Wild Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli with Basil and Brazil Nut Pesto
So I’m on with a little pasta experimentation again, and the possibilities really are endless. So many shapes, flavours, sauces, fillings. It’s difficult to know where to begin! I feel like, after a little exploratory testing, I’ve got the general gist of my pasta machine, so I decided to push the boat out and try something a little bit more difficult. Rather than just rolling out and cutting (it really is as simple as that), I thought I’d try my hand at some filled pasta. I’ve had a little basil plant flourishing in my kitchen window for about a week now, so I knew instinctively that I had to make some pesto (the recipe courtesy of the Hemsley sisters- cheers gals!!). However, I was not so certain of the filling. I’d quite like butternut squash… but what about sausage meat…or perhaps a simple cheese filling. Christ! I really do make it difficult for myself sometimes. But I had a little brain wave; recently I’d used a bag of dried wild mushrooms for a risotto, and they were so deliciously dark and earthy in flavour. Inevitably the rest of the recipe stemmed from that single thought. And I think they really do make this dish; even with the smooth, creamy ricotta you get earthy tones with each mouthful. Mmmmmmushrooms!
The last two times I’ve made pasta I just mixed the ingredients in a bowl. But after reading differing recipes and blog posts, I chose to try out the traditional technique. Rather than using a bowl you work directly onto your kitchen surface; you make a volcano-like shape with your flour and crack the eggs into the well. Then, using a fork, you gradually mix the flour into the egg, and when the mixture just begins to take a proper shape you incorporate the rest of the flour in whilst kneading. I loved this technique so much; the dough was so smooth and soft to handle when kneading, and plus it saves on the washing up!! I also read about a handy technique to help when kneading. A lot of the time I don’t really know when to stop, I just follow the recipe, and knead for the instructed time. But I read that if you prod the dough, and it bounces back, then it has been kneaded thoroughly. Like a belly button, it forms an innie, but then becomes and outie.
I’m not going to lie, I did have a few hiccups with the ravioli construction. The first couple looked great, but when I sealed them and cut through with my ravioli cutter I couldn’t get the little buggers off my kitchen surface. School boy error! So with the next few rounds I made sure I used plenty of flour to ensure a stick-free counter. An hour or so after this first hurdle, I came across another minor hiccup. Most of my ravioli were drying on a wire rack, the rest on some baking parchment. I started to notice that some of the ravioli were sticking to the parchment. I think the moisture from the filling prevented the pasta from drying out properly; so I threw over some more flour and turned them over in the hope that they would dry. The majority were absolutely perfect, but I lost two in the process of boiling. Cause of death: explosion. Absolute nightmare. To be honest I think this came down to the fact that I may have over filled the pan, and its likely I might have been a little aggressive (excited?!) with my spoon upon retrieval. I did put all 32 in in one go. Too eager? Perhaps. We learn from our mistakes, don’t we?
- 400g ’00’ flour
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper
makes 32 ravioli with a little pasta left over
- 25g bag of dried wild mushrooms
- 2 field mushrooms
- 8 small closed cup mushrooms
- 4 medium sized chestnut mushrooms
- 3 garlic cloves
- 25g butter
- 250g ricotta
- salt and pepper
courtesy of the Hemsley sisters
- 3 large handfuls of fresh basil
- 6 to 10 brazil nuts (depending on preference of thickness)
- 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 1/5 cups of extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 tbsp of lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- Begin by making the pasta dough. On a clean work surface form a volcano-like shape with your flour, and crack the eggs into the well. Using a fork mix the eggs, adding a little of the flour from the side as you mix. But be careful not to break the walls of the flour, as the eggs will run away (not literally…they don’t have legs!). As the dough starts to form begin to use your hands to incorporate the flour. Continue to use the surface whilst kneading the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes. Or until the dough’s innie becomes an outie. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for about an hour.
- While the dough rests prepare the filling. Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water, and whilst they rest chop the fresh mushrooms into small pieces. In a pan, add the butter, garlic and mushrooms. Whilst they sweat off, squeeze out the liquid from the soaked mushrooms and chop into small pieces. Add them to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the ricotta and season well with salt and pepper.
- While your filling cools you can prepare the pasta. Using a pasta machine, feed the dough through the rollers, gradually reducing the settings, until you reach your desired thickness. Ensure that your work surface is well floured before you begin to assemble your ravioli. Place a heaped teaspoon of mushroom mixture on the dough, ensuring there is enough room between each pile so that the ravioli can be sealed. Carefully place over another sheet of pasta, press down around the filling to ensure that it is sealed. If the pasta is not sealed properly the filling will come out when boiling. Using the ravioli cutter, press down around each bound of filling and pull any excess pasta away from the edges. Leave your ravioli to dry out for half an hour or so.
- While your pasta is drying, make the pesto. Blitz together all the ingredients in a food processor, or by using a hand blender.
- To cook the pasta simply drop the ravioli in boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes. The time here depends on how thick your pasta is. When ready transfer the pasta from the pan by using a holed spoon, so that any excess water can drain away. Drizzle over the fresh pesto and scatter with cheese. I had to clean the bowl out of all pesto remains, so I accompanied the pasta with some garlic bread.