Ravioli with ricotta and sage

It’s been an ambition of mine to make ravioli for a while. I did buy a device that was like a tray with some indentations where you put over one sheet of pasta, put in the filling then put over another sheet of pasta and go over it with a rolling pin. This looked like a dream for someone who loves efficiency like me but went completely wrong so this time I used a glass to cut out the shapes on a friend’s recommendation. Sage is such a christmassy herb for me. In the UK we generally put it into ‘stuffing’ that we have with our christmas turkey (or on it’s own if you don’t eat meat like me). I think I have Christmas on the brain already because I just bought a Christmas crochet magazine and I’ve started making some things from it so that they’ll be ready for Christmas, one of those being ‘Ferdinand the fir tree’. Anyway, I think this would make a nice Christmas Eve meal.

Serves 4 as a main, more as a fancy starter

Ingredients

  • 300g ’00’ flour
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 200g spinach
  • 1 lemon
  • nutmeg
  • 250g ricotta
  • 50g butter
  • handful safe leaves
  • 30g parmesan

Method

1.) First, to make the pasta, add the flour to a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and crack in the two eggs. Add the two egg yolks.

2.) Mix from the inside out with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball. Sometimes I need to add a little water but if you need to only add a couple of drops at a time.

3.) Move the ball onto a worktop and knead for 10 – 15 minutes until it’s smooth. Then wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

4.) Whilst the pasta is resting, make the filling. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic for a couple of minutes. Then add the spinach and leave for a couple of minutes to wilt. Zest 1/2 a lemon and grate over some nutmeg into the pan. Tip all this into a bowl and leave to cool.

5.) Once the pasta has rested, prepare into sheets. I divide the pasta into four, roll so it’s thin enough to go through the widest setting on a pasta machine and put through twice, lower the setting by 1 put through twice and keep going with each of the quarters until you get to a middle setting.

6.) Lay out one of the sheets onto a worktop.

7.) Add the ricotta into the bowl with the spinach and lemon and stir everything to combine.

8.) Then spoon on heaped teaspoons of the ricotta 5cm apart. Brush around the ricotta with a little water then lay over another sheet of pasta.

9.) Push out any airholes to the side.

10.) Find a glass that has a rim large enough to go around the filling with about 1.5 cm around the side.

11.) Cut out the pasta with the glass and place the ravioli on a plate.

12.) Boil some water and add to a large saucepan. Turn up the heat and cook the ravioli for 2 – 3 minutes, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. You will probably need to do this in batches.

13.) Grate the parmesan. Melt the butter in a frying pan and tear in the sage leaves. Fry until they start to brown then add the ravioli. Sprinkle over the parmesan and squeeze in a little lemon juice. Fry for a couple of minutes or until the pasta is starting to brown a little. Serve and enjoy.

Tagliatelle in tartare sauce

I was having Italian lessons up until a few weeks ago but with my company conference and having COVID I missed booking the most current course. It’s probably for the best as there was an older woman in the class who was a few steps behind everyone else and I wasn’t getting anything done in the breakout rooms when we were paired up. Also there was an Eastern European guy who kept pronouncing my name Gemma with a hard ‘g’ which was pretty annoying, especially given that my name is Italian. I have my Italian book for dummies and am doing a bit of duolingo to try and keep up until the next course in September. I found this pasta recipe in ‘Gino’s Pasta’ and it was not like anything I’d seen before so I was interested to try with the tartar. Maybe Gino created it after going to Norie’s fish and chip shop in Oban. We got some scampi and it did come with tartar sauce.

Anyway I did like the recipe and it’s very quick, particularly if you’re lazy like me and use pre-made fresh pasta.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 30g pickled onions
  • 30g pickled gherkins (or cornichons)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 15g butter
  • 75ml double cream
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 200g fresh tagliatelle
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 30g parmesan

Method

1.) Get the pasta ready to cook in a large saucepan. Boil some water.

2.) Grate the parmesan and dice the parsley finely and set aside. Chop up the onions and gherkins. Melt some butter in a large frying pan and add them along with the capers.

3.) Fry for 2 minutes then pour in the cream and spoon in the mustard and mix. Cook for 3 minutes and whilst this is cooking put the pasta onto boil.

4.) Add the yolk and sprinkle in the parsley and parmesan and stir. Cook for a further 15 seconds. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce.

