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Sunday, 27 January 2013

From Scratch - Ravioli (Filled with Fresh Ricotta & Spinach) in Tomato-Cream Sauce

A wonderfully comforting dish after a long day!

Nothing like the early morning hours for a little peace and quiet to write a post about this mouthwatering and wonderfully comforting dish of Fresh Ravioli. Before everyone is up, before the phone starts ringing and before I am back to the task list for my cookbook, I thought to sneak in this recipe, which I have been trying to post for a week now! It is an unbelievably busy time for me at the moment! As you may already know I am working on my first cookbook, which explains why I haven't been posting as often as I would like. However, knowing that pretty soon I will be giving you way more than a blog post, makes the not-so-often posting all worth it ;)
But to answer your questions, yes I am still alive! lol! And no, I did not stop blogging nor did I stop my cooking classes lol! At the moment, I am preparing a bigger gift for you! Then I will be back with all the classes and posts, so please bear with me :)

In this post I am sharing with you one of my favourite Ravioli Recipes. Ravioli is delicious, I can have Ravioli anytime. There are a million fillings to make, and handfuls of sauces to choose from - the combinations are endless!

Making Fresh Pasta from Scratch is the one of the most pleasurable kitchen activities

On days when you have the time, and thinking to hit the kitchen to cook up a treat for your family, then nothing beats making Fresh Ravioli. To me, making fresh pasta is one of the most delightful and rewarding kitchen activities, and I know that once you get into it yourself, you will feel the same. Play some Italian music - get in the mood - sip on wine and make pasta! Tease your palate with tastes of the filling, the sauce, and even one Ravioli after cooking, before adding the sauce... enjoy your kitchen and the whole cooking therapy! Trust me, there is nothing like it! Then, to top it all up, dish out a bowl of Ravioli for your family to enjoy and ... feel the love!
On the other hand, if you work long hours, and don't have much time to spare for some kitchen therapy, then make this dish in stages. Day one: Make the pasta. Day two: Make the filling and shape the Ravioli. Day 3: Cook the Ravioli, make the sauce and devour! This way you will get not just one session of kitchen therapy, but three full sessions of this amazing kitchen love! You will also love it because there is something very comforting about tucking into a plate of pasta after a long day at work.

In this recipe I chose to go for a basic egg pasta for making the raviolis. For the filling, I chose local fresh ricotta, the flavour of which is very freshly milky and sweet. Seasoned with the earthly and lightly peppery fresh spinach and complimented with the fruitiness of Parmesan cheese, the filling becomes absolutely gorgeous, seducing your palate and urging it to ask for more.
I was after the creamy texture too. The filling already offered creaminess from the ricotta, and to celebrate this texture a bit more, I went with a Tomato-Cream sauce. A pure cream sauce seemed too heavy, too rich, while this duo of cream and tomato offered a contrast - where the ever so slightly tangy tomato tricks your palate into thinking the sauce is lighter. Further still, the tomato offers a contrast to the ricotta's sweetness, balancing out the whole experience. Perfection!
Finally, I always look for a bit of crunch, and find food dull without that action and bite! So, I had toasted some walnuts and sprinkled them around, for a little extra thrill.

It was succulent, it was balanced, it was fresh, it was creamy, it had a bite, it was fun, it was comforting and it was all that I had thought of when I got that pasta roller out of the cupboard! 
It is, the perfect dish to tuck into, especially on these days of endless paper work, cups and spoonfuls, edits, and page orders, layouts and designs.... It was the comfort of knowing, I produced something marvelous at the end of it all!

You too can make your own pasta and have it; the way you like it! 
Here is the recipe to mine :)

Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli in Tomato-Cream Sauce
Serves 4
Always use good quality Parmesan cheese. Never use the bad-tasting variety that comes ready grated  in those bottles bought at the supermarket. It is always best to buy a proper slice of cheese and grate it yourself, it makes all the difference.
Local Fresh Ricotta -
Italian Dairy Products

You Need
1 recipe Basic Egg Pasta
3 tbsp toasted walnuts
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly cracked black pepper

For the filling
500 g Local Fresh Ricotta
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
350 g fresh baby spinach leaves
Salt & Black pepper to taste

For the Tomato-Cream Sauce
1 Kg ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt & Black pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup double cream
1/4 cup fresh local Ricotta

Start by making the pasta and resting it. Follow this link for a step by step tutorial.

In the meantime, make the filling. Wash the spinach leaves, then gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Place the leaves on a kitchen towel and pat to dry. Roughly chop the spinach.

In a large bowl, stir the Ricotta cheese until it loosens up. Add the chopped spinach and grated Parmesan and mix all well. Add the egg and mix well to combine. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until ready to use.

Once your pasta dough had rested, start rolling it to aerate as explained in the Making Fresh Pasta post. Once you have finished the rolling and have achieved long and very thin sheets of pasta dough, cut these sheets into squares, using a square cutter for a more traditional look, or you can go for a round cutter for a different look. You can cut the sheets with a rolling blade or a knife, but using a cutter guarantees uniformly sized raviolis. Keep the dough covered with a 100% cotton cloth, when not using to prevent drying.

  • Working with small batches at a time, place the pasta squares, separated, on a clean work surface as in the picture above. 
  • Scoop out 1 tsp of filling and roll it into a ball, then place at the centre of the pasta square. Make sure the filling does not touch the edges of the pasta square. Using a small pastry brush - dipped in water then tapped on a kitchen towel - slightly dampen the edges of the pasta square around the filling. 
  • Carefully, cover with another pasta square, without squeezing in the filling. Start with sealing one corner, then move on to seal the whole square, where the filling is encased, and non of it is out or touching the sides...etc (if the filling touches the sides, the pasts will open up during cooking). pinch all the edges to ensure they are sealed.
  • Using a small fork, gently press along the edge to give it that famous Ravioli look and to seal it even more. This is optional, as you can simply keep the pasta as is, without pressing.
  • Place the shaped raviolis on a tray sprinkled with flour.
  • Repeat until you have finished the whole quantity.

Make the Tomato-Cream Sauce
Saute the crushed garlic in olive oil, just until translucent, add the chopped tomatoes and sugar and stir. Season with salt and black pepper then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat and simmer to lightly reduce and thicken. 

In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix the Ricotta cheese to loosen. Stir the Ricotta into the slightly reduced tomato sauce. Add the cooking cream and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes.  

While the tomato sauce is reducing, cook the raviolis in salted boiling water:
Bring water to a boil in a medium pot, salt the water and bring it back to a boil. Drop the raviolis, in small batches in the boiling salted water and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the water and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle the cooked Raviolis lightly with olive oil. Repeat until you have cooked all the Raviolis.

Add the Raviolis to the Tomato-Cream Sauce and shake the pot to cover the Raviolis with the sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes, then pour all into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper, the toasted walnuts and grated Parmesan.
Serve immediately, with a side of assorted leaves dressed with a simple vinaigrette, and long strips of toasted garlic bread (these are gorgeous dipped into the sauce!). Heaven on a plate!

Hope you guys will give this recipe a try, I know you will love it and your family will too. After all there is nothing better than knowing we are serving our families some really fabulous foods and knowing they will love us for it :))

I also hope that you are just as excited about my upcoming cookbook as I am lol. You all have been asking me for one, and I have been listening very well, so I know you will love to finally get hold of one! :)) In the meantime, enjoy the recipes on this blog, there are lots to try.

Have a delicious day and let me hear from you before you go x :))