten that iPhone if it wanted to. lol

Despite the varied sizes of raviolis and the thick pasta dough, I'd say the homemade recreation was a success! We used mozzarella instead of goat cheese, toasted sunflower seeds instead of pecans or pine nuts (since the pine nuts were expensive at Bulk Barn), and left out the sweet basil.

To end the meal, we finished off with some warm che bap. There was still enough for at least four more bowls, but we were all too full to have seconds.

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