When I first bought my pasta machine I was all ‘oh yeah I’ll be making my own pasta every week!’. Nope. It was one of the first things I moved to Ireland and yet I haven’t used it in the last 2,5 years. So when I decided to make my own pasta again, I didn’t just go for the easier ones, nope I went straight for coloured and filled ravioli! First time I made it, it didn’t go too well, it took me forever to get them made, they kept on tearing apart and I couldn’t quite figure out how long they had to boil for and the colour disappeared while I was boiling it, turning it into really odd looking flesh-coloured ravioli. Absolute disaster! So I threw it all in the bin and tried it again the next weekend and now I feel like I finally perfected it. Keep in mind that the ravioli will look red but won’t taste like beetroot too much, it’ll only be a small hint of beetroot.
There are quite a few tips and tricks I can give you from my own trial and error experience, so first of all to keep the colour as red as possible, you can leave the dough overnight in the fridge or even keep it in the freezer for a longer time. The longer the dough has rested, the longer it will hold it’s colour when you boil it.
Next up was the thickness of the dough and the filling. This one really depends on your pasta machine, but you don’t want to have ravioli’s that have a thick layer of pasta, it’ll not taste nice at all. You really want to go for something paper thin, about 1-2 mm. In my pasta machine (Mercato) this was number 6 on the thickness knob.
However, if you make it too thin, it won’t hold the filling and it might burst. So all I can say here is try one, boil it and if it doesn’t rip you’ve found your perfect thickness. Next up is the filling. It may sound a bit weird to add pear to it, but it really is so tasty and it’ll only give off a hint of pear, it’s not an overpowering flavour. The only problem here will be if you get a very ripe pear, which will be really liquid and will make your filling very runny. It’s not a problem for the taste, but it’ll be harder to fold your ravioli, unless you have a ravioli mould to place it in.
The last issue I had to tackle was boiling time. I checked a dozen of other recipes for fresh ravioli, one said 10-15 minutes, the other 10 seconds. I ended up trying everything (well apart from the 10 minutes cause I knew fresh pasta takes a lot less than dried one). I found that around 2 minutes was the perfect time, but all this depends on the thickness of your pasta. So again, I would make just one, boil one for 1-2 minutes and then eat it to see if it’s the perfect texture or not.
Serves: 4 people
- 2 large egg
- 400g durum/pasta flour
- 200g cooked beetroot
- 150g spinach
- 300g goat cheese
- 1 pear, slightly underripe
- 100g rocket leaves
- 300g roasted and salted pistachios, remove shells
- Few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Needed: pasta machine
Suggested: a single ravioli mould/dumpling maker, like this one on Amazon for example
Let’s start with the beetroots. Add them to a blender, along with their juice and blend until you get a smooth liquid, then add the eggs and mix again. Now place your flour with a pinch of salt onto a lightly dusted dry work space (can be a big chopping board, counter, ..) and make a well in the middle. Add the beetroot liquid in the middle. Use a fork to gradually add in the flour into the beetroot, and keep stirring to mix the liquid with the flour. You can of course also use a stand mixer to mix it all together. Keep going until all the flour has been added, then use your hands to knead the dough until you get a silky smooth elastic dough. The Italian Chiappa sisters describe it as similar to play-doh, which I think is the best way to put it. The dough might be very sticky because of the moisture of the beetroot, so if the dough keeps sticking to your hands, add a bit more flour.
Wrap in cling film and set aside for at least 1 hour in the fridge, more if you want them to keep their vibrant colour. If you want to keep it overnight or for more than a day you can place it in the freezer.
Meanwhile we’re going to make our filling. Simply mix the spinach and pear and add it to the goat cheese, mix with a fork and set aside in the fridge.
Dust a workspace with flour and divide your dough into balls. Run them through your pasta machine, starting at the thickest option, working your way down to about 1-2 mm thickness. If your dough feels stick, dust it with a bit of flour to prevent it from sticking to your machine. There are a few ways of making ravioli now, you can make them square or round and you can use a mould or not use it. Because my filling was runny and not solid, I used a mould to prevent the filling from running everywhere. I’ll go over some options for you to make the ravioli:
Use a 7cm cake ring to cut out circles from the pasta sheet, set them aside and then get a single ravioli mould, dust it with some flour every few ravioli’s. Place one pasta circle into the mould, then add a teaspoon of the filling and make the edges around it wet using plain water or egg wash. I wanted to have beautiful round ravioli so I added a second circle on top and pressed down the edges of the sheets together with my hands, then took it out and pressed down from the center, working my way to the edges to get as much air out as possible. The less air we have the less chance that it might burst in the water or cook unevenly. If you don’t mind the shape, you can simply add one sheet, add the filling and then close the mould so you have a half moon ravioli.
Another technique you can use if your filling is quite thick is to cut two sheets of pasta dough, same thickness (1mm), then put the filling along the middle of one of your pasta sheets, 7 cm apart, then again use water or egg wash to mark the edges of your ravioli (square or round) and place the second layer on top. Again, place your fingers around the center and press down until you reach the edge of your ravioli. Then use a cutter to cut out your ravioli from the sheet. You can use a ribbed cutter to create beautiful edges or just use a round cake ring or just a knife to cut them into squares.
Last but not least you can use a long ravioli plate (dust it with flour) and place one pasta sheet on it, then fill the center with filling, place the top sheet on it and use a rolling pin to get the edges together. I found this one the hardest, as my pasta kept sticking to the plate and burst once I got the ravioli out.
Now boil water with a pinch of salt. Meanwhile heat up a bit of olive oil in a frying pan and add the pistachios. Cook them for 3-5 minutes while you water is getting ready. Now boil your ravioli for about 2 minutes. If they are quite big, go for 3 minutes. Again, try one first and see if the texture is perfect and adjust your timing before boiling them all.
Plating: Add a few ravioli to a plate, drizzle a pinch of balsamic vinegar on top, add a bit of fresh rocket leaves along with our warm pistachios and drizzle some leftover filling on top. Sprinkle parmesan on top and enjoy!