[Savoury candies, really? – Ricotta, basil and black olive caramelle]

ricotta, basil and olive caramelle

I feel a bit like I’m cheating by writing about this recipe. Indeed, I made it a couple of weeks ago; back in the days when I didn’t have a new camera yet.
But I just couldn’t let these lovely easy caramelle (as Jamie Oliver calls them) being forgotten as they are so good.

That’s actually a funny thing that I made them as I tend not to make savoury recipes from cookbooks anymore – just too busy baking!
But as an intern in a pastry shop, I started feeling like making the-other-stuff-you-know-the-one-that-is-not-sweet again. So I jumped on the occasion and opened a favourite book of mine: Cook with Jamie.

pasta machine

I have always enjoyed making pasta and raviolis; might be because of my Italian roots, who knows? I find it very relaxing and immensely satisfying. As obvious as it may sound, I started looking for classic yet elegant raviolis and found these beautiful caramelle.

filling-shaping-the-ravioli.png

Caramelle à la ricotta, au basilic et aux olives noires
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie (p.100)

As you can see from the picture above, these raviolis have the shape of a candy; hence the name! In Italian, caramella means candy or sweetie.
I immediately fell in love with this pasta shape for two reasons: it seemed very easy to form and yet it looked pretty good. Obviously, these also allow me to stay in the sweetness realm ;)

The filling is delicate and fragrant with basil and olives. And I simply adore how the chopped black olives provide a pleasing chunky texture.
As many Jamie’s recipes, this one calls for handfuls, pinches… Though, don’t be afraid – just follow your own instinct and I’m sure things will be beyond fine.

Some people might be afraid to make pasta and ravioli because of the dough, but trust me it is both easy and quick. Just add some egg yolks to a montain of flour and mix until everything is beautifully smooth. You’ll see how satisfying it is to notice the dough changing from mound-of-floury-mess to heavenly-soft-ball. Then you just need to roll the dough with the help of your trusted pasta machine and voilà!

Caramelle à la ricotta, au basilic et aux olives noires

serves 4

for the pasta dough
6 large organic eggs
600g tipo 00 flour (or any other fine flour)

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and mix with a fork.
Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre and pour the eggs over. With the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with flour until everything comes together. It is now time to knead the dough until soft and smooth. To do this, I usually divide the dough in four, mix each ball separately, and then combine the balls into a big one.
Wrap the ball in cling film and put in the fridge for at least half an hour – just enough time to make the filling!

for the filling
250g ricotta cheese
a pinch of grated nutmeg
a small handful of black olives, pitted and chopped
a handfuls of grated parmesan
sea salt and ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Separate the larger basil leaves from the smaller ones (that you will keep in a bowl of cold water for decoration). Finely chop the big basil leaves and put half of them in a bowl (the rest will be used in the sauce – see below) with the ricotta, grated nutmeg, olives and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and add a splash of olive oil.

Roll the pasta dough, one small ball at a time and cut into 10x6cm rectangles Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle and brush lightly with water. Roll up and pinch hard to secure each end. Keep on a flour-dusted tray in the fridge until you need them. Repeat until all the dough/filling is used.

for the sauce
2 knobs of butter
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
400g ripe tomatoes, peeled, halved, deseeded and roughly chopped
balsamic vinegar
a handful of grated parmesan

Gently heat the butter with a splash of olive oil in a saucepan. When the butter starts to foam, add your sliced garlic and the rest for your chopped basil. A minute later, add the tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes, until softened. Taste and season with salt and pepper and a swig of balsamic vinegar.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the caramelle. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they begin to float, then carefully remove them to a colander using a slotted spoon. Add the caramelle to the sauce and gently toss. Sprinkle with a handful of grated parmesan, the shake around and cover for 30 seconds. Divide between plates and sprinkle with the drained basil leaves.