It was the Sunday after a late Saturday night. And I hadn’t been girl scout enough to think, make a list and shop for what we would eat that day. So it was with a bit of trepidation in my step that I opened the fridge door to look within and scan for inspiration. Leftovers and ‘bits’ are wonderful prompters for the imagination. After thirty seconds of looking, however, I shut the fridge door and resigned myself to the sad fact that my imagination was AOL. Partying can do that to you in the early hours of the following day. Sigh. I looked at the clock — shops would be shutting very soon and I wouldn’t be able to get ready in time to go out and do a proper ‘shop’, and so unless we decided to eat out the only solution would be to dig my heels in and just use whatever I found in the fridge, even without the benefit of imagination.
This is what I found: eggs, parmesan cheese, a little bit of ricotta, a plate of spinach, a few tomatoes. Default brain response was: Okay — time for spinach and ricotta ravioli.
MAKING PASTA THE LAZY WAY
Just throw everything into the food processor. ‘Everything’ meant: 3 eggs and 300g of sifted flour and a pinch of salt.
This is what comes out, after about 2 minutes, the pasta dough which is then shaped into a ball. This ball of dough must be kneaded now with your hands, on a surface with some flour strewn over it, until it is warm and elastic. You have to knead it until, in pasta-making parlance, it is as soft as a baby’s bottom. You know it’s ready when you can prod it with a finger, and the deep dent you’ve created closes up.
And now the dough must rest, for at least half an hour. Everywhere I read, I see that we are told to wrap the pasta dough in plastic and put it in the fridge. And I never do – especially not in the fridge — pasta dough hates being cold. However, you decide what it is you prefer. I folded the pasta dough in the clean warmth of a T-towel.
THE PASTA FILLING
For this you will need 1 beaten egg yolk, 250g ricotta cheese, a large handful of previously wilted spinach, which you’ve then squeezed to get rid of its liquid, as much grated parmesan cheese as you like, a pinch of salt and pepper, and another pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Put all these ingredients inside a mixing bowl and mix well. It’s a good idea to cut up the spinach first — it makes it easier to mix the filling properly.
MAKING THE SFOGLIA
The pasta dough needs to be stretched into what is called the ‘sfoglia’ : this is egg pasta dough that is ‘flattened’, i.,e. rolled with the aid of a wooden rolling pin (if you have a machine, you can roll it out with your pasta machine). The shape of the sfoglia has to be as circular as possible and as thin as possible. You know that your sfoglia is thin enough and ready for use when, if you blow underneath it, it will lift! I wasn’t able to take photos of me rolling out the pasta this time, so I am adding two photos which were taken on another occasion to give you an idea:
MAKING THE RAVIOLI
There are many ways to cut up the sfoglia for ravioli … and this time I decided to use a biscuit cutter (you could even use a glass). Basically, what one does is create little discs of pasta which will ‘sandwich’ the spinach and ricotta filling. The following photos are quite self explanatory I think:
You can see the bowl with the spinach and ricotta filling at the back … a glass of water and the biscuit cuttter … and my sfoglia looking a mess. The water will be needed later on when we want the discs to cleave together … a little bit of water makes the pasta ‘stickier’.