First, from experience, don’t try to do this recipe with three wild and crazy boys at home and guests coming in the evening. It is not relaxing. I wanted to photograph the different stages of the recipe like I see in so many blogs but I was in a frenzied rush as it was. (I am thinking of buying myself one of those video helmets used to record tandem freefalls so I can easily document all my recipes hands free). I never realized how much my boys love cranking up the pasta machine; it would have been great help if the youngest didn’t keep dropping crackers inside the mechanism just to see what would happen. The two oldest made a record breaking (for our house at least) pasta sheet and then draped it over their shoulders like a cape- Super Pasta Man! Here we come to save the day! Oh boy, I will never finish.
Moroccan carrot ravioli with lemon zest and harissa
I love ethnic foods because every recipe has an entire history behind it, that of its people and their lands. I also love fusion because of its creativity and surprise. Here is ethnic fusion, a twist on the famous Moroccan cooked carrot salad. I am still tweaking this recipe but am very happy with the overall flavor. These ravioli have a very dominant flavor and might be better served as an appetizer than a main dish.
1 cup duram wheat semolina*
1 cup hard bread flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon harissa
*All purpose flour should not be used because it is not high enough in gluten, the protein which allows the dough to stretch.
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from one lemon)
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs (helps hold the filling together)
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
2 gloves garlic
1/4 cup coriander, chopped
In a food processor add the flour, eggs and harissa and combine to form a soft, pliable dough, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. There are other techniques which you can see here.
Boil the carrots until soft but not falling apart. Drain carrots and mash them with a fork or a hand held blender. Add bread crumbs, cumin, lemon zest, egg and salt and pepper.
Preparing the pasta
Using a pasta machine, roll out the dough, making two sheets of pasta. The dough needs to be properly kneaded by rolling through the first setting (biggest opening)of the machine several times before continuing to the next level. The pasta sheet is folded in half between each feed when using the same setting. Lay one pasta sheet on the work surface and add a teaspoon of carrot filling on to the pasta sheet, so that there is room around it. Distribute the rest of the filling in this way. Brush area around filling with water and place the second piece of pasta over the first. Press down around the filling to help bind the two sheets together. Using a ravioli cutter or a rolling knife cut around the filling, making sure there is not too much overhand. Arrange on a semolina dusted tray to avoid sticking. There are also ravioli trays which can do this job more easily.
Prepare a large pot of boiling salted water and add the ravioli, once they rise to the top, cook for another 3-4 minutes and then scoop them up with a slotted spoon and drain them in a colander.
In a frying pan add a 1/4 cup of olive oil and minced garlic. Fry until the oil around the garlic begins to bubble but do let them become brown. Add black pepper and salt and pour over ravioli. Add fresh chopped coriander.
Next time I make these I will try sautéing the carrot rounds in olive oil so they lose some moisture and become slightly caramelized (a method I learned from Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cooking).
Traditional Moroccan Carrot Salad
Carrots are native to Afghanistan in Central Asia and it is where the highest number of wild carrots grows. Carrots traveled with the Arab traders to the Middle East and North Africa. The Moors introduced the vegetable to Europe in the 12th century but it would remain unknown to the English for another three hundred years. There are white, red, orange, yellow and even purple varieties of carrots. Two pigments cause color variation, anthocyanin which gives rise to blues and purples and beta -carotene, which gives yellow, orange and red coloring. Carrots were originally red or purple and later pale yellow. The Dutch, attempting to reduce the bitterness in the yellow carrots began experimenting with a mutant yellow variety. They began breeding carrots with increasing shades of orange and this became the national vegetable of the House of Orange, of the Dutch royal family. This patriotic endeavor not only produced sweeter tasting carrots but increased it’s the nutritional value. Carrots in fact have one of the highest levels of vitamin A, a derivative of the orange beta-carotene pigment.
5 carrots, peeled and green parts removed
2 tablespoons, chopped preserved lemon, lemon zest or chopped fresh lemons
1 bunch coriander, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon harissa or ½ teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil or argon oil
Salt and pepper
Boil the carrots until they are tender. Cut the carrots into circles (1/2 cm). Combine the spices, harissa and oil and mix into the carrots until well coated. Add the preserved lemons and chopped coriander and toss to mix. Serve at room temperature.