Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Tomato Sauce

Making pasta dough used to scare me.

Honestly, making any kind of dough used to scare me. I think it was the kneading... It had always seemed complicated to me, something that needed A LOT of practice.

But once you get the hang of it, you realize it's not that hard and it's actually a lot of fun.

It's not difficult, but you will have to set aside some time, particularly if you're making pasta from scratch for the first time.



250g spinach, washed and chopped

150g ricotta cheese

Salt and pepper


300g flour

3 eggs

3 teaspoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

Tomato Sauce:

2 (400g) cans peeled tomatoes in juice

4 or 5 cloves ofgarlic, crushed

4 tablespoons oil

Salt and pepper

  1. For the sauce: Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the crushed garlic and fry for a few minutes until fragrant.
  2. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add them, along with the juice, to the pan. Fill both cans with water and add this to the saucepan as well. Bring to the boil, place the lid on the saucepan and turn the heat down to very low.
  3. Let the sauce cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. As the sauce thickens you will have to stir more frequently. The sauce is ready when it is no longer watery.
  4. When the sauce is ready, remove from heat and set aside.
  5. For the filling: Add the spinach to a saucepan and cover with 3 to 4 cups of water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 30 minutes.
  6. Drain the spinach and squeeze the water out.
  7. Mix together the spinach and ricotta in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. For the pasta: Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt.
  9. Make a well in the centre, break to eggs into it and add the olive oil.
  10. Using a fork, slowly whisk the eggs and then gradually start to incorporate the flour into the eggs.
  11. Once the dough starts to come together, do away with the fork and use your hands to form it into a ball.
  12. It may seem dry at this point but as you begin to work it, it will come together.
  13. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball and press all of the dry flour into the dough. Then knead it for 4 to 5 minutes. To knead the dough, place the heel of your hand in the middle of the ball of dough and push it away from you. With your fingers, fold the dough over towards you and then use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you. Repeat this process until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  14. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.
  15. Now to roll out the dough, you can either use a pasta machine or you can roll it out by hand. (I used a pasta machine.)
  16. Divide the dough into 3 portions.
  17. If you are using a pasta machine, take a portion of dough, roll it into a log shape and flatten slightly. (Cover the other two portions of dough with a damp cloth so that it doesn't dry out.) Dust the dough on both sides with flour and pass through the machine, at its widest setting. Do this twice. Then fold the dough, first from left to right and then from top to bottom. Pass the dough through the machine again, at the widest setting. Repeat this process 6 times. If the dough gets sticky or wet, dust with some more flour.
  18. Now continue to pass the dough through the pasta machine, reducing to a narrower setting each time, until the pasta is 1 mm thick.
  19. Alternatively, you can roll the pasta dough out by hand using a rolling pin.
  20. Cut the pasta into 4 x 4 inch squares. Take one square and place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre. Brush the edges of the square with water and top with another square of dough. Press down around the filling to push out any air bubbles. Press the edges of the dough together, trim the dough and then seal the ends by pressing down with the edge of a fork. Repeat until the filling is used up.
  21. Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water, in batches of 3 or 4, for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the tomato sauce.
  22. To serve, spoon some tomato sauce, about 3 tablespoons, in a plate and place 3 or 4 ravioli on it. Spoon a bit more sauce over the ravioli, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve. (Serves 4 to 6)

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