To many people liver is not among the most appealing foods. When happens to ask friends if they like it, I often receive negative answers accompanied sometimes even with gestures of repulsion. I can totally understand this response, because liver not only has a particularly strong and aggressive taste but just its distinct and repellent look can prevent someone from even tasting it. Some people though they like it and in most cases they love it. I am one of those. I remember eating liver from my childhood. What kind of liver? All kinds, calf, pig, lamb, chicken, with the last one being my favorite.
From the aforementioned types, chicken and calf liver were commonly on our dining table. The first usually was prepared sautéed in olive oil together with wine and dried oregano and was playing the role of the appetizer. I recall enjoying it mostly on holiday lunches during family gatherings in the village. It was appearing on the table at least an hour before the main course. It was the time when family friends and relatives were passing by from our house for a short visit before going to their houses for lunch.
Chicken liver was then the main meze to accompany men talks and tsipouro drinking, while women were in the kitchen preparing the rest. I was eating the small pieces of it, in combination with bread dipped in the cooking liquids and spread with tzatziki. The eating sequence was first a piece of liver, then a piece of bread with tzatziki, followed regularly with a zip of tsipouro. I was by far the one eating the most of it, to such an extend that I was feeling already satisfied without a big urge to proceed with the main course, that commonly was slow-cooked lamb with potatoes.
On the contrary, the bigger pieces of calf liver were cooked usually in the oven, combined with an olive oil and lemon vinaigrette and were served as a main dish.
When I started cooking liver by myself, I was commonly adding a spice that was typically used in many liver recipes throughout Greece. The spice is sweet paprika that if you get it in its smoked form it gives a deep flavour to the dish. Having in mind this and encouraged by my latest trials to color Italian pasta I thought to transform my classical liver recipe. I used the sweet paprika not to season the liver but to color the pasta dough. I subsequently rolled out the latter to form ravioli pockets that were filled with the liver. Because the paprika gives a strong orange color to the dough, I decided to finish the recipe enhancing this color palette by combining the ravioli with a tomato sauce.
Paprika colored ravioli with liver in tomato sauce
- 200 gr durum wheat semola
- ca. 100 gr water
- a good spoon of sweet paprika
Mix the ingredients and knead the dough for few minutes until a playdough consistency. Let it rest for 15-30 min and roll it out using a rolling pin or a pasta machine.
- Liver (any kind)
- Dried tomatoes
- Red wine
- Olive oil
Sauté dry ingredients with a tablespoon of olive oil for few minutes, until liver is cooked but still tender. Add wine, cook for a couple of minutes more, until liquids are reduced. Remove from fire, transfer the mixture to a food processor, add extra basil and blend thoroughly. If it feels dry add some water and blend again as to create a mix with near-to-paste type of consistency.
Cook the ravioli in a pot of generously salted boiling water for ca. 5 min. Try one to check doneness.
In the meantime prepare the sauce by heating in a pan some tomato juice together with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and basil. Cook for 5 min. and add the boiled ravioli. Combine and mix all the components.
Serve, grate some cheese and enjoy!!