Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Sage Butter

Master the ultimate ravioli combination with this recipe for freshly-made Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Sage Butter, as seen on the BBC series Britain's Best Home Cook.

Britain's Best Home Cook
From the book Britain's Best Home Cook
By

Introduction

Making your own pasta does take a bit of time, but if you have a pasta machine the process is reasonably straightforward and the rewards are great, as home-made ravioli truly is a thing of beauty.

Serves 4-6
Prep time: 1 h 55 min
Cook time: 15 min
Total time: 2 h 10 min

Ingredients

360g (12½oz) 00 flour, or strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
4 eggs
200g (7oz) fresh spinach, washed and drained
200g (7oz) ricotta
40g (1½oz) Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
grated zest of 1 lemon
20g (¾oz) fresh sage leaves, stalks discarded
1 garlic clove, crushed
100g (4oz) unsalted butter
sea salt and black pepper

Essential kit

You will need: a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and a pasta machine.

Instructions

1. Put the flour, eggs and a large pinch of salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix gently until it comes together. It may seem very dry at first, but it will gradually form a dough. If, after a minute or so, it still seems crumbly, add in one to two teaspoons of water, kneading after each addition. Continue to knead for 6–8 minutes until the dough is smooth and stretchy, and springs back when you press your finger into it. Divide the dough into four equal pieces, wrap tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the spinach into a large dry frying pan and place over a high heat. Cook the spinach, turning frequently, for 3–5 minutes until it has completely wilted down. Drain in a sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible, then wrap in a clean tea towel and press out any remaining liquid, so the spinach is as dry as possible. Finely chop the spinach and transfer to a bowl, together with the ricotta, Parmesan and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper and set to one side.

3. Put the sage, garlic and butter into a pan large enough to hold all the pasta once cooked. Place over a medium–low heat until the butter melts, simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

4. Take one portion of dough from the fridge, remove the clingfilm and lightly dust the dough with flour. Flatten with a rolling pin to the width of your pasta machine. Feed the dough through on the widest setting, then fold each side of the dough to the centre, as if you were folding a letter to fit inside an envelope. Feed the dough through on the widest setting again. Adjust the rollers to the next setting and roll the dough through the pasta machine again. Continue to roll the dough through the machine, decreasing the thickness by one setting each time and dusting with a little more flour if it becomes sticky. Do not be tempted to skip settings on the pasta machine, otherwise the dough may tear.

5. Once you have rolled it through on the thinnest setting, cut the long sheet of pasta in half widthways. Lay one length on a floured work surface and set the other half to one side, covered with a clean damp tea towel.

6. Place teaspoonfuls of the ricotta mixture at even intervals along the middle of the pasta sheet, using no more than about a quarter of the mixture. You should be able to fit about nine teaspoons of filling along the sheet of pasta.

7. Using a pastry brush and water, dampen the pasta around the ricotta filling. Now take the other half sheet of pasta and carefully lay it over the ricotta, gently pressing down around the mounds of filling and pushing out any air pockets. Using a sharp knife, trim the pasta into evenly sized squares of ravioli, then lay them out on a tray, dust with a little flour and cover with clingfilm. Keep the trimmings for other pasta dishes, or to throw into a soup. Roll out and fill the remaining three pieces of pasta in the same way.

8. When ready to serve, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and place the pan of sage butter over a low heat. Cook the ravioli (in batches if necessary) in the boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the pan of sage butter. Gently stir to combine, then serve immediately with a little more Parmesan and black pepper.

Tip: If you are vegetarian, look for vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese, as Parmesan is made with animal rennet.

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