Masterchef Mix Up is a weekly blog feature where I attempt to join in the fun of the Masterchef kitchen- vegan style! Because what’s more fun than ethics and tofu? Not much!
So, since last Sunday night, I’d spent the week planning to conjure up a vegan version of Masterchef contestant Emma’s Chinese 5 spice flourless chocolate cake with chai ice cream. It sounded like enough of a challenge, and more importantly, it sounded super delicious. But then came judge George Calombaris’ ricotta and egg yolk raviolo. Upon seeing the ravioli cut open and runny egg yolk pour out of the pasta, Chadwiko immediately grabbed me and shook me (a little excessively violently), crying ‘what is that? I want it, make that thing!’.
So I did.
My back has only just forgiven me for the suffering I put it through while hunched over my counter making not only pasta, but also vegan ricotta and egg yolks, from scratch. But the satisfaction outweighs that. And the taste? Not bad at all.
Oddly enough, it was the simple burnt butter sauce that concerned me most about this recipe. I know enough about theoretically making one to know that it’s the milk solids in butter that brown- would the same happen with vegan margarine? Almost. The browning isn’t as extensive, but it’s there, and I’ll take that for now. But that’s the boring part of the recipe. I know what you’re wondering- how did that runny egg yolk centre turn out? Well, you tell me.
This looked and tasted so much like the real thing that I was almost a bit put off. But the rich ‘egg yolk’ contrasted beautifully with the light and lemony ricotta- not too heavy, but two was enough for each of us!
The original recipe for this seems to be a closely guarded secret and wasn’t posted online, so I had to improvise and make sure of some great recipes from greater cooks than myself. The fresh pasta recipe is from Bryanna Clark Grogan’s Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, and uses chickpea flour to replicate the richness of eggs. The ricotta is adapted from Veganomicon, and the egg yolk is adapted from the brilliant mind behind the Airy Way.
It’s a mish-mash recipe, but here it is!
Lemon ricotta and ‘egg yolk’ raviolo
- One batch fresh vegan pasta dough.
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves roasted garlic
- 225g extra firm tofu (the firmer the better, this will result in a less moist ricotta- you don’t want your raviolo to be soggy!)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
- Zest of one lemon
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons carrot juice
- 1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 4 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons vegan margarine
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon kala namak (black salt)
- 1/3 cup vegan margarine
- 6 sage leaves
- Combine the cashews, lemon juice, olive oil and roasted garlic in a food processor and process to a smooth paste.
- Crumble in the tofu and process until it reaches a smooth, ricotta-like texture.
- Mix in salt, basil, lemon zest and black pepper. Season to taste.
- Mix together all ingredients except for the kala namak in a small saucepan. Warm on the stove under low heat, stirring constantly until a béchamel-like thickness is reached. Remove from heat.
- Add kala namak to taste. Kala namak is a very sulphuric salt, so it will be pungent! But remember that this will be cut through by the ricotta, so don’t be too shy.
- Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.
- Cut the pasta into eight 10cm rounds. Four should be slightly thicker (these will form the bottom of the ravioli).
- Spoon the ricotta onto the thicker pasta rounds, leaving a couple of centimetres around the edge, and form an indentation in the top.
- Carefully spoon the egg yolk mixture into the indentation, being careful not to spill it over the sides. Sprinke with more kala namak if desired (and if you are/used to be a big fan of eggy flavour!).
- Cover with the thinner, top pasta round and seal the edges. Don’t worry too much about making them pretty, Masterchef showed us that it’s what’s inside that counts!
- Cook the ravioli according to the directions in your pasta recipe.
- Meanwhile, make the buerre noisette. Add the margarine to a saucepan over medium-high heat, turning it down to medium as it melts. Toss in the sage leaves, and keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan as the margarine bubbles. When the bubbling noise suddenly quiets down, the water has evaporated and the margarine should have brown bits and a warm, nutty aroma. Turn off the heat and let the margarine sit to cool.
- Spoon a small amount of the burnt (not) butter sauce into a shallow bowl, top with a raviolo and the crisp sage leaves. Serve with a salad- it doesn’t seem like enough food, but trust me, it’s plenty!