Now reading Mint Love Letters With Spicy Lamb Sausage

Mint Love Letters With Spicy Lamb Sausage

One of the most popular recipes at Babbo since day one.

“Love letters” is a bit of menu poetry, but this has been one of the most popular dishes we’ve served since day one. The inspiration was the natural affinity between lamb and mint, but I also love the Moroccan flavors of mint tea and merguez sausage.

This is excerpted from The Babbo Cookbook, by Mario Batali.

Ingredients

Makes 70–80 ravioli
  • + Kosher salt 
  • 1 lb sweet peas, fresh or frozen (about 3 lbs in the pod if using fresh)
  • 2 C mint leaves, 16 reserved for garnish
  • 1 C Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • + freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • + basic pasta dough
  • + basic tomato sauce
  • 1lb merguez (spicy lamb sausage), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 lb pecorino romano, for grating

Basic Pasta Dough

  • 3 1/2–4 C flour
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 t extra-virgin olive oil

Basic Tomato Sauce

  • 1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4 inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 T chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 T dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 2 (28-oz) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
  • + salt, to taste

Preparation

Make the Tomato Sauce

Basic Tomato Sauce
  • 1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4 inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 T chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 T dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 2 (28-oz) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
  • + salt, to taste

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8–10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Make the Pasta Dough

Basic Pasta Dough
  • 3 1/2–4 C flour
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 t extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and the olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.

  2. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well shape. The dough will come together when half the flour is incorporated.

  3. Start kneading the dough with both hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly re-flour the board, and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Make the Ravioli

Ingredients
  • + Kosher salt 
  • 1 lb sweet peas, fresh or frozen (about 3 lbs in the pod if using fresh)
  • 2 C mint leaves, 16 reserved for garnish
  • 1 C Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • + freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • + basic pasta dough
  • + basic tomato sauce
  • 1lb merguez (spicy lamb sausage), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 lb pecorino romano, for grating
  1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Set up an ice bath nearby. Submerge the shelled peas in the boiling water, and cook until tender yet still bright green, 1–2 minutes. Remove the peas with a slotted spoon, reserving the boiling water, and plunge them into the ice bath to refresh and cool. Using the same water, blanch the mint leaves for just 10–15 seconds. Transfer immediately to the ice bath. Drain well.

  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peas, mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano, heavy cream, and salt and pepper, and pulse to form a smooth paste.

  3. Using a pasta machine, roll out the pasta to the thinnest setting, and then cut the sheets into 3-inch squares. Place 1 tablespoon of the pea filling on each square, and fold over to form rectangles. Continue filling and shaping until all the pasta and filling are used. Cover and refrigerate until needed or place on baking sheets between layers of dish towels and freeze overnight. The next day, place in freezer bags and store up to 1 week.

  4. In a medium saucepan, bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Add the sausage, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour, skimming off the fat as it is rendered from the meat. Remove the sauce from the heat, cool briefly, and then pulse it in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a 12-inch sauté pan and keep warm.

  5. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

  6. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender and cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce. Toss gently over high heat for 1 minute, add the reserved mint leaves, toss 1 minute more, then divide evenly among eight warmed dinner plates. Grate the Pecorino Romano over each plate and serve immediately.