Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Rose veal ragu tortelloni with toasted walnut and rocket pesto

Veal is a newly discovered meat for me. The stories of veal calves being treated terribly put me off a long time, but then I picked up on the rose veal movement and suddenly I could buy it and feel good about it. 

I tweeted the foodie community about where to get hold of some and Heaves Farm Veal messaged me, their Cumbrian product looked perfect and I placed an online order with one of their stockists, Alternative Meats.

My order included shanks for making osso bucco, casseroling steak, escalopes for wiener schnitzel, bones for making stock and some minced veal.

This haul is stashed in the freezer at the minute, the osso bucco has a particular dinner party night and two guests names on it, the wiener schnitzel is for Mathew and I to bring back memories of Vienna, and the braising cut is begging to be turned into a goulash with dumplings - but given the weather hotting up somewhat unexpectedly this might well have to wait.

The veal mince is very good indeed. Its taste is sweet and delicate and the meat tender and juicy - lending itself perfectly to a ragu. I decided to strike out and make my first tortellonis with this dish, and I have been delighted with the results - the tortellonis are very easy to make once you get the hang of them.

Given the clement weather the sweet ragu needed a light dressing to go with it, so I decided to make a slightly different kind of pesto. This one majors on rocket and toasted walnuts and it produces a very nutty and delicious result. 

This will make enough tortelloni's for 2 people to eat over 2 nights. The pesto batch will last a while as you'll only need a bit of it for this dish - just make sure it's covered in extra virgin in the fridge so it doesn't perish - same for the sundried tomatoes.
500g veal mince
400mls pasatta
1 golden onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
One clove of garlic, minced
One glass of white wine
10ish cherry tomatoes, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
2 bags rocket
A big handful fresh basil leaves
40g grated Parmesan
50g walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
A tablespoon pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
250 grams type 00 flour
3 eggs
Sea salt and black pepper

Start with this very simple ragu, and make sure its cold before you make the tortellonis - the next day is best as it gives the flavours enough time to deepen
- In a deep saucepan or sautee pan, fry the onion in some butter and olive oil until translucent and turning gently golden, then add the veal mince and fry on a medium to high heat, you want to leave it as long as you can before turning it so that it gets nice and golden on its edges
- After around 10 minutes of cooking add the garlic clove and cook for a minute or two, then before it catches add the wine and pasatta, the sugar and a generous scrunch of salt, and turn onto a very low heat and let it blip and reduce for an hour or two
- Once its ready let it cool, preferably overnight.

Now on to the pesto and sundried tomatoes
- Preheat your oven to 100 degrees and lay your cut tomatoes cut side up onto a baking sheet, then bake for 2 hours
- Whilst baking pour some olive oil (as much as you think will cover the tomatoes) into a clean jar and add about a quarter of a clove of finely minced garlic, mix together and let it steep until the tomatoes are done
- Once done remove them from the oven and pop straight into the jar, give a generous scrunch of salt and some black pepper and mix carefully so the garlic oil covers all the tomatoes - because they're warm they'll start to absorb the oil and be even more juicy and tasty
- Place the rocket, basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan and walnuts into food processor and blitz until it's all finely chopped, keeping the food processor on drizzle in olive oil until it forms a paste, then decant into a clean jar and top with more olive oil until its totally covered. You can put it straight into the fridge now but you'll need it to have been out for an hour before using it for this dish as otherwise the oil will be too set

Onto the tortelloni's
- In a food processor place your eggs, flour, a tablespoon of extra virgin and a generous scrunch of salt and blitz until the dough comes together
- Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with some more flour for just a minute or two until its no longer sticky and is springing back nicely, then place in a floured bowl and cover with cling film for 15 minutes
- Break the dough into quarters and put a quarter through the pasta machine at a time. Mine has 7 thickness settings and I find these stuffed pastas work best at setting 6. 7 is great but its just too fine and if they get any holes in they just explode in the water - 6 is easier to work with and still feels and tastes great
- Roll your pasta out and lightly dust it before putting it back through the next setting to stop it dragging through, then lay the long sheet in front of you
- Using a sharp knife trim the ragged top and bottom edges off, then cut the pasta into large squares
- Turn the square diagonally towards you, so its like a diamond, dot a teaspoon of the veal mince into the middle of the pasta and then using a pastry brush, brush water around the edges of it and fold it over so the top and bottom edges meet as in my pic, so you now have a triangle in front of you with the flat long edge facing you

Here comes the slightly tricky bit but you'll soon get the hang of it, have a look at the pictures above as I find they are easier to understand the movement than a written description. If you're still struggling then google it and look at lots of different pictures, and failing that you could make simple ravioli instead
- Place your thumbs on the bottom long edge and bring your fingers down around the sides so that the long edges hook round, as in my picture, now fold these edges around your finger a bit like a ring, and carefully brush a bit of water on the edge that will go on the underneath, then stick the edges together
- Place the tortelloni in a floured plate and repeat until you've used all the mixture or as much as you want
- When you're ready to eat bring a pan of salted water to a rolling boil and drop them all in and put the lid back on
- When they all start bobbing to the surface (1-2 minutes and no more) they're done, carefully drain them and then leave them in the colander in the top of your pan
- I plate them by picking them out with two spoons and arranging them on the plate nicely fanned out with their points facing the plate edge (this is of course optional and in no way alters the taste!) once they're on the plates, stir your pesto and start dotting it over them and the plate, then dot on some of your sundried tomatoes, a light grating of Parmesan, a scattering of the crushed walnuts and drizzle of extra virgin
- Eat


  1. Tortellini is now on my things to learn list. x

  2. They're pretty easy to do too, I think I tried perhaps 3 or 4 of them before Id got the hang of it - let me know how you get on x

  3. I do love pasta. And I did never try tortellini. Why? Honestly, I don't know. Good idea!

  4. They're really not that hard to do either and you can stuff them with all sorts! x

  5. That cake is a kind of cheesecake, you combine it the same way as a normal one, but then the mixture isn't baked but fried/boiled in a pan. It's extremaly creamy, suagary and really delicous. We have something similar to tortellini - uszka z grzybami - and we have it with beatroot soupe at Christmas time.

  6. That cake looked fantastic! I like the sound of it very much. What are your uszka z grzybami stuffed with? Do you have them on your blog? x

  7. They are stuffed with mushrooms or with cabbage. Unfortunatelly, I don't - they are made only by my grandmas at christmas time. But if you like things like that, I am sure you've heard of polish pierogi (dumplings?) - dough like for pasta stuffed with qwark and potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, meat or in a sweet version with strawberries or plums. They are great and I'm going to put them on my blog in may or june as I'm going to have plenty of free time ;-)

  8. They sound very tasty! I shall look forward to seeing your posts in June - really love the idea of sweet ones, what a good idea for a dessert x