Nota per lettori italiani/e: troverete un riassunto alla fine del post
This recipe took me well outside my comfort zone. I had only once before made pasta, and that was at least 15 years ago. On that occasion I used a rolling pin, and not only was it very hard work, but the results were not that wonderful. Recently I’d been hankering to give it another go, and so was glad to find that this month’s challenge on Quanti Modi di Fare e Rifare (an on-line Italian cooking group) was for ravioli. What’s more it was for a recipe with a very unusual (some might say alarming) combination of flavours, that actually worked very well together.
This time I armed myself with the correct tools: a shiny new Imperia pasta maker, and a specialised ravioli cutter (7.5cm across).
I’ll present first a quick version of the recipe, translated and adapted from the recipe Ravioli di pere con speck e aceto balsamico from Elena at Zibaldone Culinario. Then I’ll give some notes based on my experience as a novice pasta maker.
For the Egg Pasta
- 250g type 00 pasta flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Water to mix
For the Pear and Ricotta Filling
- 3 Williams pears, not too ripe, peeled and cored OR the equivalent in drained tinned pears (in fruit juice not syrup)
- 200g ricotta
- 50g grated grana padano cheese
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
- 5-6 slices of speck or (smoked) pancetta / streaky bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 30g butter
- Balsamic glaze or vinegar
- Grated parmesan
You’ll also Need
- A pasta machine
- A ravioli cutter
- A couple of baking trays
- Semolina for dusting
Mix the pasta ingredients, adding some water if necessary, but only enough to bring everything together into a dough.
Knead for just as long as it takes to get a smooth dough. Form into a ball, cover with plastic, and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Drain the ricotta in a sieve. Peel and core the pears (or drain the tinned ones) and cut into dice about 6mm in size. Mix the ricotta with the egg and grana padano, season with salt and pepper to taste, then gently mix in the pears.
Divide the dough into about 4 balls and use the pasta machine to roll them out till they are paper thin. Throughout this process, make sure to dust the pasta frequently with semolina to prevent it sticking to the machine or itself.
Dot the filling over the pasta, using a teaspoon and knife. Brush a little water around each blob of filling, then cover with another sheet of pasta and gently press into place, taking care to expel as much air as possible. Form the ravioli using the special cutter or a knife and transfer to a baking sheet dusted with semolina.
The ravioli can be used immediately, kept in the fridge overnight (in which case you might want to dry them out a little first), or stored in the freezer (they can be cooked straight from frozen).
Cook the ravioli in plenty of fast boiling water. They will need roughly 3-4 minutes, depending on whether they are freshly made.
Drain them well and coat gently with a little butter. Place on a plate and drizzle (artistically) with balsamic glaze/vinegar. Garnish with the speck/pancetta/streaky, which you have browned in a little oil then cut it into thin ribbons, followed by the grated parmesan and chopped chives.
A Great Video
I found a very useful, and rather charming, video (with English commentary) in which Grandma Rosa demonstrates how to make ravioli, from making the pasta right through to cooking the ravioli.
Notes from a Novice Pasta Maker
Making pasta is a messy business! Using semolina rather than flour for dusting does reduce this somewhat, but still I was glad my partner was out for the night, and spared the horrors of what was going on in the kitchen. When he returned, you would never have guessed the scene of devastation that had been present shortly before.
Have plenty of semolina on hand before you start rolling. I used the kind that is sold for making pudding in the UK. This worked fine for dusting, though I think it would have been too coarse for use in the actual dough.
I suspect getting the right texture for pasta is something you learn from experience. Certainly mine was too sticky, and my first beautiful concertina of rolled dough stuck irretrievably to itself. But on subsequent rollings this was remedied by dusting the outside of the dough with semolina before each pass through the machine. I read somewhere that the ideal texture for the dough is like plasticene. This sounds about right: something firm but pliable and only slightly sticky.
The exact size of the piece of dough to put through the machine depends to a certain extent on how well you can cope with the final size of the rolled dough, as even quite a small ball ends up as a very long sheet. I’d suggest you start quite small, with something bigger than an egg and smaller than an apple, and increase the size of the next piece if you feel you can manage it.
