A couple of months ago I joined this online group: Daring Cooks. Each month a member (or two) posts a challenge recipe that all participants have to accomplish. The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
Typically nut butters are made in a food processor. I do not, however, have a food processor. I don’t even have wall outlets in my house. I had to improvise. I went old school. Mortar and pestle old school. I smashed and crushed and squeezed every last bit of oil out of the cashews I purchased in Kampala over the weekend. Quite a nice arm work out if I do say so myself. Try it sometime. Forearms of steel now. Well…at least one forearm of steel…must work on switching arms more when making nut butter…
I’m not at all a fan of peanuts (except in Snickers – that I’m perfectly fine with) so the typical peanut butter was out. The Asian cashew salad challenge recipe inspired me to create some sort of Asian-themed cashew dish. It’s been so hot here lately that the thought of a heavy nut sauce totally turned me off. But I had to incorporate cashew butter into the dish in some way. I played with the idea of creating cashew noodles – of mixing the cashew butter into the noodle dough itself. This evolved, as things do, into a vegetable ravioli drizzled with soy sauce and sesame oil and sprinkled with coarsely chopped cashew.
Poor planning caused me to have far less filling than I needed and I didn’t want to waste the rest of the dough, so I re-mixed the remaining ravioli circles and cut them into slices for some “traditional” cashew noodles. These I tossed with sesame oil, soy sauce, tomatoes, green pepper, carrots and chopped cashew.
Vegetable and Cashew Ravioli
For the Cashew noodles
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons cashew butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and make a well at the center. Add the eggs and cashew butter and stir to combine. Kneed the dough for 5 to 8 minutes, adding more flour if it becomes too sticky to handle. The dough should be smooth and springy.
Roll the pasta out onto a well floured surface very thin. For ravioli, use a cup or biscuit cutter to cut rounds out of the dough and set aside. Cut all ravioli rounds at once.
For more a more traditional noodle shape, cut the rolled pasta into thin strips and dust with flour so they don’t stick together. Boil the noodles in well salted water until they rise to the surface for at least one minute more. Top with sesame oil, soy sauce, diced tomato, shredded carrot and diced green pepper, or the vegetables of your choice.
For the ravioli filling
1 large carrot
1 small green pepper
1/2 cup french beans
1 medium tomato
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Peel the carrot and dice it into 1/4 inch squares. Also dice the green pepper, tomato and french beans into small 1/4 inch squares. Combine them together in a bowl with the garlic powder, black pepper, ginger, and cumin. Saute them over medium heat in a pan with the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil until tender.
Place one ravioli circle on your work area and put approximately 1 tablespoon (depending on the size of your ravioli) in the center of the dough. You can then either place a second circle on top of the first and seal the edges with the tines of a fork or you can fold the ravioli in half creating a half-moon shape and pinch the edges closed. set these aside on a floured surface so they don’t stick. Stuff all the ravioli and boil them in well salted water until they rise to the surface for at least one minute. Top with soy sauce, sesame oil and chopped cashews.