Spinach, ricotta and pine nut ravioli

It’s not often that I cook a vegetarian dish but this combination of spinach, ricotta and pine nuts was a delight. Rich, creamy ricotta with the distinct flavour of spinach and the crunch of toasted pine nuts, all contained in a delicate parcel of pasta and finished off in a creamy sauce – I can guarantee you won’t go to bed dissatisfied!

I’ve now experimented with homemade pasta twice, first off was a simple spaghetti bolognese before using up leftovers to make bolognese ravioli. The great thing about ravioli is that there are endless options for fillings – I can’t wait to get properly stuck in and combine bbq, smoked meat with beautiful parcels of pasta – but that is for another day.

Having got stuck in with very little knowledge first time, the second went a lot more smoothly, so I decided I was finally able to take some photos and write up the recipe third time lucky. I’ve still got a lot to learn and every time I cook with pasta I pick up little things but I’m really enjoying it and the results are well worth the effort;  a lighter, more delicate and much tastier pasta.

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Ricotta, spinach and pine nuts complement each other perfectly, providing a beautiful delicate filling both rich enough to pique your taste buds but allowing the full flavour and texture of the pasta to shine through.

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I adapted this dish from vague memories of a Gordon Ramsay recipe I remember seeing when I first thought about making fresh pasta.

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It definitely didn’t disappoint and both my wife and little boy ate every morsel on their plates!

Recipe:

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Ingredients:

for the pasta:

200g ’00’ flour

2 large eggs

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

for the filling:

1 bag organic spinach

250g ricotta

15g pine nuts

1 garlic clove, minced

15g parmesan, grated

salt

pepper

knob of butter

for the sauce:

reserved water from the spinach

100ml double cream

salt

pepper

splash of extra virgin olive oil

Method:

The first time I made ravioli I went for the messy, traditional way and got properly stuck in:

  1. Place your flour on your work surface. With your fingers create a crater in the centre.
  2. Crack your eggs into the crater and add a splash of oil.
  3. With a fork, begin to whisk the eggs together, slowly incorporating small amounts of flour.
  4. Once your egg is fully combined, with your hands mix it together with any remaining flour and begin to knead until you have a dough. If it is sticky to touch, add a little more flour.

This time, however, I decided to adopt a more modern approach – using a mixer:

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Throw all your ingredients for the pasta into a mixing bowl.

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Bind them together using a food processor.

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Once you have the beginnings of a dough, scatter a little flour on your work surface and knead until it comes together into a smooth ball. If it is sticky to touch, add a little more flour.

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With both methods, place your dough into a clean bowl and cover to rest for at least 30 minutes. I felt that the more modern approach gave a smoother, better mixed consistency at this point, (may just be down to my abilities) and it was certainly less messy but there was very little difference once it had rested and the pasta was being rolled out.

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Toast your pine nuts in a saucepan over a medium/high heat and reserve.

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Add a knob of butter to a saucepan over a medium/high heat. Once your butter has melted, add your minced garlic and all your spinach.

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Season and stir until your spinach has fully wilted. Strain, reserving the liquid for the pasta sauce.

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Chop up your strained wilted spinach and throw into a mixing bowl.

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Add the ricotta, toasted pine nuts and parmesan before mixing well. Place in the fridge to chill.

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Once your dough has rested, scatter a little flour on your surface and flatten slightly. If you are like me and a novice I’d recommend dividing the pasta into 4 and repeating the following steps with each quarter.

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Pass the dough through your pasta machine on it’s widest setting. Fold in half and pass through again. If it gets a little sticky add a little flour. Try and fold irregular sides each time to give yourself a rectangular shape.

Once you’ve passed it through at the widest setting 6-8 times, turn the knob down one setting and pass your pasta through – no need to fold in half anymore. Continue to do this, turning the knob a setting each time until you have passed through the narrowest setting.

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Lightly dust your work surface before laying down your sheet of pasta (or sheets if you divided it before – I got a little more confident half way through and did two quarters and then a half).

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With a sharp knife cut off the ends so that you have a rectangle.

Take your filling out of the fridge and spoon small balls onto the middle of your pasta sheet with equal spacing. I wanted my ravioli to be roughly 7cm wide, so marked out the first few before estimating the rest.

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Brush one side of your sheet with either an egg wash or water and fold over the opposite side just beyond your filling.

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With your little fingers press down on either side of each ball of filling, removing any air.

Fold over once more, pressing down again to seal.

With a pastry cutter, slice between each ball of filling to create your ravioli parcels.

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Add salt and a splash of olive oil to a pan of boiling water. Throw in your ravioli and cook for 3 minutes. Stir or twist your pan to ensure the ravioli doesn’t stick.

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Meanwhile, add your reserved spinach water, cream, a splash of olive oil and some seasoning to a large frying pan – I used a wok – and bring to the boil.

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After 3 minutes, with a slotted spoon, transfer your ravioli to the sauce and simmer for a further 1 minute.

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Spoon your ravioli onto a warm bowl, top with a little sauce and grated parmesan and serve immediately.

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My wife prefers pasta without grated parmesan – still works beautifully.

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