Monday, June 27, 2016

Fresh ricotta ravioli with butter and sage

For the fresh pasta:
200 g all-purpose unbleached flour (7.055 oz.; 1.60 c), 100 g semolina flour (3.527 oz.; .57 c), 3 eggs, a pinch of salt.
For the filling: 400 g fresh sheep ricotta (.88 lb.; 3.25 c), 600 g spinach or chard (2-1/2 c), 3-4 TBSP grated Parmesan, a pinch of salt, ground nutmeg and black pepper to taste, zest of one lemon or 1-2 TBSP marjoram leaves.
120 g butter (apx. ½ c), 1 large handful of fresh sage leaves, grated Parmesan.

Prepare the filling: start by blanching the greens in just a little water (you don’t want them floating, if using spinach you might even just cook them barely with the water left on from washing them) for a few minutes. Drain them well and let them cool; when cool enough to handle, squeeze them well from any extra water (a sushi mat works very well for this purpose) and chop them very very finely. Drain ricotta very well, then pass it through a sieve or work it with a wooden spoon to make it smooth; mix it with greens, Parmesan, lemon zest or marjoram  leaves if using, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Make a homogeneous and rather consistent mixture (it shouldn’t be wet).
Sift flour on your working surface into a mound and make a well in the center. Break in the eggs, add a pinch of salt, and beat them lightly with a fork; gently draw in the flout without allowing eggs to escape. Once eggs are rather mixed with flour and no more running out, start to knead the dough, until it gets soft and elastic, and doesn’t stick to your fingers anymore. Work with clean hands (brush off any dry bits of flour) and eventually dust them with more semolina to avoid sticking. After about ten minutes, once you have a smooth silky ball of dough, wrap it in cling film or in a cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes. After this time, you can roll the dough with a rolling pin or with the pasta machine. Divide the ball in 2-3 pieces; keep covered the pieces you are not working on. If you are using a rolling pin, roll the dough out on a floured board at 1-2 mm thickness working from the center out, until you have an even surface. Either you are using a rolling pin or the machine, it is important to work the dough well, rolling and stretching. We used the machine, so we had the piece of dough passing through the machine cylinders, at first through the thickest setting, for 2-3 times, folding the dough over itself; then we kept moving on to next settings, rolling the dough through each of them until the second thinnest setting, in order to have thin sheets of dough. It’s possible to make long stripes, about 10 cm large, then lay them on floured board and place small mounds of filling evenly spaced apart (about 3 cm) all along the stripe; then cover with another pasta stripe and press with your fingers all around the filling, to let air out and seal the pasta. Generally it must be done quickly, otherwise fresh pasta dries and it’s hard to close ravioli (eventually you can brush the sides of the stripe with a little water of egg whites). Cut ravioli out with a roller cutter, leaving about 1-2 cm of past around the filling. Alternatively, you can make larger stripes, place the filling on the longer side closer to you and fold the dough over onto the filling. Then proceed as above to shape and cut ravioli.
Or you can use a round cookie cutter (8-9 cm) to cut pasta circles, then spoon a heaping teaspoon of the filling onto the bottom part of each circle of dough (slightly off the center) and fold each circle over in half; then pinch the edges together with a fork to seal ravioli. Arrange ravioli on a tray as you do them, sprinkled with some semolina, without overlapping them, until you have used all of your dough.

Melt the butter to a golden color into a pan with the shredded sage leaves, until they get crisp (or you can bring the butter to noisette* for a deeper flavor). Cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water, for about 6 minutes. Remove them gently with a slotted spoon and immediately add them to the pan to coat them well with the scented butter. Serve with grated Parmesan on top.

* Unsalted butter is melted over low heat and allowed to separate into butterfat and solids from milk. The milk solids naturally sink to the bottom of the pan and, if left over gentle heat, will begin to brown. As the milk solids reach a toasty hazelnut color, the pan is removed from the heat. Beurre noisette may be used in its liquid state, or cooled to a solid form. It has a nutty flavor.

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