Have you noticed that egg yolk ravioli almost always seem to come stuffed with ricotta and topped with brown butter and fried sage? Now, don’t get me wrong — I love all those flavors, and we used sage and brown butter in one of our Thanksgiving appetizers — but egg yolk ravioli are so delightful that they really deserve a different treatment occasionally so they don’t become boring and predictable.
In this recipe, I combined two cheeses from the local Nicasio Valley Cheese Company to achieve a consistency similar to ricotta, but a completely different flavor. It’s deeper, sharper, and a bit “funky” rather than bland and inoffensive. (Sorry, ricotta.) The cheeses themselves are so flavorful that there was no need to include herbs or spices in the blend, though you could absolutely do that if you end up using milder cheeses.
The creamy sauce mellows out the cheese’s funk a bit, offering a perfect stepping stone between the richness of the runny yolk and the bite of the cheese. Fennel bulb keeps things from getting too heavy, while the mushrooms and Romanesco add some earthiness. A few fennel fronds on top provide a delicate high note, and also look very pretty.
Use the freshest eggs you can find for this recipe. The yolks are stronger and less likely to break, and also tend to be a more vibrant shade of orangey-yellow, which will beautifully show through the dough.
As always, bold instructions give the broad overview that you can follow if you’re comfortable in the kitchen, while the more detailed steps follow in case you prefer step-by-step instructions.
Egg Yolk Ravioli in Creamy Maitake and Fennel Bulb Sauce with Romanesco and Fennel
- 1 head of Romanesco
- 2 medium fennel bulbs
- 4 ounces maitake mushrooms
- 8 tablespoons butter (divided)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 ounces fromage blanc (substitute ricotta if you can’t find it)
- 4 ounces raclette (substitute gruyere if you can’t find it)
- pasta dough (already rested and ready to use)
- 12 very fresh eggs (consider having a couple more on hand in case some yolks break)
- 4 oz heavy whipping cream
- fennel tops
- Prepare: preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare and roast the Romanesco:
- Cut the Romanesco head carefully into individual florets. Toss gently with enough olive oil to generously coat along with salt and pepper to taste, then arrange in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the Romanesco at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, turning once halfway through, until tender and beginning to develop some color, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Begin your sauce by sautéing the fennel and mushrooms:
- As the Romanesco roasts, halve and thinly slice the 2 fennel bulbs. Carefully separate the 4 ounces of maitake mushrooms.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a pan, then sauté the fennel slices with 1 teaspoon salt until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté for another minute or so, then turn off the heat.
Prepare the water and filling:
- Put a large pot of water on the stove over high heat so it can come to a boil as you prepare the ravioli.
- Make sure the raclette is very cold, straight out of the refrigerator. Grate 4 ounces into a bowl, then add in the 4 ounces of fromage blanc and mix until thoroughly combined. Return to the refrigerator.
Make your ravioli:
- Split your pasta dough in half, then roll out one half until it’s thin, but not paper-thin. (Go for the second-thinnest setting on your pasta machine.) Note: if you’re not familiar with how to work with pasta, check out this link, then come back to continue with the recipe!
- Stamp out 4” circles of dough. You should end up with at least 12. Repeat with the second half of the dough. If you don’t have at least 24 circles, ball up the scraps and roll out again, then stamp out the remainder of the circles you need.
- Lay out 12 of the circles flat. Scoop a bit over a tablespoon of the cheese mixture onto each of the circles, then form it into a nest-like shape just large enough to hold an egg yolk. Make sure there’s room around the outside of the nest.
- Crack and separate one of the eggs, reserving the whites. Very gently place the yolk into one of your prepared nests. Repeat for the other 11 eggs and nests.
- Brush the edges of one of the nest-topped dough circles with egg white, then gently place another dough circle on top. Seal the edges securely, very gently squeezing out any air from inside the raviolo as you do so. Repeat for the other 11 ravioli.
Cook the pasta:
- By now, your water should be boiling. Place 4 ravioli inside (this should cool it enough that it stops boiling), then reduce the heat to maintain the water at just a simmer.
- Cook the ravioli until just done. For me, this is just under two minutes (1:45 to 1:50 seems to be the sweet spot), so use that as a starting point. Transfer onto a dish and cover to keep warm while you repeat the process until all the ravioli are cooked.
Finish the sauce (if you can multitask, do this while the ravioli cook!):
- Turn the heat back on under the sauce, keeping it low. (The sauce should still be warm.)
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and stir into the sauce until just melted. Stir in the heavy whipping cream, then turn off the heat. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Plate the ravioli:
- Put your desired number of ravioli on a plate, and top with a proportionate amount of the creamy mushroom fennel sauce.
- Finish with the roasted Romanesco and a few sprigs of fresh fennel leaves.