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Still reeling off the high of gnocchi, I thought I’d give handmade pasta a second go.  The first time was rather disastrous, resulting in some pretty chewy ravioli so I entered the kitchen with some sense of trepidation but also fingers crossed that things would work out this time.

Immediately, I realized I wasn’t quite ready for the act of making pasta. First off, I didn’t even have the right kind of flour (and just barely enough of the wrong kind!). So I used a mixture of all purpose and superlite flour, which is a really soft flour we use in Chinese cooking for steamed buns and such. Second, I realized while the dough was resting that I didn’t quite have the right ingredients to stuff the ravioli with (sometimes, I am so ill prepared in the kitchen I amaze myself). So I subbed ricotta with marscapone and grated a block of cheddar to make up for not having enough parmesan.

Then, with no pasta machine in sight, I set out to roll the dough as thin as I could possibly get it with a rolling pin. When I could roll no longer, I filled the ravioli in two ways: first, I cut out circles and filled them with the stuffing before topping them with another circle, pressed the sides together and used a pasta cutter to make nice edges; second, with a long sheet, I placed little scoops of the filling about 3 inches apart, placed a second long sheet on top, pressed down around the stuffing and then cut out the ravioli with a pasta cutter. Both ways worked, but somehow, I found I could get littler and thinner ravioli the first way, even though it was slightly more labour intensive.

The result? They were actually pretty yummy – just a little thick around the edges but still pretty darn good. I tossed them in browned butter and thyme, garnished with parmesan and red chilli flakes. Now if I can get my hands on a pasta machine….

Here’s the recipe!

Fresh Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli
{Recipe by Cook Your Dream} 
Serves 2-3

100g pasta flour
100g semolina flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp cold water

1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
260g fresh spinach
250g ricotta
zest 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmesan
salt and freshly ground pepper

3tbsp butter
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
freshly grated pepper

grated parmesan, to serve

Sift together the pasta flour and semolina flour, add pinch of salt. Pile the flour mixture on a flat surface. Make a well in the middle, add the eggs and olive oil and start mixing with a fork to incorporate the eggs and flour mixture. When the dough begins to come together, start kneading the dough with both hands, pouring in a little bit of water until soft and smooth. It takes about 10 minutes. The dough should be elastic and not sticky. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the filling. Heat oil in a pan, add the garlic and saute for a minute. Add the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes just until wilted. Transfer it to a colander and let cool slightly, then squeeze out any excess liquid. Roughly chop the spinach. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, lemon zest, nutmeg, cheese and spinach, add salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the dough in half and start rolling it with your pasta machine. Each time you run the dough through, fold it and run it through again on the same thickness setting. Roll it until it’s paper thin. Place the pasta sheet on a floured surface and spoon the spinach mixture on top, making sure there is at least a 3cm space around each spoonful. Lightly wet the dough around the filling. Place the second sheet of pasta over the filling, press the dough down gently with your fingers to seal the dough around the filling. Cut out the individual ravioli pieces with a pasta wheel and place on a floured surface. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets and filling.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add a tablespoon of oil, reduce the heat and gently cook the ravioli in batches for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the water, drain and keep warm.

For the thyme butter, melt the butter in a pan, add the thyme and fry for less than one minute. Remove from the heat and add some freshly grated pepper.

Serve the ravioli on a warmed plate, pour over some thyme butter and sprinkle with the parmesan.

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