I’m not a fan of pasta

Unlike the rest of my family I am not a great fan of pasta. Maybe I’ve never eaten great pasta. Or maybe I can conjure a meal without the need for quick-pasta solution. Either way, it has never been a first port of call when deciding what to eat. Consequently, I am ashamed to say, I have never made pasta. Until  yesterday. I was pretty pleased with the result but I learned a lot whilst making it.

  • you don’t need a pasta machine
  • the food processor (again) was king of the kitchen
  • my standard 30 year old rolling pin was too short
  • it needs to be much thinner than you think
  • it is a good way to spend an hour in contemplative mode
  • I should have worked on the round table and not the work surface
  • unlike pastry it is AOK to stretch the dough as you roll it (although I didn’t at the time and later watched a really helpful clip on YouTube

300g 00 flour, 4 eggs, 1/2 tsp salt, 25ml olive oil.  Into the food processor you go and whizz round till it begins to bind.  Then turn onto a floured surface and knead away, as with bread dough, for 10 minutes.  Wrap in clingfilm then put to one side for at least half an hour. It is beautifully tactile, smooth and springy and golden yellow.

De-seed and peel half an onion squash (or any squash, but the more orange the better the colour). Chop into 2cm dice and throw into a hot frying pan (or roast them) with a little olive oil, a sprinkle of chilli flakes, a grind of black pepper and a couple of bay leaves.  Put the lid on and shake around every five minutes until soft. Then add some sea salt to taste.  When cool, mash the squash (having removed the bay leaves).  Combine with 200g ricotta cheese. Add finely chopped parsley and a grating of garlic. Check seasoning again.

Now for the pasta.  What I did was to roll it out as I would roll out pastry till it was very thin. The mistake I made was that even though I thought it was rolled very thin, when cooked, of course, it thickens up. So it needs to be even thinner.  The YouTube clip subsequently taught me the helpful trick of using a long thin rolling pin and to roll the pastry onto the pin, stretching the pastry as you go (watch to clip to see what I mean).  No doubt many of you know this already, but it was news to me!

As it was, I rolled out the pastry, dropped a teaspoon of the ricotta and squash filling in rows across the pasta then covered them with another layer of pasta, carefully pressing out the air before sealing the edges, then cutting into ravioli shapes with a sharp knife.  This technique worked perfectly.

Then I dropped half a dozen ravioli into boiling water and cooked for about 3 minutes, drained onto kitchen paper and served with butter sauce (melted butter with a tablespoon of the cooking liquor to emulsify it).

The result was very pleasing.  The filling was delicious, but the pasta a little too hefty for my liking. I think it will be improved by refining the rolling technique.  I shall try again.  By the way you might wonder where are the pictures – the answer is that I have sand in my camera and its not working at the moment. More of that another day.

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