Lentil Bolognese

For me, a classic Italian pasta with Ragu is a big comfort meal. Lentils provide all of the protein in the meal you lack from the minced beef/pork and have just a little bit of chew to mix up the texture. This recipe was from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’. I take Italian lessons each week and I’ve learnt that when we ask for a panini it doesn’t make sense as panini is the plural form of sandwich – if you have Italian servers you want to impress, ask for a panino. Learning Italian, it was very difficult going on holiday recently to Spain. The basic phrases you need in both languages are very similar, so I was constantly muddling up the two! Bilbao was beautiful though and I fully recommend a trip and a taste of all their delicious pinxtos (bar snacks).

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tin lentils (400g)
  • 10g fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 50ml red wine
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp marmite
  • 100ml water
  • 320g pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • 20g hard cheese
  • 10g parsley

Method

1.) Peel and finely dice the garlic and the onions. Strip the leaves from the thyme. Bash the walnuts in a pestle and mortar.

2.) Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook on a low heat until soft.

3.) Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

4.) Add the tomato puree, tin of tomatoes, walnuts, lentils, red wine, chilli, oregano, thyme, marmite and water. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes to thicken.

5.) Whilst this is cooking, grate the cheese, Chop up the parsley and cook the pasta. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta with some sauce, sprinkle over the cheese and parsley.

Roasted Tomato Pasta

I guess I must have been a bit overexcited about my upcoming holiday in Rome to choose to make this. Roasting the tomatoes really brings out their flavour – even if the tomatoes aren’t the best. I paired it up with some anchovies and balsamic vinegar to make it taste even better.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • 15g basil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 300g pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic

Method

1.) Preheat the grill. Line a baking tray with paper and place on the tomatoes less the stalks.

2.) Roast for about 15 minutes, until starting to char all over.

3.) Boil the pasta in a pan of water until cooked.

4.) In the meantime, peel the garlic cloves and dice.

5.) Heat a frying pan and add the tin of anchovies with the oil. Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes and heat in the pan, Use a spatula to break up the tomatoes a bit into a sauce. Cook down for a few minutes until the tomatoes are completely broken down.

6.) In the meantime, chop up the basil, throw the stalks in with the tomatoes.

7.) Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the balsamic vinegar, stir so the sauce coats all the pasta. Sprinkle over the basil and serve.

Lemon & Caper Cauliflower Orzo

My husband was asking for something with roasted cauliflower and I came across this charred cauliflower and orzo dish on BBC Good Food. I’m not sure how authentically Italian it is. I was just in Rome and I saw all the classics – Spaghetti alle Vongole, Lasagne, Carbonara, Rome’s version of Arancini (suppli) and more focaccia and mozzarella than you can shake a stick at but nothing with cauliflower and orzo. Nonetheless it’s still molto buono as they say in Italy. Rome is a beautiful, richly historic city and I’m now watching Suburra on Netflix which is an engrossing Italian crime drama set in Rome allowing me to relive all the sites.

Serves 3 (I doubled the recipe which Served 1 with leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g orzo
  • 4 tsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 100g rocket

Method

1.) Heat up the grill

2.) Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Chop up the cauliflower and place over the tray.

3.) Grill for 10 – 15 minutes until charred.

4.) Cook the orzo in a pan of boiling water until soft.

5.) Make up the stock and peel and dice the garlic. Zest the lemon.

6.) Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and capers and fry for a minute.

7.) Drain the orzo and add to the pan, add the cauliflower, the lemon zest, add the lemon juice to the pan and the vegetable stock.

8.) Cook for a couple of minutes then serve up with the rocket sprinkled over.

Festive Pasta

Here’s my last pre-Christmas meal before I get into the real unhealthy Christmas fare. I saw a recipe for sprout, hazelnut and leek pasta on BBC Good Food and I thought why not add some Linda McCartney imitation pulled chicken and it would practically be Christmas dinner on a plate with far less effort. I really love sprouts and can’t see why anyone wouldn’t unless they’ve been subjected to overcooked soggy ones.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • oil
  • 2 leeks
  • 200g sprouts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50ml vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 350g pasta
  • 1 tbsp parmesan
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 pack Linda McCartney chicken

Method

1.) Wash and slice the leeks. Chop the ends off the sprouts, discard the outer leaves and quarter them.

2.) Cook in a frying pan with the oil for 10 – 15 minutes until softened.

3.) Peel and finely chop the garlic, zest the lemon and grate the parmesan and make up the stock.

4.) Put the pasta in a pan and cover with boiling water, cook until soft.

5.) Add the garlic to the frying pan and cook for another minute.

6.) Add the chicken and heat up until it’s defrosted.

7.) Stir in the stock and crème fraiche.

8.) Drain the pasta and add to the pan. Then stir through the parmesan, lemon zest and hazelnuts until everything is hot and the parmesan is melted.

9.) Season and serve.