There’s been a glut of jungle avocados in the market of late. I’m certainly not complaining, especially as the local variety is huge, more flavourful, though less creamy than the standard Hass. Folk here eat them as a dessert, sprinkled with cocoa and mashed with condensed milk,but I’m savoury all the way. I must admit that I do like them flash-fried, which was discovered by accident in an attempt to make an unripe avocado more palatable. I hasten to add that the experiment failed, but a brief sauté does add a pleasant nutty taste.
If you’ve never had a cooked avocado the seedless pocket is the perfect vessel for all manner of fillings, especially Roquefort or even an egg. O.K., maybe I’ve to wait a couple more years before it comes back into fashion, but stuffed canapés were all the rage in the eighties. I’ve unfortunately inherited my mum’s urge to remove the yolk from a hardboiled egg, mash it up with mayonnaise and cram it back in. We even stuffed quail eggs and cherry tomatoes – once. A Christmas or two ago we had that classic starter of prawn-cocktail stuffed avocados. A fine pairing it was, seafood sauce aside, but more importantly, what better stuffing for ravioli is there to frustrate the arbiter of Italian cucinare conservatore?
With the spice of chilli and lemon zest, these fresh tasting ravioli are best served glistening with a barely-there sauce made from the reduced stock of the prawn heads, white wine and a knob of butter to emulsify. To my surprise Panda-in-crime (I later discovered he likes avocado pasta) ranked it a rare ten out of ten.
RECIPE: PRAWN AND AVOCADO STUFFED RAVIOLI
10 peeled and deveined prawns, heads reserved for stock
1 large ripe jungle avocado or 2-3 smaller Hass avocados
The zest of half a lemon and a sprinkle of juice
A red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
A sprinkling of salt
A grinding of pepper
200g of fresh pasta dough or 20 wonton wrappers
For the sauce
Prawn stock made from the heads
Half a stick of chopped celery
Half of a diced carrot
A splash of white wine
A knob of butter
A tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
A finely chopped clove of garlic, fried (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS: Peel and devein the prawns and boil in a little water with the heads, shells, celery, carrot, peppercorns and bay leaf for a couple of minutes or until the flesh turns opaque and pink. Fish out the prawns using a slotted spoon and continue to boil the stock for ten more minutes. Strain, using a sieve, and return the stock to the pan. Add a splash of white wine or vermouth and reduce until you only have a tablespoon or two of liquid remaining. Add a knob of butter and whisk briskly to incorporate it into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and add the chopped tomato just before serving.
Fry the chilli in a drizzle of olive oil until fragrant. Add in the chopped avocado flesh and sauté for just fifteen to twenty seconds. Mash the avocado with a fork, mix in the lemon zest and juice, and season well.
If using, split the pasta dough into four and roll each strip out as thinly as possible, or use the last setting on your pasta maker. Alternatively, place the wonton wrapper on the work surface. Place five spoonfuls of avocado filling along two of the pasta strips (or onto ten of the wrappers) and place a prawn on top, leaving enough space around the edges to seal the ravioli. Moisten the edges with water using your fingertip or a pastry brush and cover with a second sheet of pasta (or wrapper). Press down gently from the centre outwards when forming the ravioli to avoid trapping any air bubbles and press the edges together firmly. Cut out the ravioli using a cutter, knife or glass ensuring that the margin around the filling is well sealed. Gently lower the ravioli into a large pan of salted boiling water and in a couple of minutes they’ll be ready and floating on the surface. You may have to do this in two batches if you don’t have a large enough saucepan.
Arrange the ravioli on a plate and spoon over the sauce. Tarragon or fennel tops would be a good choice of herb to add to the sauce with the tomatoes,but such herbs are hard to come by here. I like garlic so scattered crunchy nuggets of fried garlic over the top, but this is optional. Pour out a glass of chilled Sancerre and enjoy.