After weeks of rolling out pasta dough by hand, ending up as a sweaty mess with arms no more toned than before, I invested in a pasta machine. I think I might be in love! It makes the whole process so much quicker and easier. I was a bit reluctant to spend too much on what might just be a cooking phase, but didn't want to buy a cheap machine that may fall to pieces after just a few uses. After lots of online research, I discovered the Marcato Atlas 150 Wellness Pasta Machine on Amazon. It had fantastic reviews and only cost around £40.
Anyway, on with the recipe...
This recipe serves 2 people, great for impressing on date night! I'm not going to lie to you and say that this is a super quick and easy meal. It takes some time, mainly during the assembly stage, but it is so worth the effort. Especially when you compare homemade fresh pasta with shop bought dried pasta.
Pasta dough is honestly one of the simplest things to make. It is basically 100g of Pasta Flour (type '00' flour) and 1 egg, per person.
So for this recipe you will need:
200g Pasta Flour
2 Free Range Eggs
Pour the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Break the eggs into the well and begin to mix from the middle outwards using a fork. Continue mixing until combined. Every egg is different so if the dough seems dry simply add a little water, or if it seems a bit wet, just add a little more flour.
Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and place on a clean work surface.
This is where is gets a little tougher. Knead the dough until it is fully combined and has an even colour. It is not too late to add either water or flour at this stage if the dough isn't quite right. Mine was too dry so I worked in some water. Form the dough into a ball and cover with clingfilm, then leave to rest for at least half an hour.
While you're waiting, you can start on the filling...
You will need:
75g Ricotta Cheese
75g Spinach (or around 2 frozen cubes)
75g Bread Crumbs
10g Grated Parmesan
1 free range egg (+ another yolk if the mix seems dry)
Salt & Pepper
Top Tip 1:
We save any stale bread (a good quality crusty loaf works well) and pop it in the blender. Simply whizz the bread up until you have fine breadcrumbs. We then put it all into a plastic container and leave it in the freezer until we need it. This is a great way of saving money and reducing waste.
Top Tip 2:
Rather than buying a huge bag of spinach leaves, which I just know I won't get through before it goes off, we've started buying frozen spinach. It comes in bags of small cubes and is available in most supermarkets. Just pop the cubes into boiling water until the spinach has completely separated, then drain and squeeze it out with kitchen roll.
First, cook the spinach in boiling water, then drain. Leave to cool and squeeze out most of the water. Then put all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork until fully combined. Pop this in the fridge while you do the next step.
After giving your dough half an hour (or longer) it is time to roll out. Grab a ball of dough smaller than the size of a tennis ball (otherwise your sheet of pasta will be really long and difficult to work with). Make sure to keep the rest of the dough covered with clingfilm to stop it from drying out. Taking your small section of dough, flatten it down slightly with the palm of your hand to make it easier to run through the machine. Flour your surface with fine semolina and press the flattened dough into it to prevent it from sticking in the machine.
Top Tip 3:
Using fine semolina here means that, during the cooking process, the semolina will drop to the bottom of the pan. Whereas pasta flour would stick to the pasta, making it thicker and heavier - less yummy!
Feed the flattened dough into the machine slowly, on the lowest setting. I try to put it through once then turn it around and put it through again, in order to get a good width. After this, continue feeding it through, each time moving up a setting.
Top Tip 4:
Flour the surface next to your machine with fine semolina so that every now and again you can easily run the pasta sheet though it to prevent sticking.
For this recipe I go up to about 6 or 7. I find that settings 8 and 9 on my machine make the pasta too thin meaning the filling can break through. The best test is to lay your pasta sheet down on a semolina covered surface and blow it from the side. If the pasta sheet ripples well then it is thin enough. If not, it is too thick, so run it through the machine a couple more times on the next setting. Continue this process for all of the dough, remembering to cover the spare each time.
Using a knife or pasta cutter, trim the ends of the pasta sheets so they are straight. Then take small balls of filling and place them along the middle of the sheet with space between.
Wet the pasta around these filling balls slightly with water, using a pastry brush.
Then, fold the pasta sheet over in half, pressing around each filling ball to seal it and push the air out. Then cut along the long edge and in between each ball to create your ravioli shape.
Continue this process until all the filling and pasta has been used, placing the finished ravioli on a semolina covered surface so they don't stick.
Simply drop all the ravioli into salted boiling water and cook for around 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta floats.
My boyfriend made a simple garlic and parsley sauce to go with the ravioli this time, which was lovely and so quick. For this you just need to finely chop a couple of cloves of garlic and a handful of parsley, making the garlic into a paste. Then put this into a wok or large frying pan with a little butter or olive oil. When the garlic is cooked, add roughly half a ladle of the pasta water. This stops the garlic from burning and makes the sauce creamier. Once the ravioli is cooked, drain and put it all into the wok with the sauce, tossing it to coat well.
You could also make a more traditional sage and butter sauce which is lovely too!
Serve with a little grated parmesan on top and enjoy!