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Monday
Feb042013

Sundried Tomato & Ricotta Ravioli with White Wine Sauce

... aka Cream of Hearts

Pink pasta hearts filled with ricotta and sundried tomatoes, smothered in white wine cream sauce and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

I don't write poetry or have any sentimental attachment to cards given no matter the occasion. I'm not particularly fond of cheap fluffy toys or heart shaped boxes of chocolate given on Valentine's. But, I am a romantic. 

I love the idea of getting a vibrant bouquet of flowers delivered at work. I like little gestures that say I was being thought of, even if it's a token like a new book by a favourite author or something silly like my favourite box of "naughty" cereal appearing on a Saturday. 

Some might not think those are particularly romantic gestures, but they make me smile and feel special, and I think that's what romance is all about. 

In return, I might sneak hubby's favourite chocolate into the weekly shop or deliver his coffee with a kiss and a cuddle. Sometimes it'll be an unsuspecting back scratch that makes hubby break out in goosebumps, a simple text message or randomly shouting out "LOVE YOU!" while pottering around the house. 

All you need to make your own pasta from scratchPureéd beetroot to make the pasta red

So what does all this mushy gushy stuff have to do with this recipe? It's simple. One of my favourite ways to say "I love you" is with something I've cooked up in the kitchen. 

This particular meal was inspired by the culmination of many, many, MANY visits to the Italian School of Cooking in Dublin. If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen the photos from some of those classes. If you've seen those photos, you'll understand why I keep going back. It's just so much fun!

I'm back so often that I've been named an honourary Italian and part of the family. I'm also their official unofficial photographer ;)

Sundried tomatoes marinated in olive oil

Isabella & Giuseppe. Great teachers and good friends

I've always loved Italian food, but Giuseppe and Isabella have made it more than just food. Having fun in their classes, I've realised that Italian food is actually very similar to Greek food, which I grew up with. It's more than just a meal. It's all about sharing the meal with friends and family while chatting and laughing. It's the experience. 

I've also learnt how darn easy it is to make!

 

All sorts of people come to the classes. Kitchen nuts like me, boyfriends who never step into the kitchen other than to raid the fridge for leftovers, moms, sisters, aunts, grandfathers, brothers. Those who know what a spoonula is, those who think it's some sort of exotic ingredient. No matter what their skill level in the kitchen, they all walk out beaming after hand making their own pizza or pasta dough, from scratch.

 

One of the things I've learnt to make is ravioli. I won't give away their recipes for ravioli, you'll just have to sign up for a lesson yourself (and if you're not lucky enough to be in Ireland, I'm sorry!), but with a few bits of advice from Giuseppe I came up with my own recipe that's simple and tasty. I also like to think there's a nonna out there with the exact same recipe, proving my honourary Italian title has been earned.

I will have to admit though, this was a labour of love, in more ways than one. For some unknown reason I have yet to buy a pasta roller. I have a pasta extruder attachment for my KitchenAid (which I highly recommend!) but for some reason I haven't added the staple of a pasta machine to my collection of kitchen gadgets. So this pasta was made with elbow grease flour and a rolling pin ;)

Back to romance, I thought I'd have a little fun and get a somewhat cheesy with my ravioli. One times heart cookie cutter, one times ball of beetroot dyed pasta dough, and you get pink heart ravioli! Yeah I know, a little twee, but they turned out great and made hubby smile. 

Inside each heart, sweet ricotta and tangy marinated sundried tomatoes with a hint of parmesan and fresh basil.

Served with the same wine used in the sauce, a perfect pairing

I asked Giuseppe what he'd recommend for a sauce. I said I didn't want a tomato based sauce and was wondering if a cream one would be fine. (See, there are some rules when it comes to the marriage between pasta and sauce, for eg. chicken and pasta just doesn't happen, regardless of what's on offer in restaurants). I was hoping he would say a cream sauce would work, especially because I wanted to make a white wine cream sauce, and he assured me that it would be great.

Giuseppe was right. The combination was just amazing. A sweet yet earthy ravioli coated in a rich wine infused cream sauce, simply put, delicious. 

 

Valentine's or not, treat your special half (and yourself!) to this gorgeous meal and eat your heart out!

