i just want to say that italians are brilliant. we first invented pasta, the love of my life, then we had the revelation to use the dough to create little pockets and fill it with beautiful fresh ricotta cheese. ravioli is probably my favourite of all the pastas in the land (orecchiette you come a close second, don’t worry cutie). i dream of the endless possibilities of fillings: mushroom and braised beef (coming soon hopefully), sweet butternut squash or pumpkin, spicy sausage and rapini – or the more unusual ones i’ve had like pig heart with stracciatella foam.
but, since the 20th is national ravioli day (i want to be best friends with whoever had the authority to make this a holiday) my nona’s traditional recipe is what i thought is worth celebrating. this dish is one of the things i always requested with ample notice before my visits. hers were always big squares filled generously with ricotta filling and topped with tomato sauce and romano cheese – always the perfect ratio.
i took down this recipe from her when i was home last – the only thing i did differently was use my beautiful new walnut handle ravioli stamp from william sonoma. but otherwise, same perfect pasta dough, her tried and true filling, and classic tomato sauce. no frills, no modifications, just proper, comforting, traditional ravioli.
nona’s ricotta ravioli
*makes about 20
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 eggshell of water
500g full fat fresh ricotta cheese (the best quality you can get your hands on)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons grated romano cheese
salt to taste
•make fresh pasta dough: dump the flour onto your counter or another smooth workspace. make a well in the middle and add eggs. using a fork, gently mix the eggs bringing in flour gradually until a ragged dough forms. then using your hands, knead the dough with the half eggshell of water for at least 10-12 minutes until it becomes smooth. place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. let rest for at least 30 minutes.
•make the filling: if you find your ricotta is very wet – drain it in cheesecloth over a bowl overnight or while you make the pasta. add all ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine.
•assembly: cut pasta into 4 quarters. roll out dough to the second last setting on your pasta machine (it should be thin but sturdy). get a small bowl of warm water ready and lay one sheet as your base, and drop about a tablespoon of filling down. lay another sheet over top and dip your fingers into the water and gently press down around the filling to seal the dough. you don’t want any air in the pocket. cut using a knife or a ravioli cutter, and store until a cotton towel until ready to cook.
•cook: to cook, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. drop ravioli in and let cook about 3 minutes or until they float to the surface. remove and serve with fresh tomato sauce.