If Grandma were a dish, she would have been home made pasta, ravioli, actually!
Since I was young, Grandma used to make homemade fresh pasta on holidays. She closed herself in her kitchen and she came out later with a wooden tray, lined with paper and dusted with semolina flour. The tray was always crammed of spinach ravioli. I know, it’s strange, but when I remember those moments, the most lively detail is the tray: enormous, strong, made by my granddad Biagio, a master with wood works.
The most popular Tuscan ravioli are those made in Maremma, made with a filling of ricotta cheese and spinach, sometimes with an hint of marjoram, with wide edges of pasta all around the soft heart. This is what my friend from Follonica, Claudia, calls marciapiede, pavement.
Grandma has always used spinach and nutmeg, they taste like Sunday, a table set with the best cutlery, dinner service, and cloth napkins.
- Fresh pasta ingredients
- 150 g tender wheat flour
- 150 g durum wheat semolina flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium eggs
- Cold water
- 200 g spinach, boiled and well drained
- 100 g fresh ricotta cheese
- 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 sprig of marjoram
- 1 egg
- To make the ravioli filling drain and press the spinach dry, then chop them finely with a knife. Add the fresh ricotta cheese, one egg and the grated Parmigiano.
- Mix thoroughly with a fork and season with a good pinch of salt, some grated nutmeg and a few marjoram leaves. It should be quite firm as a filling.
- Sift the tender wheat flour with the semolina flour, pour them on a wooden board or a large working surface and make a well in the middle.
- Break in the eggs and add a good pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Mix the flour and the eggs with a fork until crumbly, then knead the dough, adding cold water if needed.
- Keep on kneading, more and more, as to develop the gluten which will give strength to the sheets of pasta. Just do as when you knead the bread: hold it with one hand while you roll it from you with the other, with the heel of the palm.
- After a while the dough should have the right consistency: smooth, velvety and no longer sticky.
- Wrap it in plastic film and let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Now roll the dough. The most important thing, whether you’re using a classic long rolling pin or a pasta machine, is to roll it over and over again, rolling and stretching it as much as you can.
- Make a paper thin wide sheet of pasta: make long paper thin strips of pasta, about 10 cm wide. Lay them on a floured tablecloth.
- Put little mounds of spinach and ricotta filling – about one teaspoon each - at regular intervals onto the strips. Cover with another sheet of pasta and press gently with your fingers all around the filling, to seal it. With a scalloped pastry cutter cut the ravioli, leaving about an inch of pasta all around the filling. Put the ravioli on to a floured tray in one layer.
- To cook the ravioli bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt the water and pour a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in it: this will prevent ravioli from sticking to each other.
- Cook ravioli in batches, according to the size of the pot.
- When they rise to top, which will be in about 5 minutes, remove them gently with a large slotted spoon and place them on a large deep plate.
My favourite seasoning for ravioli is the classic one, the most simple you can imagine: fresh pasta and such a delicate filling speak for themselves. Melt a knob of butter in a small pan with some sage leaves until they get crisp. Pour the brown butter and the sage leaves over the ravioli, sprinkle with a lot of grated Parmigiano and serve hot.