The seed for this recipe was sown by Chris after he asked me when I was going to make ravioli using Mongongo nuts. Once again we’re laden with pounds and pounds of nuts, harvested from our house tree in June, shelled by Ruth Mongongo in her village on the Zambezi River, and safely stored away in our big freezer.
Mongongo nuts are soft and oily, not unlike pine nuts, slightly bitter like a Brazil nut, and filled with goodness. Traditionally, indigenous Zambians have harvested them for their oil. Ever since I learned the nuts were edible I’ve developed all sorts of recipes around them. Any excuse to use wild food and I’ll take it. In this instance, I chose to incorporate a Mongongo nut meal into a basil pesto with which to stuff the ravioli. (We are also laden with fresh basil right now.)
Having purchased 10 point-of-lay hens back in June — fulfilling a lifelong wish to have my own chickens — our busy ladies are now producing 10 eggs a day. 10 out of 10! The joy this gives me! The eggs are growing in size; the yolks becoming ever more yellow. There is no longer any excuse for us not to make fresh pasta.
Basil & Mongongo Nut Ravioli with Lemon-infused Beurre Noisette
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 2 large handfuls basil leaves = 1 cup finely chopped basil
- 3 tablespoons Mongongo nut meal (any soft nut could be used as a substitute)
- 50 grams Parmesan cheese, grated = about 1 cup
- 25 grams Mozzarella cheese, grated = about 1/2 cup
- I garlic clove, smashed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 400 grams/3 heaped cups household flour
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
Lemon-infused Beurre Noisette
- 150 grams/5.29 ounces butter
- 3/4 cup Mongongo nuts, dry-roasted and roughly chopped (any soft nut could be used as a substitute)
- Small handful fresh basil, dill and mint, finely chopped
- Fresh lemon juice to taste (I used just over 1 tablespoon)
- Mix together the basil, Mongongo nut meal, cheeses and garlic, and bind together with the egg. Set aside.
- Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl, and make a hole in which to pour the beaten eggs. Combine with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts sticking together and turning into a crumbly dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead until it is well bound and changes color, about 15 minutes. (You will ‘feel’ the dough change as you knead; it starts to sweat as it becomes softer and more malleable.) Cover the ball of dough with a damp tea towel so it doesn’t dry out during the process of rolling the ravioli sheets.
- Clean the pasta maker by running a small piece of dough through the rollers 3-4 times. Discard the dough.
- Break off a handful of pasta dough and run it through the pasta maker at its thickest setting about 3-4 times. When the pasta sheet feels smooth and sturdy to the touch, run it through each subsequent setting until it’s at its thinnest.
- Carefully place one end of the pasta sheet over the ravioli tray, folding the rest under a damp tea towel until ready to use.
- Carefully teaspoon the basil and Mongongo nut pesto into each ravioli square, and then cover with the rest of the pasta sheet. (If you have leftover dough, use it for the next tray of ravioli squares.)
- Press down gently on the ravioli squares with a rolling pin to seal them. Remove the excess dough from the sides of the tray, and then transfer each ravioli square to a floured baking tray.
- Repeat these steps until all the dough and filling have been used up.
- Refrigerate or freeze the ravioli until ready to use (I aways freeze mine overnight).
- Bring a pot of salted water to a roiling boil. Carefully spoon in the ravioli squares and cook, about 4-5 minutes.
- While the ravioli is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan. When the butter starts to froth and turn brown, remove from the heat immediately. (Watch it carefully because butter can burn every easily.) Stir the Mongongo nuts, fresh herbs, and lemon juice into the brown butter, or beurre noisette.
- Lay out the ravioli neatly on a plate, spoon over the lemon-infused beurre noisette, sprinkle with grated parmesan, and serve immediately.