May 17, 2011 § 4 Comments
Making your own pasta is easier than you’d think. It’s no more difficult than making a pastry! If you have a pasta machine, then the pain of rolling is reduced somewhat, but I kinda like the pain. You get more of a sense of achievement when you put a bit of effort into your supper. I think. So yeah, pasta. You can make really easy lasagna sheets or tagliatelle this way, just make – roll – and cut, but when you want something a bit more special [and you have the remnants of a batch of spinach to use up like I did] then spinach and ricotta ravioli is a fun thing to make.
I’m calling these rustic ravioli because of what they look like. Sure, they won’t win any beauty contests or look like those pretty shop bought versions. I just want to show people I suppose that you don’t need equipment any more specialised than a round cutter and a rolling-pin to make ravioli. They’ll taste just as delicious regardless of what they look like!
So the first thing I did was put about 300 grams of flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. I use a very fine durum flour branded as ‘pasta flour’ , but I’ve read recipes that use ordinary plain wheat flour too.
Anyway, I made a well in the centre of the flour and broke in 3 eggs. Then broke up the yolks with a fork, and gradually start to bring in the flour from the edges as you turn the bowl and mix.
When it was just about fully mixed and coming together, I turned it out onto a clean surface…
…and gave it a good ‘ole knead for at least ten minutes. It should start to become a bit more yellow in colour [from the yolks of the eggs] and feel a lot smoother. Then I wrapped it up in some cling film and left it to rest in the fridge while I got the filling ready. I used about half the dough for these ravioli, the other half will freeze well if you don’t want to use it the next day.
Now the filling! A lot of recipes will advocate the cooking of the spinach to make ravioli filling, but I think it cooks enough when it’s inside the pasta so I never bother. I just chop it up a bit so it kinda looks like this…
…then stick it in a little bowl with some ricotta cheese, plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg and give it a mix…
…then a tablespoon or two of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano. Gave it another quick mix and into the fridge while I finished the pasta. It’s like a ravioli relay!!
Ravioli of course can be filled with all manner of different things. Cheeses, meats like chicken or parma ham, seafood like chopped prawns or crabmeat, or veggies like butternut squash will all be happy inside a little pasta case. The trick is to experiment until you find a filling you love, then practice until it becomes second nature and you can whip them up to impress whenever you have people over for food!
Now to the rolling. The dough needs to be as thin as you can roll it. If you think it’s thin enough that it might break, then that’s thin enough. But it has to be thin. I can’t stress the point enough that it should be thin….
So then I cut it. There are lots of different ways you can go about assembling ravioli, but this is the method I prefer. I just cut little circles with a round biscuit cutter – job done! I re-roll the bits that are left and keep cutting and rolling till all the dough is used up.
Next, the actual filling of the filling so to speak. A teaspoon of the mixture on each little disc, then I brushed the edges with water…
…and stuck the top disc on, kinda forcing the air out as I pinched the edges and seal them all round. If there’s air in there they tend to explode while they’re cooking.
To make them extra sealed [and in a cursory nod to aesthetics] I pressed the edges with the edge of a fork….
…and there you go, a little army of spinach and ricotta ravioli! Aren’t they pretty? Pretty in a rustic ‘not perfectly perfect and still a little rough around the edges’ kinda way? I like that…
To cook these little beauties, I just dropped them into a big pot of boiling salted water until they reach the top, then keep them on a rolling boil for about 5 minutes until done. Man, I’m hungry again just typing this!
The choice of what kind of sauce to serve with your ravioli is up to you really. You could try sage butter, or something cheesy and creamy, or something tomatoey and chunky like I did here – with tomatoes, onion, green pepper, chopped mushrooms, garlic, and fresh basil. Sprinkle a bit more Parmigiano Reggiano on top…