One of the striking features of modernity is the gulf between people and the origin of their food. It is saddening when people think apples grow in polystyrene six-packs, or that fish are born in oblong cans. It must be the job of the diligent food writer to address this ignorance.
The filled pasta shapes known as Ravioli (singular 'raviolo') are not only to be found in plastic cartons in the supermarket, or in tins with tomato sauce. It is possible to make your own from scratch. However, the traditional method of making pasta dough by whisking eggs into a mound of flour can be hard work. This recipe uses a few shortcuts and will show you how to make a tasty and eminently serviceable ravioli stand-in for about six people, in the comfort of your own cosy kitchen.
Pour all the ingredients into a blender, and give them a spin for 2-3 minutes. The result should look like a jug full of breadcrumbs.
When that's ready, you'll need to give them a knead for a few minutes. Stretch, fold, refold, repeat, until they start to join together and form a lovely, stretchy dough.
Cover this with a damp tea towel, and leave it to rest for about 15 minutes. This Researcher suggests that the time is best spent with a glass of wine and the 1812 Overture, as there is a pleasing affinity between Tchaikovsky and pasta.
Now you'll need to roll out the dough. Do this in a few smaller lumps - it's much easier than trying to roll the whole thing out at once!
You'll really want the dough to be as thin as you can get it, without it falling apart. It stops the end product from being too stodgy.
For the filling, you can let your imagination go wild. The flavour can vary just as much as that in any two fine wines. Your fillings can run the whole spectrum to reflect this. Standard fillings include minced beef or ricotta cheese.
Why not try:
There is one point worth stressing. The filling in ravioli should form a lovely, velvety paste which you can press luxuriously against the roof of your mouth. So harder ingredients, like walnuts, should be well-ground first. Gritty is not what we want here!
There are various ways to assemble the ravioli.
The easiest is to spoon out the filling on to the rolled-out dough in evenly-spaced amounts (a teaspoonful is usually about right), then use a cookie cutter to cut out circles of pasta around the filling. Fold the circles in half and pinch the edges together firmly1.
If you're feeling more adventurous, lay another thin sheet of dough over the top of the dough and filling, then either use the cookie cutter to cut out circles, or use a knife to cut the two layers of pasta into squares. Again, press the edges of each shape together firmly.
The best part of this is that, once your ravioli are ready, they only take 2-3 minutes in boiling water to make a hearty dinner.
To finish the dish, add a sauce. Sometimes with sauce, less is more. Why not try just a drizzle of olive oil, or maybe a sprinkle of grated cheese, and let your pasta speak for itself? It already has all that flavour on the inside!