 

Pasta Dough

Make this at least a couple hours ahead to give the dough time to rest

(This makes dough for about 80 or more ravioli, so either double the filling and freeze your extra ravioli / tortellini / cannelloni, or use the extra dough to make any other pasta shape you like)

Ingredients

150g Semolina Flour

50g "00" Flour (Farina)

1 Large Egg

50g Cooked Beetroot, pureéd

15ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pinch of Salt

 

Method

  • In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt
  • Add the pureéd beetroot, egg and olive oil
  • Use a fork to roughly combine the wet and dry ingredients
  • Tip: This isn't necessary, I just don't like the feel of raw egg so I like to distribute it into the flour before getting stuck in with my hands
  • Start kneading the dough, bringing all the dry ingredients into the ball of dough
  • Tip: Don't be tempted to add any more liquid! The mixture will look impossibly dry to start with, but as you knead, it will all come together
  • Keep kneading until you have a smooth, non-sticky ball of dough with uniform colour (no streaks of lighter or darker areas). And, as Giuseppe instructs, the bowl is spotless! (This take between 10 - 15mins)
  • Tip: If after 10min you've still got dry flour in the bowl and your dough is crumbly (this can depend on your weather), add a few drops to a teaspoon of olive oil and keep kneading
  • Flatten your dough into a fat disc and wrap well in clingfilm
  • Leave to rest overnight in the fridge or out on the counter top for a few hours
  • Tip: If you're in a cool/cold climate, you can leave it out at room temperature over night
  • Tip: If you've had it in the fridge, leave out at room temp for a couple of hours before using

 

 

 

Ravioli Filling

Enough for between 30 - 40 ravioli

(If you're making this as a starter, I'd recommend serving 3 - 5 ravioli per person filled with 2 teaspoons of filling. If for a main, 8 - 10 ravioli per person filled with 1 generous teaspoon.)

Ingredients

250g Ricotta

1/3 cup Sundried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, drained and diced or finely sliced

5-6 Fresh Basil Leaves, chiffonade (finely sliced)

1/4 cup Fresh Parmesan, grated

Salt & Pepper to Taste

 

Method

  • In a medium bowl, use a fork to combine the ricotta, sundried tomatoes, basil and parmesan
  • Season with salt & pepper to taste
  • Tip: Because the parmesan is salty, season with less salt than normal

 

 

Making the Ravioli

Pasta Machine Method

  • Give your rested (room temp) pasta dough a light knead to warm it up
  • Divide your pasta into 6 balls
  • Form a thick disc with one of the balls of pasta
  • With your pasta machine set to the largest/thickest setting, run the pasta through the machine
  • Fold 2 sides of the pasta in towards each other so you have straight sides and the width will now be controlled
  • Run the pasta through the machine, still on the same (thickest) setting
  • Set your pasta machine 2 sizes thinner and run the pasta through the machine, resulting in pasta that's still the same width but now getting longer
  • Set your pasta machine another 2 sizes thinner and run the pasta through
  • Finally, set you pasta machine to the 2nd thinnest setting, and run the dough through again. You should now have a very thin and long strip of pasta
  • Tip: Depending on your pasta machine, you may only have enough settings to step down 3 times to reach the thinnest setting
  • Lay the pasta on a well floured surface
  • Repeat the above steps with a second ball of pasta dough
  • Lay the second strip of pasta next to your first
  • Form the ravioli as instructed further down
  • Repeat rolling the pasta and forming the ravioli, 2 strips at a time, until you've used up all the filling
  • Tip: Pasta dough starts to dry out very quickly, so to avoid your pasta being too dry to stick the two strips together, only work with 2 strips at a time, unless you've got helpers and you can form a pasta making conveyer belt!
  • Tip: You can knead and re-roll the scraps of pasta left over into any other shape of pasta you like

 

 

Rolling Pin Method

  • Give your rested (room temp) pasta dough a light knead to warm it up
  • Divide the dough into 6 balls
  • Form a thick rectangular disc
  • On a well floured surface and using a heavy rolling pin, start to roll the pasta lengthways, going from the middle away from you, and from the middle towards you
  • Tip: Don't roll the pasta from the one end to the other, always start in the middle and roll out
  • Make sure to move the dough around on the surface to stop it from sticking, also making sure to dust your rolling pin as needed
  • Keep rolling your dough until you have a long and thin strip of pasta, about 1mm thick
  • Set aside the pasta strip on a well floured surface
  • Repeat the above steps with a second ball of pasta dough
  • Lay the second strip of pasta next to your first
  • Form the ravioli as instructed further down
  • Repeat rolling out the pasta and forming the ravioli, 2 strips at a time, until you've used up all the filling
  • Tip: Pasta dough starts to dry out very quickly, so to avoid your pasta being too dry to stick the two strips together, only work with 2 strips at a time, unless you've got helpers and you can form a pasta making conveyer belt!
  • Tip: You can knead and re-roll the scraps of pasta left over into any other shape of pasta you like

