This is one of the most popular fillings for ravioli in Italy.
It’s a very simple filling, quite delicate, but every time it reveals to be perfect as it is in all its simplicity.
I went to the vegetable store and when I saw the fresh spinach I thought immediately to this recipe 🙂
Since I’m here in Hungary I thought to use the local substitute for ricotta, which is the so called “Orda” (unlikely of what many people here think, indeed I often heard that the Hungarian product which is more similar to the Italian ricotta is the “túró” but that’s wrong, túró is a quark cheese while ricotta is instead completely different and made from whey, as the orda), but this time I didn’t find it, unfortunately it seems to be no more so popular between the nowadays Hungarians and it’s not always easy to find, also because it’s a very delicate product and it has a very short shelf life (as fresh ricotta too).
So this time I had to buy an industrial Italian ricotta with a longer shelf life, but it was also good 🙂
There is some hand work to do, but homemade filled pasta it’s always very rewarding 🙂
In this case I opted for the most typical sauce: butter and sage, it’s perfect to enhance the delicate filling. But also a good tomato sauce can be a good choice.
INGREDIENTS (4 people):
- 300 g flour
- 3 eggs
- 250 g ricotta (from cow’s milk whey)
- 500 g fresh spinach (cleaned)
- 50 g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- freshly ground nutmeg
- freshly ground black pepper
- First we have to prepare the dough: take a bowl, add the flour (sifted) and then the eggs in the middle, and start to work it. When the whole starts to get a shape pour it on the table and work it until you obtain a smooth and homogeneous dough. Then make a ball and put it to rest covered with a plastic wrap at room temperature, for about 45/60 minutes.
- During this time we can clean the spinach. Remove the harder stems, wash well all the leaves and then take a large pan where we will cook them for few minutes. Add just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and then all the spinach (you don’t need to drain them well, those little water will be good to cook them now). Cook at medium heat, covered, for few minutes until they are soft. When they are soft take them out and squeeze them well, as much as possible. Then cut the spinach into very small pieces.
- Now take a bowl, add the ricotta and the freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, then the nutmeg (not too much), the ground black pepper and the salt, and mix them together. (Detail: I opened the ricotta the evening before and I let it in the fridge to get more dry, then I removed all its liquids, it’s better to have it as less moist as possible).
- Add the spinach to the ricotta and mix well again (if you want to have it more smooth and creamy you can use a robot). The filling is ready.
- Now take the dough and cut it in 3-4 pieces and while you work one piece keep the others covered otherwise they get dry. Flatten the dough at about 2 mm thick (I used the manual pasta machine, at the second thinnest option), then place the filling at about 3 cm from each other, as you see below.
- Put some very little water on the borders and then place the other pasta on the top. Take care to place it perfectly, and take care to push out all the air, otherwise the ravioli could break while boiling.
- Now cut the ravioli: you can use a tool as you see in photo or simply a zigzag pastry wheel. Place them on trays with some flour on the bottom, and keep them covered with clean towels until you cook them. They don’t have to touch each other.
- Boil the ravioli in abundant salted water. The time could vary depending on which flour you used, how thick is the pasta, etc. so when they are floating try one. In this case I used a “Tipo 1” (according to the italian flour classification) stone milled flour made from Khorasan wheat (Triticum turanicum turgidum exactly), and it took about 5-6 minutes to be ready. It could slightly change from flour to flour, in some cases also just 3-4 minutes could be enough. Try one when they come up floating on the surface.
- When they are ready drain them and use the sauce you prefer 🙂 as I wrote before I chose a butter and sage sauce, but also a tomato sauce could be good 🙂
- Serve it with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
PS: I think that this filling is a good balance and it make the dish not too heavy, but if you would like to feel more the ricotta you can use 50% ricotta and 50% spinach. And for a more intense taste you can choose a sheep ricotta, or Pecorino rather than Parmigiano Reggiano.
And if you prepare more than what you need you can store them in the freezer: place the tray in the freezer, and after 1-2 hours (when they are already harder) you can put them in some freezer bags. When you want to eat them boil them still frozen, it will take just some more minutes than the fresh ones.
Products used in this case:
Flour: Farina biologica rimacinata di grano antico etrusco tipo 1, from “Azienda Agricola Floriddia”