Ravioli, or cappaletti as I insist on calling them, to general incomprehension, is one of my favourite meals of all time.  When I was about 7 and my brother was about 5, we went to Italy and stayed in a beautiful house with a spiral staircase.  It was here my family first discovered ravioli/cappaletti/tortellini, and me and my brother loved them so much we insisted on eating them every day for the rest of the holiday.  I have a vague memory of sitting on the spiral staircase, waiting for dinner to be ready in order to get my hands on some more delicious pasta – probably missing out on the numerous other delicious specialities Italy has to offer.  Still, it was worth it.

I’ve been planning to make them from scratch for ages, but never quite had enough time.  Here’s where unemployment actually becomes useful.  And it turns out you don’t even need a pasta maker! You do need fairly indefatigable biceps and triceps, as the rolling out is hard work, but the reward is so delicious that you’ll start having wild dreams of giving up the fruitless job search in favour of starting your own restaurant featuring only different sorts of filled pasta.  Trust me.  Try it.

I scrabbled together three recipes to make these, one fairly straightforward pasta dough, a delicious sounding filling, and a tomato sauce off Willow Bird Baking.  The rolling out is a pain, you have to get the dough so thin you can see through it, which is not easily done without some sort of extra help, and to be fair mine were a little too thick for true comfort.   The true test moment was the dropping of the fresh pasta into boiling water, I was certain they would all fall apart and our hard work would be for nothing.  However, blessedly, it all turned out ok and me and my eating companion ended up with more ravioli than we could comfortably eat and remain sitting down without loosening our belts.

Recipe(s)

Filling (adapted from)

2 tbsp Olive Oil
Half a circle of  Chorizo, finely chopped
2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
100g/4oz Rocket, chopped
225g/8oz Ricotta Cheese
Salt and pepper

Fry everything except the ricotta and seasoning together, allow to cool, then add the ricotta.  Try not to eat too much of it before putting it into the pasta.

Pasta

390 g plain flour
5 egg yolks
½ tsp salt
Water

Beat the eggs and add to the flour with the salt, mix to form a dough.   This might take a while and require the adding of extra flour.  Kneed for 10 mins and then rest for 20.  Break off a smallish piece (original recipe calls for a golfball sized piece but you can get away with bigger) and roll out until paper thin (that’s the hard part).  Using a glass or round pastry cutter, cut out holes.  Fill these with about a teaspoon or less of the filling, you’ll learn on the job, basically as much as you can fit in without it spilling hopelessly over the edges.  Using some of the egg white, fold the circle in half and glue together.  Press down the edges firmly.

Apparently you can freeze them, I wouldn’t know because I troughed them all on this occasion, but I’m sure it’s so.

Sauce (adapted from)

1 can chopped tomatoes
squeeze tomato puree
1 tablespoon dried oregano
chopped fresh basil to taste
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Because there was already so much meat in the pasta, we took the meat option out of Willow Bird Baking’s recipe, and added some large handfuls of rocket (as you can see in the photo).  Willow Bird’s recipe doesn’t cook the sauce, leaving it to be heated by the pasta, but we cooked it, as follows.  Heat olive oil in the pan, then fry the herbs and garlic together.  Add chopped tomatoes and puree.  Simmer while you desperately assemble ravioli (about 20 minutes) then add basil and serve.  Easy!

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