Porcini and Aubergines

What a great excitement finding porcini mushrooms in the wood is! My favourite are the small firm ones, with their brown caps standing out from the undergrowth. Picking porcini mushroom is a joy both for my eyes and my palate.

The porcini’s abundance this season has been a delightful inspiration for my cooking. I enjoyed preparing various classical dishes with plenty of porcini, such as homemade tagliatelle, ravioli, risotto, polenta, and scrambled eggs. However, I also became adventurous by exploring unusual combinations to enhance the flavour of such a noble mushroom.

Porcini mushrooms and aubergines make a perfect couple. Both ingredients have a delicate taste and texture and become complementary once together: the mushrooms bring a touch of wildness to the aubergines’ sweetness.

Aubergine Ravioli with Fresh Porcini Sauce

Make this sauce when porcini are so fresh that all they need is salt, olive oil, garlic and rosemary.

For the pasta
200 g white flour, preferably 00
2 large eggs
A pinch of salt

For the filling
2 medium aubergines
100 g ricotta
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt
1 beaten egg

For the sauce
600 g fresh porcini mushroom, cleaned and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
A sprig of rosemary
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan to serve

Serves 4 to 5
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Arrange the aubergines on an oven tray and with a sharp knife make few cuts on the flesh. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  3. Peel the aubergines, arrange the flesh in a bowl and mash it with a fork. Mix in the ricotta, the yolk and season with salt, rosemary and nutmeg. Set aside.
1.     Place flour, salt and eggs into the food processor (use the plastic blades, if you have them) and pulse until you get coarse dough.
2.     Knead the dough for 3 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic.
3.     Wrap the dough with the cling film and leave it to rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
4.     Put a small piece of the dough into a pasta machine and roll it out on the second to the thinnest setting. It is best to use each sheet as soon as it is ready, before starting to use the rest of your dough.
5.     Fold the the strip of pasta in half lengthways to make a crease down the center. Unfold. Using the crease as a guide, brush one half with beaten egg, then place a teaspoonful of the filling at 3 to 4 cm intervals in 1 row along the side of the crease. 

6. Fold the other half of the pasta over the top. With your fingertips, press gently around each mound of filling to seal the dough and to push out any pockets of air. Cut into squares with a pastry wheel.

7.     Place the ravioli on a clean tea towel, making sure they do not touch. The ravioli are now ready to be cooked. Alternatively, leave to dry on the tea towels, turning over occasionally, until the dough has dried out completely.

Mushroom sauce
  1. With a damp cloth, wipe the porcini mushrooms, and scrape the impurities with a paring knife. Cut them right through the middle, and slice them lengthways.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the garlic on medium heat, for 1 minute.
  3. Season the porcini with a sprinkle of salt, and toss for 2 minutes on medium heat. Reduce the heat, and continue sautéing the porcini, stirring frequently until they are tender to the bite, 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the rosemary, and adjust the seasoning.
  5.  Cook the ravioli in simmering salted water, for 4-5 minutes. To drain, scoop out with a slotted spoon and shake of excess of water.
  6. Place in a warmed serving dish, drizzle with oil and toss gently to coat with the porcini sauce.
  7. Serve at once with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

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