Introduction: Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Ravioli
A few days ago I bought some fresh spinach, I had some ricotta cheese in the fridge and so I came up with the idea for homemade ravioli. This is one of the dishes that remind me of home and childhoods. It reminds me of Sunday lunches, misted windows and the table set to welcome us. The delicate flavour of the filling held by the compact yet delicate dough has always been one of my favourites. At home the ravioli filling was always prepared with fresh sheep ricotta cheese. My mom used to call the farm lady who delivered the fresh ricotta early in the morning before going to mass. Such a great cheese so fresh and still warm. Spinach are one of my favourite vegetables. I have always liked the intense flavour and the bright green colour. Along with ricotta cheese they melt into a thick tasty filling which is also the basis of gnudi, another traditional Tuscan dish that I love. Here's how I prepare these delicious ravioli.
For the dough:
• 400 g flour 0
• 70-80 g of durum wheat semolina
• 5 eggs
For the filling:
• 500 g fresh spinach
• 250 g of ricotta cheese, sheep's or if you can find it
• 2 handfuls of grated parmesan cheese
• black pepper
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 knob of butter
Wash and drain the spinach then put them in a pot over medium heat and let them wilt. Drain and squeeze well. Chop them and put them in a pan with the garlic cut in half and the butter. Cook well over a low heat so that they dry out, stirring occasionally. After 5-10 minutes put the spinach in a large bowl with a pinch of salt, a good grinding of pepper and the parmesan cheese. Stir in the ricotta and a good grating of nutmeg. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Put the filling in the fridge to rest while you prepare the dough for the ravioli.
Sieve the flour and semolina on a working surface, then make a well. Break the eggs one at a time in a bowl to make sure they are not spoilt, then pour them in the flour well. Add a good pinch of salt and begin to work the flour into the eggs first with the aid of a fork and then with a spatula incorporating the flour little by little. Knead the dough with your hands until it becomes smooth and firm. If the mixture feels too dry and compact wet your hands and continue kneading for a while. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
Roll out the dough with the pasta machine or with a rolling pin until very thin. You should get long pasta stripes 10-12 cm wide. Put a teaspoon of mixture in the middle of the dough at regular intervals and fold the dough over it. Seal the dough with your fingers being careful to remove all the air around the filling, then cut with a pasta wheel to form many rectangles of pasta filled with spinach and ricotta cheese. Take a rectangle of stuffed dough with both hands, with the filling side at the bottom, fold the dough around one of your fingers and join the two lower ends by applying some pressure so that it is well sealed. Place your ravioli on a cardboard tray sprinkled with flour or semolina. Continue till all the filling has been used.
At this point your ravioli can be cooked in plenty of salted boiling water and served or you can freeze them on trays and then store them in the freezer in food containers. Cook them from frozen.
I had quite a bit of leftover dough from this recipe so I made some lovely tagliatelle. Dry them and store them in a lidded food container. Cook in salted boiling water for a few minutes and serve with a lovely sausage and tomato sauce.
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