How to Put Seasonal Ingredients in Your Pasta

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Chef Marco Chirico has been in Brooklyn restaurants his whole life. Son of Joseph Chirico, owner of Marco Polo Ristorante, Marco got his start  in his father’s restaurant in 1983. Over the years, he has developed his career by attending Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, and staying active in the community where he grew up; you might just recognize him as a familiar face at our own events like Brooklyn Uncorked, Edible Escape and Good Beer.

At his Carroll Garden restaurant Enoteca on Court, local, seasonal ingredients play a prominent role on the menu. A lot of what they serve comes from the market alongside some produce (tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs, squash, potatoes and beets) harvested by his father on his family’s 83 acres upstate in Liberty, New York. Not only is using seasonal vegetables cost-efficient, Marco says, but “[when] something is in season, the freshness of it makes the flavor that much better.”

All of his signature drinks and dishes at the restaurant are made from scratch, including the grappa, mozzarella, pizza dough and pasta. At our recent Brooklyn Uncorked event, his Zucchini Farro Ravioli had the crowd coming back for seconds (and maybe thirds). We were smitten and reached out to him to learn how to put seasonal ingredients in our own pasta at home.

If you were looking for a DIY in the kitchen project this summer, this is the one. All you need is a pair of strong hands, some basic ingredients and a rolling pin. Chef Marco acknowledges that making fresh pasta “can be a difficult process, but after a few times you’ll get it down.” You can also make this recipe with any vegetable or herb (he plans on serving a basil pasta later this summer).

For this recipe, two types of pasta dough must be made. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

Zucchini Farro Ravioli

4 to 5 servings

For the farro pasta dough:
2⅓ cups farro flour
1½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water

For the zucchini pasta dough:
4 small zucchini
1 cup water
1 cup semolina flour plus extra for rolling out dough
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 egg yolks

For the ricotta stuffing:
½ cup ricotta
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

For the sauce:
Have a sauce of your choosing on hand when you prepare ravioli. Chef Marco suggests using pesto, a light tomato sauce or garlic and oil sauce with portobello mushrooms.

For farro pasta:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Add the yolks and the oil, knead together, then stream in water until the dough starts to come together (all of the water may not be necessary). This is where the strong hands come in: Knead the ingredients together until the consistency is similar to Silly Putty. This should not take more than a few minutes.
  3. Wrap this dough in plastic wrap, or place in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough sit for at least a half hour so the gluten can relax and be properly stretched later.

For zucchini pasta:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut the skin off of the zucchini using a peeler, then trim the ends off of each side. Cut the zucchini into quarters, then cut thin strips from each quarter. Place zucchini skins and strips on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, while checking at 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are roasted and dry.enoteca on court
  2. Place zucchini in a blender with the 1 cup water until it is blended well and no chunks remain.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the blend with the 5 eggs yolks and set aside.
  4. In a different bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (the 1 cup semolina flour plus the all-purpose flour and salt). Make a crater in the middle of the dry mix and add in zucchini mixture. Push dry ingredients into the center of wet ingredients and mix until wet and dry ingredients are fully incorporated.enoteca on court
  5. As with farro, wrap zucchini dough in plastic wrap or place in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel and let sit. You could also let the dough rest overnight. The dough is good for 2 days.

For ricotta stuffing:

  1. Whip all ingredients for ricotta stuffing together in a bowl with a whisk, then add mixture to a piping bag or plan to just dole out with a spoon. Set aside.

For ravioli:

  1. When the farro dough is ready to be rolled, rub about 1 handful of semolina flour onto your work surface so the dough won’t stick.
  2. Using the rolling pin, roll out the pasta dough until it’s about ⅜ inch thick. Another good measure for thickness is to hold up the pasta up to a window and attempt to see the outline of your hands from the other side.
  3. Make an egg wash using 2 eggs and a pinch of salt.
  4. Measure 3 rows of the pasta dough, 1 to 2 inches wide. Lay these out and then cut the rows crosswise into 1- to 2-inch squares. Using the piping bag or a spoon, place about a teaspoon of the stuffing centered in each square.enoteca on court
  5. Use prepared egg wash from Step 3 to brush the edges of these squares of pasta. This will help seal the sides of the ravioli together.
  6. Now take the zucchini dough and make squares like you did with the farro dough. Gently place those squares on top of the farro squares with the stuffing.
  7. With a fork or other, equally press all sides of each ravioli to seal around its stuffing. Chef Marco does a lot of fancy ravioli shapes as pictured above, but you can simply use your fork to press around the edges of the dough to seal it.
  8. When ready to prepare, bring 4 to 6 quarts salted water to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes in boiling water, then strain.
  9. When done, add a sauce of your choosing and toss with the pasta to warm up the sauce.
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