Blue Swimmer Crab Tortellini, Saffron Butter and Tomato Essence

Blue Swimmer Crab Tortellini, Saffron Butter and Tomato Essence

Serves 4

500 gm vine-ripened tomatoes
1 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 zucchini, finely grated
75 ml béchamel sauce [see note]
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp pinenuts, roasted
125 gm blue swimmer crabmeat, picked
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Pasta Dough:
60 gm plain ‘00’ strong flour
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp lightly beaten egg

Saffron Butter:
1 pinch of saffron
50 gm soft butter
1 golden shallot, finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
50 ml dry white wine

1. Process tomatoes in a food processor until smooth, strain through a fine sieve, then pour into a muslin-lined colander placed over a bowl and stand in a cool place for 3 hours to drain [the longer the tomatoes sit the more essence extracted]. Do not press mixture through muslin. You will need 3/4 cup clear tomato essence.
2. For saffron butter, place saffron in a small frying pan and dry-roast over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 20 seconds or until fragrant. Heat 20gm butter in a small saucepan, add shallots and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, or until shallots are soft, then add saffron and wine, and simmer for 3 minutes or until wine is completely reduced. Transfer shallot mixture to an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, then add remaining butter, a Tablespoon at a time, and beat until light and fluffy. Season to taste with 1 tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Makes 1/4 cup.
3. For pasta dough, process flour, 1 tsp sea salt and olive oil in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then add egg and pulse until mixture starts to come together. Turn dough onto bench and knead until smooth. Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using a pasta machine, roll dough to its finest setting, cut into circles using a 9 1/2cm round cutter and place on a tray with plastic wrap between each layer until ready to use.
4. Heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add zucchini and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened, season to taste and cool. Place zucchini in a bowl, add béchamel, lemon rind, juice and pinenuts and stir to combine, then gently fold through crabmeat, season to taste, cover and refrigerate.
5. To make tortellini, place 1/2 – 1 Tbsp crab mixture on half of each pasta round, brush with a little egg wash, fold pasta over filling, seal with fingers, pinch ends and twist together to form a crescent shape. Transfer to a tray and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat with remaining pasta and filling. Cook tortellini in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain.
6. Warm tomato essence in a saucepan [being careful not to let it boil as it will go cloudy]. Divide tortellini between bowls, pour over tomato essence. Place 1 tsp saffron butter on top of tortellini, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, season to taste and serve immediately.

Note: For béchamel sauce, heat 10gm butter in a small saucepan until foamy, add 10gm flour and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add 150ml milk, in batches, stirring after each addition, and cook for 2 minutes. Makes about 1/2 cup.

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