Our friend James came to stay last week and said he wanted to try his hand at making ravioli. I think he'd read my recent post describing my first attempts at pasta making and thought he could hardly do it worse.
So we made the pasta dough, whipped up a light ricotta, herb and lemon filling, then got the pasta machine out and started cranking. James turned out to be a dab hand at making the ravioli, while I had a nice cup of tea and did a bit of back seat driving.
We ate the ravioli served on a dollop of steamed spinach, topped with a splash of Parmesan cream and scattered with crunchy, herby breadcrumbs in the form of pangrattato. It was delicious and James can be my sous chef any time he likes.
I haven't given directions here for steaming spinach, which is in any case an optional extra. It does help to cut the richness of the dish though.
Herby Ravioli With Pangrattato
Ingredients for the pasta dough:
300g Tipo "00″ flour (or plain flour) plus rice flour or fine semolina for dusting
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tspn olive oil
You will also need:
A little egg wash or beaten egg white to seal the edges of the ravioli
Some extra flour, fine-ground polenta or rice flour to dust your pastry board and to stop the finished ravioli sticking to the plate before you cook them
For the filling:
100g finely grated Parmesan
A big handful of chopped herbs - I used parsley and basil
The zest of 1/2 a lemon
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pangrattato:
A splash of olive oil
A large handful of fresh breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
The zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
For the Parmesan cream:
200ml double cream
40g grated parmesan
Put all the pasta dough ingredients into a food processor and whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs, then bring it together in a ball on a pastry board and knead for 10 minutes until it's silky smooth - or follow the method for making it by hand here. Wrap well in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Mix all the filling ingredients together and set aside in the fridge until you need it.
When the dough has chilled, divide it in half (put a damp tea towel on the bit you're not using to stop it drying out) and put each half through the pasta machine on its widest setting, then repeat four or five more times, turning the machine down a notch each time. You may have to cut it in half at some point otherwise it'll be too long to handle. It should end up being thin but still easy to handle without tearing. My machine has six notches - I stopped after No.5.
Cut it into squares slightly bigger than your ravioli cutter (if you have one - otherwise a chef's ring or cookie cutter), place a teaspoon or so of filling in the middle of a square, then dampen the edges with egg wash or beaten egg white. Place another square on top, gently shape it around to avoid any air bubbles, then press down with your cutter to seal the edges. You can re-roll any leftovers.
Scatter a bit of extra flour on a big plate and put each ravioli on the plate as you finish making it. Cover with a damp tea towel while you make the sauce and pangrattato.
To make the Parmesan cream, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over a medium heat then whisk in the Parmesan and some freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm.
To make the pangrattato, fry all the ingredients, apart from the parsley, in a frying pan until golden-brown and crunchy. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Or, if you're as absent-minded as me, throw it all in together. It'll still taste good, it just won't be quite as fresh and green. Keep warm.
When you're ready to eat, bring a big pan of lightly salted water to the boil and add the ravioli in batches. They're done when they float to the top, a matter of a minute or so. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm while you cook the rest.
To serve, put a dollop of steamed and well-drained spinach in the middle of each bowl, add the cooked ravioli (we made five per person), drizzle with a little Parmesan cream and scatter with some pangrattato.