Use the following procedure with each piece of dough. Set the machine to its widest setting and pass the dough through it five times, folding it in three and dusting with semolina between passes. Don’t’ be tempted to omit this stage. It works and strengthens the dough, and saves you the effort of kneading it for 10 minutes at the outset.
Now work your way through the settings down to the narrowest, and pass the pasta through once or twice at each setting, remembering to dust with semolina as required. At first the dough will seem to grow in size quite slowly, but eventually you should have a long (potentially very long) strip which is paper thin.
I stopped one short of the thinnest setting on my machine, partly through faint-heartedness, partly because I thought the pasta was thin enough. This was a mistake, as I had not realised that the pasta would thicken up when cooked.
To get the spacing of the filling right, I found it useful to mark the pasta by pressing the ravioli cutter gently into the surface. Don’t overdo the filling; you need to leave about 1.5 around each blob.
There are various ways to cover the filling. If your sheet is wide enough, you can position it towards the bottom of the pasta strip and fold the top edge over to cover. This was my most successful method. Another way I tried was to put the filling on every other square along the length of the strip then start folding over from one end. This was not so satisfactory as you end up with annoying extra bits of dough on the next ravioli. Of course you could cover the whole sheet with another one but I didn’t have the courage to try that. Maybe next time!
The specialised cutter does a great job of sealing and forming the ravioli. Press down firmly, and then twist slightly to detach the ravioli. Before lifting the cutter, scrape off any extra bits of pasta from around the edges.
A Note on Ingredients
Speck is, I believe, a strongly flavoured ham or bacon from the north of Italy. I wasn’t able to find any so I used some smoked streaky bacon which I sautéed with a few juniper berries.
I found it hard to drizzle balsamic vinegar in the artistic way that Elena does in her photograph, so I suspect what you want is a balsamic glaze/reduction. There are various recipes for this on line, and it seems you can buy it ready made.
You may wince at my suggesting using tinned pears. But on my pastry course with Richard Bertinet, he suggested using tinned pears for making pear and almond tarts, as they are picked at just the right stage of freshness, which is quite hard to achieve with fresh pears. So if it’s good enough for a master baker it’s good enough for me! I did however use pears in fruit juice rather than syrup.
Sono molto felice di partecipare per la prima volta a Quanti Modi di Fare e Rifare, un gruppo di cucina on-line italiano, e vorrei ringraziare di cuore le sue ideatrici, Ornella (Il giardino dei sapori e dei colori) ed Anna (C’è di mezzo il mare).
La ricetta di questo mese era per Ravioli di pere con speck e aceto balsamico, ed ho molto apprezzato questa versione di ravioli insolita e gustosa. L’ho adattata solo per riflettere la mia inesperienza nel fare la pasta (è stata sola la seconda volta che l’ho fatta in vita mia) e la mancanza di certi ingredienti dove abito. Non vedo l’ora di partecipare ancora una volta a questo gruppo.
Sono inglese, e mi scuso per non aver scritto più in italiano, ma la stanchezza ed il tempo mi hanno vinto 😦 Alla prossima!
quanti modi di fare e rifare said:
Grazie della tua bella versione, sei stata molto gentile.
Questo mese c’è una bella sorpresa
Grazie a voi! E complimenti per il nuovo, bellisimo sito.
Molto bella anche la tua versione ed i ravioli tagliati ordinati…
Bel blog ti leggero` volentieri e se non ti dispiace commentero` in italiano…..
Grazie Francesca. Certo che puoi commentare in italiano, mi piace leggerlo 🙂
Grazie per aver partecipato a questa bella iniziativa di Anna e Ornella….complimenti per la preparazione!
Grazie. Sono molto felice che ho finalmente “taken the plunge”, come si dice in inglese (significa letteralmente tuffarsi, ma vuol dire qualcosa come arrischiarsi). Non avrei dovuto esitare a partecipare. L’esperienza e’ stata molto gradevole e anche di piu’ l’accoglienza che ho ricevuto dagli altri membri del gruppo. Tornero’!
great version! and well done for trying fresh pasta again! I have your same problem: without a pasta machine, I can’t make the sheets thin enough 😦
Grazie Alessandra. Beata te che vivi nella Scozia, paese di miei genitori! Visitero’ certo il tuo blog – il titolo mi piace tanto!
c'è di mezzo il mare said:
Grazie cara Euan,
sono felice della tua partecipazione. I tuoi ravioli sono molto invitanti.
