Homemade Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with a Simple Summer Tomato Sauce
Like making bread, I find making fresh pasta incredibly therapeutic. And believe me, the taste is something completely different from the dried or store bought kind.
I bought a pasta machine about 5 years ago. Like so many other kitchen gadgets, I used it twice (both total disasters), and abandoned it to the back of the cupboard while it gathered dust for years. Seriously, the top of its box actually caked in dust!
But somehow it managed to survive the ruthless culling of useless belongings when I moved flat each year. I always knew I'd come back to pasta making.
When we saw a fresh pasta making class at Weltec's culinary school offered in the Wellington on a Plate festival this year, I knew the time had come. I signed Matt and I up to an 8am Sunday start. You heard me. 8am. And on a Sunday! I didn't tell Matt about that part when selling the class to him. We even missed an AMAZING Sunday up the mountain to take the class.
Dedication, I know!
The class was a lot of fun. We got all sorts of tips and hints, LOTS of food, and best of all, you got a hands on demonstration from start to finish how to make your own fresh fettuccine and tortellini. Being shown how to do it, and having someone there to tell you what you're doing right and wrong (even just once) transformed my earlier disasters into the softest, silkiest, most delicious pasta I'd ever eaten.
I'm not going to run through how to make pasta here. But if you want a step by step guide, holla out and I'll pop up a tutorial. It's really not hard at all. I promise!
If you're not up to making your own pasta, wonton wrappers make a good substitute.
Feta and Spinach Ravioli with a Simple Summer Tomato Sauce
- 300g fresh pasta dough, rolled and ready to fill, or about 30-40 wonton wrappers, thawed
For the filling:
- 150g frozen spinach, thawed (or if you have it on hand, fresh spinach, wilted down)
- 150g ricotta
- 100g feta or soft goats cheese
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/4c toasted pine nuts
- Egg wash (made with 1 egg white mixed with about 1t water)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Put the spinach in a ball in the middle of a clean tea towel. Gather up the sides, twist, and squeeze out all the liquid.
Pop the spinach into a small food processor with the ricotta, feta, and garlic. Blend until it's combined and you don't have any big chunks of spinach. Add the toasted pine nuts, a little salt and pepper, and pulse a few more times. You still want some texture, so aim for the pine nuts to be in little pieces, not pulverised.
That's your filling. Easy huh!
Now lay out the rolled pasta and pop a small teaspoon of mixture at about 3cm intervals. If you're using won ton wrappers, pop a small teaspoon of mixture in the centre of each wrapper. Brush the egg wash around the filling with a pastry brush, lay a second strip of pasta (or wonton wrapper) over the top. Using a round cookie cutter or a ravioli cutter, cut out the ravioli. You might have to give the cutter a little wiggle to cut the pasta right through and get the ravioli to come loose.
Gently pick up each round of ravioli, and working around the edges, give them a little squeeze to seal them. Try and expel as much air as you can from inside the ravioli, or it'll expand when you cook them and burst the ravioli. Also, try not to split the pasta if you can, but if it's small split, don't worry about it too much.
Keep your offcuts! Gather them up as you go, and put them under a damp tea towel. You can re-roll these, to get more out of your pasta.
Put your finished ravioli on a very well floured surface. Every now and then, gently turn them over. You don't want them sticking to the bench/plate/board.
For the sauce
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2t chilli flakes
500g cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c chicken or vege stock
A good handful of basil leaves, torn in half or thirds
Salt and pepper
Shaved parmesan to finish
Bring a big pot of water to the boil
In a large pan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and chilli flakes, and as soon as it starts to smell AMAZING, add the cherry tomatoes. Let them soften for a minute or two, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, and reduce for about 4 minutes, until it looks nice and saucy. Don't reduce it too far. You want more liquid than you think. Turn off the heat and let it sit while you cook the pasta.
Put the pasta in the water, and boil for about 3 minutes or until al dente.
Gently lift the pasta out of the boiling water and into the tomato sauce. Carefully stir to cover the pasta in tomato sauce.
Put in pasta bowls, top with shaved parmesan, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.