Winter is coming.
It’s the time of year when hearty, heavy meals seem to be in order, when the body craves something to warm it up all the time. It is also the time of year when, frankly, not too much is in proper season.
Gone are the seasonal veggies of summer and waning are the gourds of fall, giving way to the stalwart greens and the bold herbs that often play the role of side or enhancer to other things. So, it’s time to give those greens and herbs some respect. Let them cut the cold and warm you up with flavor, not fat.
For this column, I wanted to share with you a comfort food from across the water -- Leek and Fennel Chicken Ravioli. These wonderful pasta pillows are filled with winter flavors of leek and fennel, big bold root veggies that pack a savory wallop and light ground chicken. Topping them with a sage infused brown butter sauce will make this really feel like a warm winter stew without the heaviness of the usual potatoes.
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To cut time, you can use pre-made dough instead of making it from scratch.
Alex and Eleta Morrison live in Macon and write a food blog, Bungalow Kitchen. Visit their blog at bungalowkitchen.wordpress.com or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUNGALOW KITCHEN RECIPE
Leek and Fennel Chicken Ravioli with Kale and Sage Brown Butter Sauce
1/8 cup fennel seeds
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 bulb garlic
2 stalks kale, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces chopped portabella mushrooms
5 tablespoons butter
12 sage leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE PASTA:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
Begin by cutting the top off of the garlic and wrapping it in foil. Cook at 400 degrees in a toaster or conventional oven for about 20 minutes to roast it. It will be ready when the casings are browned and the cloves can be easily squeezed into a paste. When finished roasting, cut in half.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, pour the flour and salt and make a well for the eggs. Add one egg and start the mixer on low. Once incorporated, add another egg and repeat. Begin pouring the oil one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms into a single ball. Remove from the bowl and knead on a floured surface for about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Cut the leeks into rings by removing the bottom root and slicing in1/4-inch increments up to where the dark green color of the leaves begin. Rinse the rings and dry before sauteing them with the shallot and olive oil. Add the kale, salt and pepper. Saute until browned, about 15 minutes on medium heat.
Remove the aromatics and greens from the pan and place into a food processor.
Brown the chicken together with the fennel seeds until cooked. Place this mixture into the food processor and add half of the roasted garlic and the Parmesan cheese. Mix in the processor until fine. Allow to cool.
Fill a stock pot halfway with water and at least1/4 cup of salt and heat to boiling.
Saute the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of butter and salt.
Cut the pasta dough into discs, about 1 inch thick. Using a pasta machine, roll the dough into long sheets, according to its instructions, until paper thin.
Lay the sheets of pasta on a floured surface and using a ravioli press (or just spacing in 2 inch squares) pile the filling on top of the pasta. Layer the pasta and filling with another layer of pasta and cut the squares.
Boil the ravioli about 5 minutes per batch. Remove from the water and strain.
For the sauce, heat the remaining butter on medium heat. Once it begins to brown, add the chopped sage and remaining roasted garlic.
Plate the dish by topping the pasta with the mushrooms and the sauce. Optionally, add some fresh Parmesan shavings, or garnish with kale.