Tomato Ravioli with Tomato Water and Marinated Lemons
Little bundles of pasta filled with cheesy tomatoes, served with light tomato water and a touch of sweet and savory marinated lemons, a spectacular mix of flavors, is another creative masterpiece by Michelin-star Chef Sergio Vineis of Il Patio restaurant in Piedmont. “For me,” notes Chef Vineis, “the combination of the tomato with its light acidity and the marinated lemon with its intense citrusy flavor are the flavor of summer and the Mediterranean.”
Not only is this dish so delicately delicious that it deserves an award but it has two great chef touches—the tomato water and lemons—that are simple-to-make and can be used in dozens of ways. Tomato water and marinated lemons added to steamed or grilled fish or vegetables, make the ordinary extraordinary. Or puree the marinated lemons with a little olive oil, oregano and black olives and stir into risotto. The ravioli filling and sauce ingredients are also fabulous with dried pasta. Chef Vineis recommends using linguini, tossed with the ravioli filling diluted with the tomato water or some of the cooking water, and topped with the diced marinated lemons and sprinkled with lightly toasted almond slices.
The ravioli dish is especially visually appealing, fitting for a restaurant that is filled with art, like the whimsical stone and rock creations on each table by Michela Rosco, the restaurant’s charming sommelier, and the interesting malleable, supple silicon sculptures of Alessandro Ciffo, an artist born in the nearby town of Biella. There are many reasons the fascinating dishes, food presentations and art will bring you to Il Patio. Another reason is to visit nearby Biella, a town in the foothills of the Alps, renowned for its wool processing, especially cashmere, which has been produced there since the late 17th century. Biella is a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Creative Cities in the Crafts and Folk Art category.
For the marinated lemons:
Combine 2 ½ cups of the sugar and 4 cups water in a saucepan and boil about 15 minutes, until syrupy. Allow to cool. Cut the lemons in quarters and put them into a Mason jar with the remaining ½ cup of sugar and 1/3 cup salt and pour on the sugar syrup. Close the jar and let ferment in a dark, cool place for a month. Cut into thin slices.
For the tomato water:
Bring a half cup of water to boil in a small saucepan. Cut a cross at the base of each of the 5 vine grown tomatoes and put them into a small saucepan with ½ cup water. Bring to a boil and cook for a minute or two. Drain the hot water but leave the tomatoes inside the pan and crush them with a pestle or potato masher. Press the crushed tomatoes in a chinois colander or thin mesh filter over a bowl to obtain the tomato water. Reserve. Discard the pulp and the skin.
For the tomato cream:
Coarsely chop the beefsteak tomatoes and simmer in a covered saucepan with the juice of 1/2 lemon and 2 tablespoons olive oil until very soft, about ½ hour. Puree in a blender. Reserve.
For the ravioli filling:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Blanch the plum tomatoes for a few seconds in boiling water, peel, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Lay them on a silpat lined baking sheet, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on 1 tablespoon sugar and salt to taste. Top with the thyme and bake until semi-dry, about 30 minutes. Sauté them in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic clove until soft and fragrant. Puree with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and ricotta until smooth. Add salt to taste. Reserve.
For pasta dough:
Mix the flours with the egg yolks and a tablespoon of olive oil and knead until well-combined, adding hot water, a few drops at a time, until elastic.
To assemble and serve:
Roll out the dough and cu tinto 1 ½ inch squares. Put the tomato-cheese filling into the center and fold into bundles. Cook them in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and sauté gently in a pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Divide the bundles between the serving plates. Put a dollop of tomato cream on each bundle, top with thinly cut sections of the marinated lemons and finish with the tomato water.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Sergio Vineis of Michelin-star Il Patio restaurant