As I wrote many times: we absolutely love having friends for dinner. It’s great to go to the food market and pick fresh vegetables, organic meat and the right selections of wines and ingredients for mouthwatering desserts. These are the special days, it’s nothing we do every day. Luckily we’ve learned to pull something out of the hat with a little less effort and costs because – especially when you have kids – you never know how many people there will be at the dinner table until last minute. One of our favorites for these occasions is homemade pasta. There’s millions of good ideas and recipes but I think everyone has a standard formula for feeding a bunch of people without spending a fortune but still raising a cheer. Ours is ravioli. The fillings do vary from ricotta and spinache to cheese, onions and bacon or walnuts, cheese and basil…whatever there is in the fridge. Until we found our best pasta dough it took a couple of attempts. The most difficult thing was to keep the pastry elastic and dry because otherwise it will either stick to your fingers or end up perforated, both is annoying. Our recipe with a guarantee for success (a friend who is an Italian chef gave away his secret) is the following:
400g all-purpose flour (type 405) or pasta flour (type 00)
3 tbsp olive oil
Put it all into the kitchen machine and knead on low level for about 5 minutes. Then wrap it in cling film and put into the fridge while you’re preparing your filling. Don’t be scared, make your own mixture of stuff , everything you can imagine as a good combination with pasta. The only important thing is not to make it too liquid. Maybe you’ll try it with a mixture of 200g ricotta cheese and 150g spinache seasoned with sea salt, black ground pepper and nutmeg. Mix everything in the food processor and put it to the side.
Now take the dough out of the fridge, remove the cling film and cut it (the dough not the foil) into pieces of about 200-250g and roll it out on a floured surface. Then cut it into stripes and use your pasta machine, start with the thickest level and reduce the thickness every time until the thinnest level. Put a teaspoon of the filling onto the dough and try what size works best for you. Some use a ravioli board but we haven’t got one and if you like the rough look of the ravioli (like we do) just use your fingers. Especially when you do this together with kids don’t be too perfectionistic, this should be fun! I watered my finger and used it to wet the frame of the ravioli and covered it with the next sheet. When you cover it make sure your hands are dry again otherwise it doesn’t stick well enough to each other. You can use a cookie cutter, a glass with a sharp bezel, a pizza wheel or a simple knife to bring it into the right shape. Put the finished ravioli on a floured tray or kitchen towel until they’re all ready.
Bring a big pot of salted water to boil. For the sauce you can simply heat a good knob of butter and then add chopped sage and a pinch of salt. Give the ravioli into the boiling water and let them simmer until they come up to the water surface. Take them out with a skimmer and put them on warm plates before adding the sage butter, some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh pepper. We love this pasta because it reflects exactly our philosophy of life: simple and wow!
We were so hungry by the time the ravioli were ready to eat that we totally forgot to take a picture of the finished dish, now I’m a little sorry. As we make these from time to time I’ll add another picture next time.