Since moving to Berlin Harry and I have definitely cut down on the amount of meat that we eat. I’ve always wanted to eat less meat, but make sure that when I do it’s better quality. Now, when I’m standing with two versions of chicken in front of me and one costs £3 and the other costs £10, I can’t tell you that I always make the ‘right’ choice, but what I have done is made increasingly more interesting vegetarian meals, which is where this ravioli comes in.
If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it might be pasta. Don’t quote me on that, because I reserve the right to change my mind, but pasta is all that is good and wholesome. It wins points for sheer simplicity alone (flour and eggs, who would’ve thought it?!), and then when you add its versatility we’re onto a winner. Deep rich ragu sauces for wintry days, light zesty sauces for the summer, meat, fish, seafood or veg: pasta is always there for you.
Making your own pasta always seems like a complicated and, to be quite honest, show-offy thing to do, but I can promise you that it’s simpler and quicker than you think, as well as being really enjoyable to make. I find that there’s something about dough in general that’s incredibly cathartic, whether it’s pasta, bread or pastry. You can lose yourself in the rhythm of kneading or rolling and concentrate what’s right in front of you.
I am immensely proud of this pasta. It was the perfect project for Sunday afternoon, feeling a little worse for wear after the night before, and making it soothed me as well as the results being really, truly delicious. It’s light and seasonal, with just enough mascarpone to add a little creaminess and richness that’s then cut by the acidity of a lemony brown butter sauce.
- 200g plain flour (contrary to popular belief you don’t need 00 flour)
- 2 eggs
- 250g spinach
- 1 nutmeg (you’ll use about 1/8)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp mascarpone
Brown butter sauce:
- 125g butter
- 4 tsp lemon juice
- First we begin with the pasta. Measure out the flour onto a wooden board or work surface and make a well in the middle. I tend to make the mistake of making too small of a well, which then means you end up with egg all over the place – don’t make my mistake. Instead make sure you build walls so you don’t have to tidy up.
- Add the eggs to the middle of the well and use a fork to beat the eggs and begin to bring the flour into the mix. When it’s firm enough to not flow everywhere get your hands stuck in and bring everything together into a dough.
- Knead until smooth – it shouldn’t take longer than 10 mins (and that’s because I’m quite weak).
- The dough now needs to rest for at least half an hour, so wrap it in some cling film and leave it to the side. Don’t bother putting it in the fridge or it will be more difficult to work with later.
- Now it’s time to crack on with the filling. Sauté the spinach over a medium heat with the garlic slices until wilted, before adding in about 1/8 of the nutmeg. Keep tasting as you go and adjust if necessary.
- Once the spinach is cooked pat it gently between some paper towels – the wetter the filling, the more likely it is that the ravioli will split as it cooks. So it’s to be avoided.
- Transfer the spinach to a food processor and blitz before adding the mascarpone bit by bit. As I say, you need to ensure that the filling is still fairly stiff. Season to taste.
- Now it’s time to roll out that dough. This is where a pasta roller really comes into it’s own. I’ve tried by hand and I was left frustrated with super thick dough – I’m afraid I am not yet the Italian Nonna I wish to become. Cut the dough in half to make it easier to manage, then roll out by hand or flatten the pasta so it’s rectangular and feed it through the lowest setting. Roll through twice to build up strength in the dough before moving onto the next thickness.
- Keep going. My roller has 9 settings and for ravioli I stop at 8 so it’s not too thin. You should be able to see light through it, but if you could read you’ve gone too far.
- Repeat with the other half to the dough.
- Next, lay out your sheet and measure out with your cutter roughly where you’ll be cutting the pasta. Dollop about a teaspoon of filling in the centre of where each ravioli will be along the dough, before circling the edges with a little water or beaten egg.
- Gently place your other sheet on top, and press down firmly around each blob of filling. Use a ravioli cutter, knife, cookie cutter or glass to cut out each ravioli – whatever you’ve got to hand – it doesn’t need to be fancy. Any offcuts of pasta can be balled up and run back through the pasta roller for even more – want not, waste not!
- Transfer the ravioli to a floured tray. If you have semolina flour this is perfect as its coarse texture is really effective at making sure they don’t stick, but no worries if not (as you can see from the above pic, I did not).
- Now the pasta is done we’re nearly there! Put a pan of salted water onto boil while you make the brown butter sauce. In a separate man lob in all of the butter and let it melt over a medium heat. While you want this to brown you don’t want it completely burnt.
- When the butter starts to bubble and foam add in the lemon juice. Swirling the pan helps to combine everything and get any remaining unmelted butter to melt.
- Watch closely. You want it to be a light caramel colour – when it gets to this stage take it off the heat, taste and season.
- Once you pan of salted water boils gently add in the ravioli. It will take around 3-4 mins to cook.
- Serve up the pasta with a drizzle of brown butter sauce and enjoy your hard work!