raditional, comforting peasant food is one way to describe
noodles and pastas, no matter the country of origin. The
Germans enjoy spaetzle, the Poles have pierogi, throughout
the Orient there are dozens of types of noodles, and the Italians
have a multitude of pasta shapes, sizes, thicknesses and colors.
Dana Younkin, chef de cuisine at Boulevard Restaurant,
San Francisco, says, “Because people are so familiar and
comfortable with ordering pasta, this gives chefs the latitude to
work in nontraditional variations with edgy recipes while still
making it accessible.”
Stuffed pastas tend to be the single-fold or flat agnolotti variety.
Younkin, however, gives her ravioli a three-dimensional design
by making it into a pyramid. “It’s important for us that our food
be visually appealing,” she says. “This shape affords us an
opportunity to meet that goal.”
The restaurant’s Maine lobster pyramid ravioli, with braised
lobster mushrooms, lobster sabayon and spicy tomato emulsion,
is made with squid ink. “Squid ink lends a sea/earthy flavor
profile, almost umani, adding depth to the pasta, and works
well with the richness of the lobster,” Younkin says. “Plus,
there’s wonderful color contrast with the dark-colored pasta
topped with the red tomato emulsion, and then you cut into the
pyramids, exposing red lobster meat.”
PHOTO CREDIT Opposite: Boulevard Restaurant | Right: Locanda del Lago
Each pyramid is approximately 1 x 1¼ inches, with a little
less than an ounce of stuffing. “The tricky part to this recipe is
properly cooking the ravioli,” Younkin says. “You have a point
where four sheets of pasta meet, compared to traditional ravioli,
where you have two points of pasta in contact. You need to let it
cook a bit longer so the tip is cooked thoroughly.”
BORAGE AND BURRATA
Spinach is one of the more commonly used vegetables in
stuffing tortellini, imparting a bitter, slightly salty flavor.
Gianfranco Minuz, executive chef at Locanda del Lago, Santa
Monica, Calif., prefers to use borage, a subtle herb that exudes
cucumber flavor, in his tortellini with Burrata sauce.
He starts with six pounds of fresh borage, removing the stems
and blanching until wilted and tender, resulting in about a pound
of cooked leaves. The leaves are cooled immediately under
running cold water, squeezed to remove excess water, puréed,
and strained once again to remove any additional moisture. The
purée is then added to ricotta, egg yolk, Parmigiano-Reggiano,
nutmeg, salt and pepper.
“Making the actual tortellini is the most time-consuming step of
the entire process, because it can only be done by hand,” Minuz
says. He takes a round of dough, places an ounce of filling in the
center, folds the dough in half and seals. Holding the half-circle
between thumb and index finger with the flat edge down, he
folds the outer edges around his thumb. Where the dough
overlaps, he gives it a pinch to hold it together. The finished
tortellini is placed on a baking sheet and covered with a dry towel.
At pickup, while the tortellini are cooking in boiling salted
water for 1-2 minutes, Minuz makes the Burrata sauce. He adds
1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of Burrata to a warm
saute pan and melts them together. The pasta is added, tossed
gently and sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano. The plated dish
is garnished with borage flowers and served immediately.
OPPOSITE: This lobster pyramid ravioli with braised lobster mushrooms, lobster
sabayon and spicy tomato emulsion is three-dimensional.
ABOVE: The borage used in this tortellini with Burrata sauce provides a subtle
taste of cucumber.