This Easter weekend, if you’ve had your fill of lamb and are looking for another crowd pleaser, then these earthy artichoke ravioli may just do the trick.
Growing up in Italy, I regularly visited my pseudo-Nonna Graziella, or Gra as I call her.
You’d often find her at the sewing machine making her daughter a dress from some old curtains; or deconstructing one of my Mum’s discarded jumpers (probably worn once), recycling its wool, and turning it into a scarf for herself.
However, I’d always hope to arrive at the right time to witness Gra at her best – preparing a hearty meal with anything Rino, her husband, had harvested from their two acre vegetable garden that day.
Gra’s cooking epitomises the beauty of Italian food – humble and uncomplicated, healthy and full of fresh flavours. The kind of food you could just carry on eating, eating, and eating. And I did… From old photos I can only assume I was either an active toddler, or that Mum scrapped the rotund pictures, keeping only the ones where I was on a strict ‘no more than one adult sized portion of lasagne’ diet.
When she cooked she’d often get me to help, from rolling a fork over Gnocchi to give them their signature look, to dunking sponge fingers in coffee for Tiramisu.
Wind the clock forward 25 years, and she still gets phone calls from me asking her about the recipes that used to keep me quiet whilst making it, and even quieter whilst eating.
Fresh pasta, and specifically ravioli, is one of those recipes.
Serves 2 as a main; 4 or 5 as a starter.
Prep time 30 mins; Cook time 30 mins.
200g ’00’ Flour
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch fine salt
5 artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
50ml white wine
125g ricotta cheese
50g grated parmesan
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper to season
50g walnut halves, chopped
25g salted butter
125g ricotta cheese
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
For the pasta:
If you have a mixer with a dough hook, combine everything together and mix on a slow setting for 10 minutes.
If you want do it ‘a mano’, then tip your flour onto a work surface making a well in the centre. This’ll hold the wet ingredients. Take a fork and slowly beat these until you have a smooth mix. Using the fork slowly incorporate the flour from the edges of the well until you’ve used it all up and everything is combined. Kneed for about 10 minutes.
Whichever method you use, you want to end up with a smooth and shiny lump of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
For the filling:
Whilst the dough is resting, gently fry the onion and garlic until soft, add the artichokes and lightly brown for 10 minutes over a low heat. Add the wine, stir well and cook off over a medium heat.
Tip everything into a food processor and give it a couple of quick pulses – you want to retain small chunks of artichoke. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the rest of the filling ingredients, incorporating into an even mix. Cover and set to one side.
To make the ravioli:
Grab the pasta out the fridge, and cut into four equal parts. Work these through your pasta machine, starting on the widest setting, getting narrower with each pass, until you reach the narrowest. For these ravioli, you definitely want thin pasta sheets. The pasta sheets should fill the entire width of the machine as we’ll be folding them in half lengthways.
To make the ravioli shapes get your hands on a round pastry cutter. Choose any size you want depending on how gigantic you want your ravioli, and how much you want to fill them. I’ve gone for fairly standard sized.
On a floured surface, lay your pasta sheets down and place dollops of the filling about 1cm away from the long edge. Space the dollops apart at least the width of the pastry cutter. Lightly wet a pastry brush, and paint a small area around each dollop. Fold the pasta sheet over length ways so as to join up the long edges, covering all the fillings. Using your fingers, gently press down around the fillings to snuggly enclose. Try not to trap air in the pockets as they are more likely to burst when cooking. Now take your cutter and make half moon ravioli shapes around each dollop.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add a couple of pinches of salt.
For the sauce:
In a large frying pan add the walnuts and toast gently for a couple of minutes. Add the thyme and butter, and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Mix in the ricotta and parmesan and season.
Lower the ravioli into the boiling water, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Just before they finish cooking, take a ladle of the pasta water and pour into the walnut mix, stirring over a medium heat until it has a sauce like consistency.
Drain the ravioli and tip into the frying pan with the walnut sauce. Gently fold the ravioli around the pan until they are all well coated. Plate up and lay on some fresh thyme leaves.
E adesso si mangia! Buon appetito….
Let me know what you think