Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli in Tomato Sauce. A classic pasta dish that we typically make for a Sunday lunch. Tender, beautiful, homemade noodles, stuffed with a creamy mixture of ricotta, spinach, and nutmeg. Served with a simple basil tomato sauce and topped with grated Parmigiano, these ravioli will transport you to Italy at your first bite.
Making homemade pasta dough on a Sunday morning to have it ready for our Sunday lunch is one of my most beloved and recurrent memories. Whether fettuccine, spaghetti, gnocchi, lasagna, or ravioli, it just wouldn't be Sunday without a traditional homemade pasta dish. I am keeping this tradition alive, and today I present you with a wonderful classic: Ravioli Ricotta e Spinaci, Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli in Tomato Sauce.
Song suggestion: A Sunday Kind Of Love - Etta James
Homemade Pasta Dough
Making homemade pasta dough is pretty easy and it's the same for many different pasta shapes. The rule is 1 egg to 100 grams of flour, and that makes enough pasta for 2 people. For 4, I used 2 large eggs and 200 grams of flour type 00. Very fine, with higher gluten content, 00 flour is the type of flour we normally use, also in combination with the coarser semolina flour (semola rimacinata in Italian). A pinch of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil are two options that my family never used. The olive oil makes the dough more elastic and also easier to work. So that's totally up to you. Sometimes I add it, sometimes I don't, especially when I am making dough with my mother who is a purist. While kneading, we usually add a few drops of water if the dough seems too dry.
Food processor or wood board?
I am still in Rome and using my parents' kitchen, where to make the dough we have always used a 'spianatoia' (wood board). You can use a food processor, a stand mixer, or a board like me. A wood board is preferable to a marble top because of its rougher texture which will create a coarser texture in the pasta which, in return, will translate to more sauce sticking to the noodles.
- On the wood board, pour the flour, make a hole in the center and add the eggs.
- Beat the eggs with a fork and start incorporating a little flour.
- Keep beating the eggs incorporating more of the inner edge of the flour 'wall' until the flour starts absorbing the eggs.
- Once the eggs are blended in the flour, and you have somewhat of a raggedy dough, start working it.
- Work the dough with your fingertips first to release some moisture. Add a few drops of water if necessary.
- Then, knead vigorously for a few minutes using your whole hand, folding and turning.
- As soon as the dough is smooth, shape it into a ball, cover it with a cloth or a bowl, or wrap it in plastic, and let it rest for 30 minutes. The gluten will relax and you will have a more elastic dough.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. In a bowl add the ricotta, Parmigiano, and the chopped boiled spinach. TIP: Squeeze the spinach very well before chopping it and adding it to the ricotta. Adjust with salt and grated nutmeg. Mix everything until creamy smooth, taste for seasoning, and set aside.
- After the resting time, divide the dough into four parts. Take a piece of dough, and leave the others covered so they do not dry out. Lightly flatten the piece of dough with your hands, pressing it on the floured work surface. Then, turning the handle of the pasta machine, start rolling it, going from the lowest number on the wheel (1) that is the widest roller thickness of the pasta machine, gradually going up one number, until you have a rather thin pasta sheet (5). Pass the sheet a couple of times through the rollers at each number. Since ravioli are made with two overlapping pasta sheets, it is better to have a thin dough.
- When the pasta sheet is at the desired thickness, cut it in half using a knife. On one half add a heaping teaspoon of filling, leaving a space of about 2 fingers in between.
- Cover with the other half sheet and with your fingers press the dough around the filling to remove as much air as possible.
TIP: Do not let the pasta sheet dry out. It is important to make the ravioli one sheet at a time, as soon as they are rolled out.
- Using a fluted wheel (or a ravioli cutter), cut in between the filling and along the top and bottom to create the ravioli. Reuse the scraps to make more pasta sheets.
TIP: Making ravioli that are more or less the same size is advisable because they will cook at the same time, but do not worry if they are not all exactly the same.
As soon as you have the finished ravioli, it is important to lay them on a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper, well-floured, so they won't stick at the bottom.
A wood surface dusted with flour to lay your ravioli works great. This, in particular, is my mom's very old "scifa" that has seen a lot of homemade pasta. Let the ravioli dry a little and, if you haven't made your sauce yet, it's time to make a simple basil tomato sauce.
Cooking the Ravioli
- After the sauce is done, it's time to put some water on boil. Grab a big pot, fill it with plenty of water, add coarse sea salt and leave it on medium/high heat until it starts to boil.
- Then, carefully, add ravioli to the boiling water. We manually add them two at a time, paying attention not to splash the hot water from the pot.
- While the ravioli are cooking, have a big bowl ready close by. Add some sauce at the bottom, then, when the ravioli are done, use a slotted spoon to drain the ravioli from the water right into the bowl. TIP: To know when the ravioli are done, wait till they rise to the surface, then let them cook a little longer (1-2 minutes), turning them gently so they cook evenly on all sides, for a total of 5-6 minutes. Since the part that takes longer to cook is the border, you could take a piece of the edge and taste it for doneness.
- Add more sauce on top, stir gently, and grate abundant Parmigiano on top.
At this point, your family or guests will be waiting with a fork in hand ready to devour your creation. Plate 5 or 6 ravioli delicately in a bowl, adding more sauce and Parmigiano if needed.
Italian Sunday Lunch Served.........
A sigh is heard as we sit down at our nicely placed table. You can see everyone excited to taste this wonderful meal. Wine is poured, and bread is cut on a wood board right at the table and this wonderful ravioli is served.
Time to taste it. I love to watch as people have that first bite. Their lips close, the head goes back a bit and they get this starry-eyed look. I think that is a pleasure as these ravioli reveal the delicate and lightness of the pasta along with that most luxurious filling of ricotta and spinach. The sauce completes this marriage with its acidic sweetness in accompaniment with the Parmigiano! The last bits of the ravioli are scooping the remnants of sauce and if you are daring, some bread for an amazing scarpetta experience! When compliments are being offered by Italian parents or even your nonna, you know you have done a great job!
The weekend is coming, why not make it Italian Sunday lunch and feature these Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli in Tomato Sauce. Sit back and watch what happens!
Buona Domenica e Buon Appetito!Print