 

 

Forming the Ravioli

  • Lay one strip of pasta in front of you on a floured surface and brush off any excess flour
  • Drop teaspoon full amounts of the ricotta filling along the pasta, about 5cm apart
  • Tip: To help with the spacing, place your cookie cutter on the one end of the pasta and drop the filling into the center, then move the cookie cutter over to the next position (making sure you won't overlap) and drop another teaspoon of filling onto the pasta in the center of the cutter
  • Tip: The amount of filling will depend on the size of your cookie cutter. I used a generous teaspoon of filling for my ravioli. If making regular square shaped ravioli, fill with about 2 teaspoons
  • Very lightly, use your finger dipped in water to wet the pasta around the filling
  • Tip: You don't want to see water on the surface, just enough to help the two sheets of pasta to stick
  • Brush the flour off the second strip of pasta and drape it loosely, flourless side down, over the first
  • Using your (dry) fingertips, shape the top sheet of pasta around each bump of filling, carefully making sure not to trap any air in the parcels
  • Firmly press the pasta in between each bump to seal the two sheets of pasta together
  • Use your cookie cutter to cut out your ravioli shapes, making sure the bump is in the center of the shape
  • Lay ravioli on a floured tray until ready to cook
  • Repeat pasta rolling and forming until you've used up all the filling

 

 

 

White Wine Cream Sauce

Enough for 2-3 servings, easily doubled or tripled for more

Ingredients 

1 cup Single (Whipping) Cream

1/2 cup Good Dry White Wine (I used Pinot Grigio)

1 clove Garlic, finely chopped or grated

Dash Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt to taste

 

Method

  • Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a medium large heavy pot
  • Tip: Make sure your pot will be at least double the height as the amount of liquid, the cream will bubble up
  • Lightly sauté the garlic just to cook it through, be careful not to burn it
  • Tip: This is to remove the burn and harshness of fresh garlic
  • Pour the cream and white wine into the saucepan
  • Let it come to a boil
  • Turn down the heat to medium low and leave the cream and wine to thicken and reduce by 3/4, stirring occasionally. This will take between 15 - 20 minutes
  • Season to taste with salt
  • Tip: I found I only needed a very small pinch of salt flakes as the wine's tang already added enough of a "salty" taste

 

  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil
  • When the sauce has almost reduced by 3/4, gently drop the ravioli into the boiling water
  • Cook the ravioli for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes
  • Tip: If you've left the sauce to reduce too much, simply stir in about 1-2 Tbsp of the pasta water to thin it out and leave the sauce on very low heat to keep warm while the pasta cooks
  • Once ravioli is cooked, use a slotted spoon to scoop 2 - 3 ravioli out of the water at a time, tapping on the edge of the pot to drain as much of the water as possible, and gently drop the cooked ravioli straight into the cream sauce.
  • Gently stir the pasta in the sauce, making sure each ravioli is coated with the sauce
  • To serve, divide the ravioli equally into warmed dishes, some with the filling bumps up, and some down
  • Spoon over any sauce left in the saucepan
  • Garnish with freshly grated parmesan or a drizzle of good quality thick and sweet balsamic vinegar
  • Enjoy!

 

 

  

Other Tips:

"00" flour is high in gluten and ground finer than plain flour. If you can't find "00" flour, use bread making flour instead (also called "Strong" flour)

You can choose to use all flour, all semolina or any mixed ratio of the 2. The semolina gives the pasta a firmer cooked texture, more of a "bite". This is down to personal preference.

You can freeze any leftover uncooked ravioli and boil it from frozen when needed. Simply arrange the uncooked ravioli on a floured tray and put the tray in the freezer for about an hour or until the ravioli is firm. Then remove the tray from the freezer and place the ravioli in airtight bags or containers.

You will have leftover pasta dough from the recipe above. If you don't want red/pink pasta dough, then simply leave out the pureéd beetroot and half the flours and olive oil, but still using 1 egg. This will give you half the amount of pasta dough.

However, seeing as you're making pasta dough, make the full amount and make other pasta with the excess dough. I used my KitchenAid pasta extruder to make spaghetti and maccheroni. You could also use your pasta machine to make linguine etc. 

Cooking is far more organic than baking, so the amount of seasoning is up to your own tastes. Use my recipe as a guideline, but taste everything along the way to see if you're happy with the flavour.


 

A more traditional shape of ravioli, but still as tasty