basil

This is the rustic approach to ravioli or lasagna, and one that saves time while delivering the same magnificent taste.  Despite the lack of precision in its creation, it always appears lovely and inviting at service.  The Basil Sauce “Mignonette” with a garnish of fresh diced garden tomatoes makes this a gorgeous plate to serve as an appetizer, pasta or main course.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups filling

Ingredients

Basil Pasta Dough, rolled and cut through the width to make small sheets of dough
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
¼ cup Danish Fontina cheese, shredded
¼ cup whole milk Ricotta cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
Sea Salt
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (choose basil, chives, parsley, oregano, marjoram, thyme, or any combination)
Olive oil
Basil Sauce “Mignonette” (recipe below)
Fresh tomatoes, finely chopped, for garnish

Preparation

Prepare a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lightly oil a large cookie sheet.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the four cheeses and garlic.  Add the fresh herbs and gently stir to incorporate throughout.

Place the pasta dough rags into the boiling water and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the pasta is almost cooked through.  Drain.  Separate the “rags.”

Place half the rags on the prepared cookie sheet about a 1/2-inch apart.  Place a small mound of the prepared cheese mixture in the middle of each rag (about 1/4 of the size of the pasta rag).  Take the remaining rags and place one on top of each cheese mound, lightly pressing the rag down and around the mound.  Lightly coat or spray the top of each rag with olive oil and place in the oven.  Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese begins to melt.

Service

Plate 3 filled pasta rags on a warmed dinner plate.  If the cheese is not oozing from in between the pasta sheets, slice through the pasta where the cheese mound is located to allow it to bubble through.  Lightly drizzle the Basil Sauce “Mignonette” over the pasta rags and garnish with fresh diced tomato.  Serve immediately.

Basil Sauce “Mignonette”
Often thought of as strictly an oyster “sauce,” Sauce Mignonette is a French mixture of freshly-ground pepper, shallots, and wine vinegar.  We used an aged balsamic for the Pasta Rags with Four Cheese Filling here, as the irrepressible combination of cheese, basil, and tomatoes is eloquently elevated to a gastronomic experience with the addition of aged balsamic in this sauce.

Makes a generous 1/2 cup

Ingredients

White, Green and Pink peppercorns, combined and coarsely ground to yield a scant 2 tablespoons
2 medium shallots, sliced paper-thin
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar (substitute high-quality white wine, white balsamic, or aged sherry vinegar)
¼ cup gently-packed basil leaves, chopped into a chiffonade

Preparation

Combine all the ingredients in a small glass bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Can be prepared a full day in advance.  The flavors and aromatic quality of the sauce will develop over time, so allow at least a few hours for your sauce to cure.

Recipe and photo by Donna Marie Desfor

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