While in Croatia we spent a couple of fun packed days with EatIstria who introduced us to some of the food specialities of the region including visits to various wine producers – it was a delight (more on the wine in a later post).
We spent a day foraging for wild herbs and asparagus, then cooking a variety of fish dishes, including an initiation into the art of fresh pasta making. Pina made pasta making seem simple and effortless.
There are specific types of pasta that can be identified as being ‘Croatian’. There’s ‘Fuzi’ from Istria which are little squares rolled into tubes, ‘Njoki’ – potato gnocchi often served with goulash meat stews, the sweet baked ‘strukli’ pasta from Zagreb, ‘Pljukanci’ small hand rolled thin dumplings and ‘Rezanci’ super fine noodles, traditionally hand cut.
So, once home, we couldn’t wait to have a go at making Croatian-style pasta, but of course we had to add our own twist. We decided to make a ravioli based on the popular Croatian Skampi (prawn) Buzara dish. We were bought an authentic Italian pasta machine a few years ago but it’s not really done much hard work – so it was time to dig around under the stairs, drag it out and put us and it to the test!
Here’s our version: Croatian Skampi filled ravioli with a tomato buzara sauce.
- 150g Italian ’00’ pasta flour
- 2 medium eggs, 1 whole and 1 yolk
- 150g raw prawns (remove the heads and shells)
- 2 tablespoons fish stock or white wine
- 1 egg white
- Salt and black pepper
- 400g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 350g raw prawns (remove the heads and shells)
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 500ml fish stock
Stock: fry the prawn shells with a chopped carrot and onion for a few minutes, then add 600ml of hot water and simmer gently for 30mins to make a fish stock. You can use a ready made stock, but this is more resourceful and tastier.
Pasta: mix all the ingredients together by hand in a large bowl or in a food processor with the normal blade. It’s a slow process, the dough will feel too dry and it’s tempting to add water to help it along, but this will weaken the structure of the dough and result in a sloppy pasta that won’t hold the ravioli filling. Stick with it and eventually the dough will become more firm. Once it forms a smooth ball, wrap it in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins to an hour while you get on with making the filling and buzara sauce for the ravioli.
Filling: remove the prawns from their shells. Pan fry for a few minutes in the fish stock or wine until cooked through. Leave to cool, then put them in the food processor with all the filling ingredients and whiz until smooth. Moist rather than wet is the consistency you need. Cover and set aside.
Sauce: heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the onion until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste. Set the sauce aside.
Now the fun begins …
Roll out the pasta dough using a pasta machine working through the roller settings until it is as thin as you dare.
Next lay the long thin pasta sheet out on a floured work surface. Add a teaspoon of skampi filling at regular intervals along half of the pasta sheet.
And then fold the other half of the pasta sheet over, press firmly together around each mound filling to make sure you have squeezed out all the air and ensure a good seal. Using a ravioli stamp cut out your ravioli, making sure the edges are sealed.
Lay out the ravioli on a baking sheet dusting with fine cornmeal whilst you repeat the process until you’ve used all your pasta or filling.
Boil the ravioli in a large pan of salted water for 3-4 minutes until they float to the surface, the prawn filling should be pink and still juicy.
Scoop out the ravioli, and serve with the hot buzara sauce. This makes a delicious light lunch or dinner … you’ll devour the lot in minutes after all that work!