There’s nothing like a spot of spanking on a Friday night. And by spanking, I of course mean spanking of dough. Pasta dough to be precise.
I had decided, thanks to an unexpected abundance of eggs delivered by our landlord/farmer (laid a mere 100m away from our front door) and a severe shortage of meat and veg, to make fresh pasta. Making it is simple enough – after all, it literally is just eggs and flour – but the kneading to make it smooth and silky is hard, physical labour. And, with The Other Half cruelly shunning his manly responsibilities, I was left with the job.
Now, I could have cheated and used the beautiful piece of machinery that is my Kitchen Aid to bind and knead the dough but I had plans for that later. And, after a hard week at the coalface of Fabulous Food I thought a small release of pent-up aggression was just what I needed. And so, I spanked. For a good 10 minutes I tried traditional kneading, the stretching and folding of dough, and then I spanked. I smacked the dough onto the work top, beating it into submission until it was perfectly smooth. How satisfying.
And so, should you need a similar release, here’s the recipe for my ravioli, complete with a delicious ricotta and herb filling with a secret kick. Adjust the seasonings and spice to taste, but I rather like it as it is.
Herb and ricotta ravioli
500g ’00’ flour (I used Tesco Ingredients Pasta Flour because it was on special offer – it comes in 500g packs)
6 eggs (as my eggs were straight from the farm they ranged in sizes but I would advise using medium, free-range eggs)
50g polenta (optional)
Hemp, rapeseed or olive oil, to serve
75g Grana Padano, finely grated, plus extra to serve
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
Generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped (I used curly parsley as that is what I have growing in my garden)
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
- To make the pasta put the majority of the flour into a bowl (reserving a handful for dusting the worksurface, etc) and make a well. Crack in the eggs and whisk with a fork. Using your hands slowly work the flour into the eggs until combined.
- Dust the worksurface with the remaining flour and turn the mixture out onto it. Knead the dough. You can do this by pushing the dough forwards with the heal of your hand. This stretches the glutens in the flour and will make for a beautifully textured pasta. This will take time and I can thoroughly recommend my spanking technique to hurry things along. You want the dough smooth and silky, and not grainy. When it’s ready (this should take around 20 mins) wrap completely in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 mins or longer.
- Meanwhile, make your filling. Place all of the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The chilli and pepper should provide a welcome kick, the herbs and lemon will give a fresh, grassy taste, while the two cheeses should be deliciously mellow. Place in the fridge until ready.
- Cut the dough in half, wrapping the unused half in clingfilm and place in the freezer for another occasion. Roll the other half out and feed through a pasta machine. I took my dough to notch 5 for a medium to thin pasta. If you don’t have pasta machine you have some serious rolling out to do. It wants to be so thin it is almost transparent.
- Flour the worksurface and lay the pasta out. Using your hand as a measure, cut down the pasta at a hand’s width and horizontally half way along that (i.e. make squares) – you should have about 80 in total.
- Add a generous tsp of the filling to the middle of 40 of the squares. Have a little bowl of water on standby, wet your finger and then draw a circle around the filling. Place the remaining pasta squares on top and seal down, making sure there is no air inside the ravioli. I used a cutter to make them into neat little sombreros but they will work just as well as squares, as long as they are properly sealed. Dust with a combination of flour and the polenta, if you are using, to stop them from sticking.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, season with a pinch of salt, and cook the pasta in batches of 10 (unless you have a huge pan) for around 6 mins.
- Drain gently, reserving 2 or 3 tbsps of the cooking water, drizzle with hemp oil (I used this because I happened to have some, but an extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil would work just as well) and grate over some Grana Padano to taste. Toss gently to combine and serve. Bloody yum.