Grazie Anna. Sono felicissimo di aver partecipato!
benvenuto nella banda del 6 del mese!! ottimo inizio!!
Che bello, una new entry! Per essere la seconda volta sei stata bravissima! Ciao
Grazie Stella. Non passeranno 15 anni prima della prossima volta!
Your pasta looks heavenly! I really want to get a pasta machine as I’ve not made my own for years…might have to investigate getting one tomorrow 🙂
Thank you Kate. A pasta machine certainly makes a difference, and I got a thrill out of seeing the little concertinas of dough building up underneath. Although come to think of it, maybe you’re supposed to guide them out the front… PS Buy that machine!
Benvenuto nel gruppo, ottima la tua presentazione!
Giusta pure la sostituzione dello speck con il bacon, complimenti!!!
L’aceto balsamico tradizionale è molto denso, ma si può sostituire con una riduzione di aceto e miele…prova è una delizia!!! Bravissimo!!!!
Grazie Elena. Grazie anche per la tua bella ricetta e per l’informazione sopra il balsamico. Dovro’ scrutare i vari tipi di balsamico al mio supermercato. Ne hanno tanti e forse c’e ne uno tradizionale.
i have been looking a diy ravioli recipe! i love the filling! thanks so much for the recipe 🙂
Thanks Kat. Let me know how you get on!
Ciao Euan lieta di conoscerti! Sono molto felice di averti tra noi nella nostra cucina aperta, grazie di cuore! Bellissima anche la tua versione dei ravioli e complimenti per l’italiano! A presto
Grazie Ornella. Mi e’ piaciuto tanto l’esperienza ed il benvenuto che mi hanno dato tanti membri del gruppo. Pucce pugliesi “here we come!”
My Italian Smörgåsbord (Aka Barbara) said:
wow. so you did join the group!
and I am so surprised about your Italian… google translate or farina del tuo sacco?
really honest tutorial and very good job with these ravioli. I am also outside of my comfort zone with home-made pasta and I am still waiting for the right stars conjunction to break the ice.
Hi Barbara. First of all I must thank you for making me aware of this group. I’ve really enjoyed taking part and have been touched by the welcome i have received. “Farina del mio sacco?” Si’ (che bell’ espressione!) I speak Italian, though writing it always takes me ages. I do use google translate sometimes to give me ideas for words or phrases, but I would never trust it for a final version. It often seems to have all the right words but not arranged in a way that makes any sense 🙂
Love the sound of that filling – need an excuse to get out my long-neglected pasta maker. I have ravioli cutter envy now.
It is a rather satisfying little gadget 🙂
Ciao Euan, felici di conoscerti
Molto belli i tuoi ravioli e bellissima la tua partecipazione.
Hai visto che sorpresa questo mese….:il blog quanti modi fare e rifare con il suo primo post!!!
Ti aspettiamo allora il 6 giugno
A presto le 4 apine
Ciao “busy bee”! O forse “bees”? Il nuovo blog mi piace molto. Staro’ con voi facendo le pucce in giugno, sebbene non ne ho mai vista una, per non dire mangiata! Sara’ interessante…
Benvenuto! La tua preparazione è veramente bella, le foto poi sono fantastiche. Nella mia versione ho omesso l’uovo nel ripieno, ho ottenuto così un piatto più leggero ma in cui si avvertiva meglio il profumo della pera. Un abbraccio e buon inizio settimana
Grazie Stefania. Mi piace l’idea di ommettere l’uovo nel ripieno. A parte il sapore/profumo, lo renderebbe forse piu’ morbido. Buona settimana a te!
Anche a me sono piaciuti molto, anche se generalmente non impazzisco per i sapori strani, Benvenuto nella cerchia!!!
El Oso con Botas said:
I love pasta and specially ravioli. This must be a great recipe. Sweet fillings are delicious. I love the one done with pumping, italian ham and amarettis… 🙂
Ola Oso! Long time no hear from. Ravioli with ham and amaretti – fascinating!
I’ve eaten this recipe at a restaurant in Barcelona before. With pesto to top it is superb!