Ravioli is a traditional Italian dish done by stuffing pasta pockets with different fillings. The shape of Ravioli can be obtained in two different ways. One way is to place the filling on one pasta sheet, overlapping the next, and then separating the ravioli by cutting the squares around the pasta pockets; or they can be done by cutting pasta sheets in rounds, placing the filling in the center and closing the ravioli overlapping the pasta to form a sort of half-moon shape. The filling vary from vegetables (spinach, mushrooms, squash) to different kind of meat, cheese, or even seafood. Ravioli are boiled and then dressed in many different ways, generally butter and herbs or light tomato sauces, but also ragu’ or cheese.
Historically Ravioli go back to medieval times and are mentioned in manuscripts as early as the thirteenth century. Today industrial made Ravioli can be easily found in any grocery store, but nothing compare to the home made one.
for the filling
1 lb (450 g) fresh spinach
1 lb (450 g) ricotta cheese, thoroughly drained
4 oz (115 g) parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
for the dough
3 cups (400 gr) flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
for the dressing
4 oz (100 g) unsalted butter
10 fresh sage leaves
4 oz (100 g) freshly grated parmigiano cheese
Boil the spinach in lightly salted water. Place the boiled spinach in a cheese cloth and form a small sack. Squeeze the sack to expel as much water as possible. Chop the spinach finely.
Place the spinach in a bowl. Combine the drained ricotta, egg, parmigiano cheese, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch of nutmeg. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and nutmeg if necessary.
Prepare the pasta dough using the recipe for fresh pasta. Make the dough very soft and moist. Use the minimum flour necessary, just enough to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands while working. Cut the dough in two parts. Place one of the pieces on the work surface, and flatten it with a rolling pin until it is very thin. Repeat the same steps with the other half of the dough, making a pasta sheet of the same size. Set it aside, covered with a moist towel if necessary to prevent the pasta from drying too much.
Place about 1 teaspoon of the filling on the dough, spaced 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
Cover with the second dough and press the pasta around the fillings so that the 2 layers touch each other. Press firmly to bond the 2 pasta sheets together.
Separate the ravioli by cutting with a pastry wheel.
In a skillet large enough to contain the ravioli, place the butter and sage leaves. Turn the heat on just long enough to melt the butter. Bring water to a boil in a stockpot. Gently drop the ravioli in the boiling water a few at a time.
Cook until the pasta is al dente (firm but not too soft or overcooked). Drain the ravioli, picking them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon.
Transfer the ravioli to the pan. Stir gently until they are evenly coated with the butter. Combine the grated cheese. Place in a warm serving dish and serve at once.
TIPS * Drain the filling ingredients very well to prevent the ravioli from breaking while boiling. * If you would like the stuffing to be aromatic, add more freshly grated nutmeg. * Sometimes the dough will dry too much while you are working, which prevents the pasta sheets from being “gluey” enough to stick to each other. If this happens, brush the surface of the bottom pasta sheet with egg whites. To prevent the pasta sheets from drying too much, cover them with plastic wrap.