My other half is Italian, and when we moved in together in London, his mom got us a pasta machine. She brought in on a plane all the way from Italy, because everyone knows you cannot survive without it. While she was staying with us, she used it to cook an awesome all home made lasagna , which I suppose should have encouraged me to use it as well. But instead, I felt like I could never equal her and the poor pasta machine stayed in a cupboard for about 6 months, untouched.
Until one day, a friend of mine crashed at our house for a few days while she was looking for an apartment in Oxford. She had just come back from a 3 month cooking class in Florence (I am absolutely not jealous), and told us how she would have liked to thank us by cooking some fresh pasta but she had not brought her pasta machine. And that’s what offered my little machine a second occasion to shine, and me a chance to learn how to make fresh pasta, which is actually not a difficult as I had thought!
200 g flour – we mixed 100 g ‘farina di grano duro’ (also brought back from italy by the Mamma) and 100 g normal flour
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup spinach (I used the frozen ones..too lazy!)
Salt and pepper
To make the dough: the easier way is to just put the egg and flour in a food processor but we chose to make our raviolis the traditional way.
Place the flour on a board ar make it look like a little volcano by making a well in the centre. Crack the egg in the well and beat with a fork until smooth.
Then it is time to get your hands dirty: mix the eggs with the flour unsing the tip of your fingers until everything is combined and you get a big ball of dough. If your dough is too dry, add a bit of water to the mix.
Once you have your dough, you need to knead it for a few minutes, like you would do for bread. That’s hard work! Once your dough feels smooth you can stop.
Then wrap your dough in cling film and put in the fridge for half an hour.
To make the filling:
Start by draining your ricotta for a few minutes in a fine strainer. Then do the same for the spinach.
Mix the ricotta and spinach together, add salt and pepper. That’s it!
To make the raviolis:
This will take some time..so we actually waited for our guests to arrive before making the actual raviolis. It was a fun way to start the evening, and we avoided spending hours in the kitchen making ravioli for 5.
First make sure you can work on a clean, large and long surface and clamp your machine on it. Dust the working surface with flour and make sure you keep some at hand, in case the dough starts to stick.
Take a piece of pasta dough the size of an apple and press it out flat with the palm of your hand. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll the pasta dough through it. Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. And so on until the dough is so thin you can almost see through it. It is important to run the pasta through all the settings, from the largest to the narrowest. If you don’t go through all the steps, your pasta might break. The dough does not have to be as think for normal pasta, but as the ravioli are stuffed already, it is better to keep the pasta as thin as possible, otherwise it makes the dish a bit heavy.
Once you have your sheets of pasta, cut them in squares of 3*3 to 5*5 cm. By the time we reached that stage, we were all very hungry so we made very large raviolis to be done quicker! Put one teaspoon of the spinach mixture on every other square.
Then cover the squares with spinach with another layer of pasta. Press the second square down on the spinach and try to get all the air out, but keep the stuffing in the center. If there are bubbles of air left in the raviolis, they will open while cooking and the filling will get out. To make sure the raviolis are airtight, press a fork down all the sides. Lay down all the raviolis on a large baking tray, an if you make several layers, make you to cover your first layer with flour before starting the next, so that your raviolis don’t stick together.
As a suggestion you can serve your raviolis with a sage-butter sauce. Cook your pasta for 2-3 minutes in boiling water (or until the raviolis float). While the water is boiling, in a pan, melt about 25 g of butter per person, and add a handful of sage (fresh is best, but I used dried sage). Leave to cook on low fire until the raviolis are cooked. Then strain the raviolis and add them in the pan and gently mix with the sage butter. Add salt, pepper and Parmesan to taste…and enjoy!