Practise makes perfect…right?!

Now I know we’re only a month in but Spring has been a total let-down so far. The days have been way too cold and rainy and have left me wishing for sunshine and lots of it! This year I can’t wait to shelve the winter warming dishes and move to fresher and lighter meals. Given the weather though, I’ll have to settle for something in the middle – fresh pasta!

I regularly make my own pasta when I’m cooking lasagna but have never really experimented with anything more adventurous. However after watching some of Junior Masterchef the other night and seeing a bunch of eleven year olds hand-making ravioli I figured it was about time I gave it a go.

Plan A (Operation Tortellini) didn’t really go as well as I would have liked. Although I have made tortellini once before (under the watchful eye of an expert) I completely underestimated how long it would take to roll enough tortellini to feed five hungry mouths!

Plan B (Operation Ravioli) turned out to be much more successful but was still pretty time consuming. Thankfully my fellow diners were suitably impressed with the results and so was I. It ticked all the boxes – fresh and light but filling and full of flavour.

Spring may not be quite living up to expectations just yet but if it keeps providing me with opportunities to practise my pasta-making technique, I’ll happily keep my complaining to a minimum!

Basil and ricotta ravioli (Serves 5-6)

Pasta

  • 500gm “00” (strong) plain flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 10ml olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Filling

  • 400gm firm ricotta
  • 2 onions, diced finely
  • 1/3 bunch basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp oregano powder
  • 2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • sea salt

Sauce

  • 1kg baby roma tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup good quality parmesan, grated
  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • 4 slices prosciutto (baked for about 5 mins until crisp)
  1. To make the pasta, mix ingredients together to form a dough. Knead lightly and then let it rest for at least 30 minutes (it will become more supple and easier to handle). The general rule for pasta is 100gm flour to each egg so if you need to, you can add or subtract based on the number of people you’re serving.
  2. To start the sauce, cut the tomatoes in half, arrange on a tray and sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper and salt. Roast in an oven at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until soft (add the garlic cloves about half way through). Leave to cool.
  3. To make the filling, caramelise the onion in a little olive oil for about 15 minutes. Once cooked, mix through with the ricotta, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and egg. Set aside.
  4. Once the pasta has rested, divide into four pieces. Roll through a pasta machine until you have a smooth pasta dough. Roll the pieces into thin sheets, sprinkle with extra flour and cover with a lightly damp tea towel until ready to use.
  5. Take a sheet of the pasta and dot teaspoon amounts of the filling leaving a gap of about 2 centimetres between each. Brush another pastry sheet with egg wash or water and place over the top, pressing down around the filling to secure and make sure there aren’t any air pockets. Continue this process until all the sheets and filling have been used.
  6. Cut between each piece of ravioli as desired (you could use a round cutter or just tidy up to make squares). You should end up with about 50 pieces. Cook in rapidly boiling water for about 8 minutes.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, place the baked tomatoes and garlic in a fry pan to thicken. Add salt, pepper and extra balsamic to taste. Throw in the parsley and stir through. Once the pasta is cooked, toss through the sauce and serve with grated parmesan, crispy prosciutto and extra parsley.
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