Monday, April 13, 2009

Homemade Ravioli of Spinach and Ricotta, Béchamel Sauce with a twist and Toasted Macadamia Nuts

I love pasta. My whole family loves pasta. The other day I wanted to surprise my husband for lunch. So, I made this delicious dish for him.

Here we go!


For the pasta dough:
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting.
3 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1 Tbsp. extra virgen olive oil

For the ravioli filling:
4 tspn. olive oil
1 package frozen spinach thawed
1 container ricotta cheese (almost two cups)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce:
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cup heavy whip cream
1 heaping Tbsp. rubbed sage (or about 25 fresh sage leaves)
1/2 tsp. garlic (powder or granulated)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the Topping:
1/2 cup toasted and chopped macadamia nuts (You can replace this for Pine Nuts)
Asiago shredded cheese
Mint leaves
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


To make the pasta dough:

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and form a well in the center of the flour. Place the egg yolks, eggs and olive oil in the center of the well. Using a fork, whisk the eggs and oil to blend.

Gradually whisk the flour into the egg mixture until a thick batter forms. Using your hands, gradually mix in enough of the remaining flour to form a shaggy dough (you won't need all of the flour).

DO NOT incorporate any hardened bits of the flour into the dough. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and semi-soft. Wrap the dough in plastic and rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

To make the ravioli filling:

Place a large sauté pan over moderate to high heat. Once the pan is hot, drizzle the olive oil into the pan and add the spinach (make sure to eliminate the excess of liquid from the spinach before you put them in the pan). Season with a little salt and pepper.

Sauté for two minutes or just until the spinach looks wilted. Transfer it to a strainer or colander to cool. Gently squeeze it and eliminate the excess of oil.

Once the spinach is cold, mix it with the ricotta. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the ravioli:

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Keep three of them wrapped in the plastic wrap so that they do not dry out.

Dust the unwrapped piece of dough with some flour and flatten it with your hand. Roll it back and forth until it gets really thin (almost transparent). If you have a pasta maker, this step will be much faster and effortless!. If not, get some good muscles with me and roll that pasta dough!

Once you have finished to roll the piece of dough, place it on a floured surface and start to spoon the spinach filling over the pasta sheet, using about 2 teaspoons of the mixture in each mound and spacing them evenly apart. I made mine shaped like a rectangle and put the mixture close to the bottom part)

Lightly brush with egg wash (I used the left over egg whites from the dough) that surrounds the filling. Lightly brush the second pasta sheet (the one you will put on top, in my case I simply covered the mounds with the top of my sheet).

Press the edges together to seal, squeezing out any air pockets. Cut out the raviolis. (I used a big biscuit cutter, you can use a pasta tool, or cut them into squares).

Transfer the ravioli to a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pasta dough and filling. Depending on the size and shape you choose to use, you may have between 24 to 35 ravioli total. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Bring a large pot to boil with salted water over high heat. Add the ravioli to the boiling salted water and cook for about 3 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the filling is heated through (A good hint is that the cooked ravioli with pop to the top of the water)

To make the sauce:

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan add the flour and stir until is well incorporated. Add the heavy whip cream very slowly and let it thicken. Add the nutmeg, rubbed sage and garlic. Let it cook on low heat until gets the right consistency (creamy but not too thick). Once is done turn the heat off and season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

To assemble the plate:

Place about 5 to 6 ravioli (depending on the size and shape) into a extended plate, spoon some sauce over the pasta and sprinkle cheese and toasted macadamia nuts on top. Decorate with a mint sprig.

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