Basil Crab Ravioli with Saffron Tomato Sauce

Every week I pass up the opportunity to buy fresh lump crab meat, be it at the farmers market, super market or a restaurant. Maybe it’s the ubiquity of crab meat in New Orleans, topping any and all dishes at local restaurants from Drum to Eggs Benedict to Cucumber Soup. I just don’t quite see the appeal. It seems simply like a gilding, a last word, something extra and unnecessary that I don’t really see the point of or care for.

This week I thought I would try something different. A little crab meat to spice up my life. Ok, well not exactly to spice things up, but certainly to bring something new to my usual choice of ingredients and tastes.

Italian flavors, as per usual when pasta is involved, were the first flavors that popped into my mind while brainstorming. What could be better then ricotta, basil, saffron, and anchovies, somehow combined into plump dumpling like ravioli and then steamed to avoid any loss of stuffing or disintegration of the pasta. I came up with the following, a recipe that I am quite proud of and that I would be happy to see on the menu at any Italian restaurant. Even Gourmand loved it, and he doesn’t even like crab meat.

I can’t wait to share it with more people! I’m starting with you.

Basil Crab Ravioli with Saffron Tomato Sauce

For the Ravioli (makes 30 x 3 inch ravioli)

2 cups caputo “00” flour
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a Cuisinart and blend until the consistency of sand. (If you do not own a Cuisinart, simply combine by hand in a bowl, kneading until the dough comes together.) Remove from the Cuisinart, work into a ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for no less then 30 minutes. When you are ready to prepare the ravioli, remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut into quarters. Flour slightly and run through a pasta press, stopping at the second to last setting. Finally lay out  the dough on a floured surface and use a 3″ biscuit cutter to form ravioli one by one. Set each aside on a cookie tray.

For the Tomato Sauce (serves 4-6)

28 oz San Marzano tomatoes,  diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 anchovy filets
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp saffron
1/2 tsp salt or more
2 tbsp olive oil
pepper to taste

In a small measuring cup combine the heavy cream and saffron. Set aside. In a heavy sauce pan heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium high heat. Add the onion and soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook about 2 minutes, or until the anchovies have dissolved. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate and liquid cook away, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and cook until the excess liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Turn heat to low and keep warm until ready to use.

For the Stuffing (serves 4-6)

1 bunch basil (about 1 cup)
1 tsp lemon zest
8 oz ricotta cheese
8-10 oz shredded crab meat
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Blanch the basil and set aside to drain. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, crab, lemon zest and salt. In a cuisinart puree the blanched basil and red pepper flakes until thin. Add the basil to the crab and ricotta mixture and combine thoroughly.

Place about 1 tsp of the crab filling into the center of each ravioli circle. Carefully fold the pasta in half, pushing down on the sides to let out the air. To seal the ravioli and make sure no filling escapes, gently press a fork down on the edges of the dough, pressing both sides together. Set aside until you are ready to cook.

In a steamer cook the pasta for 8 minutes as you would dumplings, flipping after 4 minutes to ensure that both sides cook sufficiently.

Top with the tomato sauce and chopped fresh basil.