Thursday 16 October 2008

Recipe: Ravioli with Parsley Stuffing

My favourite new pasta dish - and one for which I don't in the least understand its obscurity. I've yet to come across parsley-stuffed ravioli on a restaurant menu anywhere in Italy, and yet the flavour is great and the preparation couldn't be simpler. Maybe it's another of those things where its simplicity has meant that people have come to disregard it, and along the way they stopped noticing how good it actually is...

So much about cooking is efficient time-management. About ten days ago, the Brancolis came to dinner, in advance of us all going to the final concert in this year's Anima Mundi Cycle, in the Duomo (Arvo Part's Cantus for Benjamin Britten, and Renaud Capucon playing Brahms' Violin Concerto - both of which were truly excellent...). The fact that we lingered longer than intended over pre-dinner fizzy wine, and that the concert was going to start at 9.00 come-what-may, conspired to mean suddenly we were pressed for time....and from the moment of starting to roll the pasta dough to the point when bowls of steaming ravioli were placed on the table took exactly 30 minutes. Doubtless, some weather-beaten Nonna would have been able to do it in half the time....but I thought it wasn't a bad effort for a mere novice.

For Four*.

Ingredients: Pasta dough, made with 3 medium eggs and 2 cups of '00' flour, plus a generous pinch of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil(optional: you can also ad a sachet of squid ink if you want black pasta, and a slightly fishy taste to your ravioli) ; 250g ricotta; 1 cup loosely-packed fresh parsley; 1 piece of hard parmesan, about 1.5" cube, cut into small pieces; 1 egg; large pinch of Nutmeg; salt & pepper to taste.


1. Process all of the pasta dough ingredients together for thirty seconds,to give you a homogenous lump, that is not sticky to the touch.Let this rest in the fridge for half an hour

2.Place the parsley and pieces of parmesan in the food processor bowl and process for ten seconds or so, until decently broken down, and then add all the remaining ingredients and process further to make a thick paste. Check and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

3. Once rested, divide the pasta dough into quarters, and quickly roll each quarter ten times at the broadest setting on your pasta machine, turning and folding the strips as you go. Then, cut each quarter in half; cover the remaining pieces of pasta to stop them drying out, and take each of the eight pieces of dough through the six-stage rolling process, reducing the thickness between the rollers with each stage.

4. Once each strip of pasta has finished its sixth roll, lay it on a floured cloth and place a row of teaspoons of filling (five or six, depending upon the exact length of the pasta strip) along the centre of the strip. Fold the strip over on itself, and use a pasta wheel seal the length of the folded strip and to cut between the spoonfuls of filling, to create square ravioli about and inch and a half square.

5. Repeat with the remaining pasta and filing (I generally find I run out of filling while I still have some pasta dough left - enough for a fettucine starter the following day). Cook for about three minutes in a large pan of boiling, salted water.

6. To serve: melt a couple of ounces of butter in a small saucepan, and add to this a half cup of double cream. Heat through for about a minute, to thicken slightly, as the pasta cooks, and then use gently to coat the ravioli once they've been drained.

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