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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

green 3 cheese ravioli + tomato sauce with garlic and basil ("alla carrettiera")

spinach ravioli with tomato garlic sauce

In Marcella Hazan's "essentials of classic italian cooking", she talks about the "only" 2 ways to EVER make fresh pasta dough: basic egg pasta (covered numerous times, albeit imperfectly, on this blog), and "green" pasta. Green pasta incorporates fresh spinach right into the dough - and why did I think I needed even more of a challenge? It's not like I've perfected pasta in the first place, so why make it more complicated? Because after steaming, draining and mincing the spinach, and adding it to egg and flour, there was nothing but a soggy sad mess on my counter. I was THIS close to wiping it all straight into the disposal. But then I added a little more flour and started kneading. And then more flour, more kneading. After a few minutes, I had this bright green ball of pasta dough, ready for rolling. Who knew? So if you try this recipe, expect it to get very ugly before you see anything that resembles a potential dinner. And if the idea of slaving over green pasta isn't appealing - just try this sauce. Wow.

Grocery list: (pasta) 10oz fresh spinach, 2 cups flour, 3 eggs; ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella cheeses plus parsley and 1 egg for the filling. For the sauce, 1 large bunch fresh basil, 2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes or 2 cups canned imported italian plum tomatoes, 5 cloves garlics, 5 T olive oil.

spinach pasta 2

After making a regular batch of egg pasta dough, you mash in the minced spinach, cooked and drained as dry as possible (any extra moisture is going to make it impossible to knead the dough). Keep adding flour and kneading it till the texture is familiar, and the dough isn't sticking to your skin.

spinach pasta

Then, you know the drill - break the pasta dough into 6 equal portions, and roll with the pasta machine. Each strip needs to be fed through the pasta machine 6-7 times before it's ready to start rolling through the thinner and thinner settings. When you've got the pasta strips rolled out, set each one on a dry dish towel to rest. Drying at least 10 minutes on the towels will help the dough not stick together when you make the ravioli.

3 cheese filling for ravioli

The filling for this is as simple as it gets - equal parts mozzarella (shredded), ricotta, and grated parmesan, with 1 beaten egg, and a handful of chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

filling spinach ravioli

To fill the ravioli, spoon bits of filling along one side of each strip of pasta. Then, you fold over the pasta strip and press the dough in between each dollop of filling (this will make one long strip of raviolis, which you just have to cut apart). Cut, then press the tines of a fork around the edges to make sure the edges won't burst at the seams when cooking.

poaching garlic in tomatoes

This sauce doesn't start the usual way (by sauteing onions and garlic in olive oil as a base, then adding the rest). You actually put the can of tomatoes and a few T of olive oil right into the pan, THEN turn on the heat. Break up the tomatoes while the pan heats up. Chop the garlic (at least 5 cloves if not more), then add to the tomatoes. You want the heat just so the liquid from the tomatoes is barely simmering, not popping and boiling like crazy. The idea is to poach the garlic - it retains the flavor but becomes more fragrant and rich as opposed to potent (hard to describe). The juice will slowly cook out, till you have a thick almost syrupy consistency. After about 15 minutes, add handfuls of torn basil leaves, keeping a few aside to top the pasta with later.

tomato garlic basil sauce

The sauce will be done after about 20-25 minutes. Cook the pasta (fresh ravioli takes about 3 minutes) in boiling salted water, drain and mix with the sauce. This sauce is great because it really coats the pasta, much different than fresh tomato sauce. Top with grated parmesan and a little more fresh torn basil.

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