Although I live in Italy and have eaten (and loved) Italian food almost all my adult life, I’ve never actually tried to make my own pasta. Today I put that right with thanks to an online cooking lesson with Cinzia in Florence booked through Travelling Spoon. Together we made ravioli stuffed with ricotta and nutmeg served with a delicious zucchini and garlic sauce and finished off with freshly grated parmesan. I don’t have a pasta machine or any special equipment so this was made with a rolling pin and a pizza cutter!
300g plain flour 3 large eggs 250g ricotta cheese grated nutmeg 4 large zucchini (courgettes) 2 cloves of garlic A chunk of parmesan A handful of peeled almonds (optional) Olive oil
We started by making the pasta. Put 300g plain flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle and crack in the eggs. Mix with a fork until the ingredients start to stick together and then turn onto a smooth board. Work the mixture until it comes together and forms and smooth pliable dough. Cover with film or put in a plastic bag and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Whilst the pasta is resting prepare the sauce. First, chop the zucchini into small cubes.
Next, peel and finely chop the garlic. A top tip from Cinzia…if you cut each clove in half and remove the germ (see photos below) the dish will taste better, particularly if the garlic is older. I’d never heard of this before but it seems that plenty of people have written about it!
Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a pan, add the chopped garlic and then the zucchini once it starts to fry. This will prevent the garlic from burning. Stir well before adding salt, pepper and tightly fitting lid. Turn down the heat and leave to cook down while you prepare the pasta…but don’t forget about it! You will need to give it a stir every 7-8 minutes.
Now the fun part!
Place the pasta dough on a floured board. I don’t have a pasta machine so I rolled the pasta by hand. I thought this would be difficult which is why I’ve never tried but it really wasn’t as the dough was soft and pliable. You can find some good videos of how to do this elsewhere. The pasta dough needs to be as thin as you can get it. You will probably need to divide the dough up or it will end up too big for your board/surface, as mine did!
Cut your piece down the middle lengthways and then spoon heaped teaspoons of mixure along one of the strips at regular intervals, grating some nutmeg on top. Place the other strip on top, pressing around each mound with your fingers to ensure the ravioli is properly sealed. Using a pizza cutter (or a special pasta tool) divide the ravioli up. You can use the back of a fork for decoration and to make sure the individual pockets are properly sealed, otherwise you will lose your filling when the pasta is in the pan.
Put a pan of water on to boil and add a pinch of salt. Once the water reaches a rolling boil add three or four ravioli and cook for 3 minutes. Whilst that’s happening you can finish off your sauce. The zucchini should now have broken down. Grate in a chunk of parmesan, adding a little water from the pasta pan to melt the cheese. Place the cooked ravioli on a plate topping with the zucchini and garlic sauce, more parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. For additional texture you can also sprinkle over a handful of chopped peeled almonds.
I know this is a longer recipe than normal with many more steps but it was great fun learning to make fresh pasta with Cinzia and I will definately be having another go! If you decide to make a different pasta shape such as tagliatelle or lasagne the process will obviously be much quicker. I was worried the ravioli would open when I cooked them but sealing with a fork definitely helps. And the dish really was delicious. Buon appetito!