Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Wild Garlic Pesto

We got some lovely wild garlic (ramps/ramsons) in our veg box from Growing Communities last week. It seemed like such a treat to get an ingredient that you normally have to forage for that I wanted to make something that really celebrated its flavour - and my god does this pesto do just that! A word of warning - do not eat this before a first date!

The pesto is pretty simple to make, so I had a bit more energy up my sleeve to make something equally tasty to go with it in the form of home made ravioli. I haven't made ravioli for years as we don't have a pasta machine but I had such a craving for it that it was time to put some elbow grease in and make it with a rolling pin and my bare hands! If I do say so myself it didn't turn out half bad. I'm sure if you have a pasta machine it will be a lot easier but if you have a real craving for home made ravioli and a little bit of spare time do give it a go. Once I'd made the dough and filling T and I got a little production line on the go and soon had mounds of the little packages ready to go. We ended up making so much that I have extra raviolis (and pesto) in the freezer for a night when we want a decadent meal without any of the hard work.

Wild Garlic Pesto
Serves 6

1 large bunch of wild garlic, washed
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice

Blitz the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add olive oil to help it break down and come together into a smooth paste. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Taste to check the seasoning and add more Parmesan, salt or lemon juice until you have a bright zingy sauce.

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli
Serves 6

250g Pasta flour (type 00)
3 eggs
1tsp salt

500g large leaf spinach, washed
250g ricotta cheese
whole nutmeg
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
25g basil, washed and finely chopped

Start by making the pasta dough. Add the flour, eggs and salt to a food processor and pulse to bring the dough together. Continue running the machine until a ball of dough forms. Remove the dough and knead for around 5 minutes on a floured work surface until the dough is smooth but still has resistance. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge whilst you make the filling (at least 30 minutes).

To make the filling wilt the spinach in a pan, adding salt and pepper to the leaves as they cook. Transfer the wilted spinach to a sieve and press down with the back of a spoon to remove as much water as possible then finely chop. Add the finely chopped spinach to the ricotta, mix together with a big grating of nutmeg, the Parmesan, basil and plenty of salt and pepper. Taste the filling to check the seasoning and put aside whilst you roll out the dough.

Divide the dough into quarters, work with one piece at a time keeping the other pieces wrapped up in the fridge. Start by rolling the dough out into a rough rectangle on a floured surface, turning the dough around and over after every couple of rolls. Then fold the dough over on itself and roll out again into a rectangle. Repeat this a couple more times, folding and turning the dough around and over plenty of times, until you have a rough rectangle and all the folds have been rolled together. Now you can start rolling your dough out as thin as possible. Continue rolling and turning trying to keep the dough in a rough rectangle, you'll find that it will get to a point when it will start springing back rather than getting any bigger - not a problem, you can still get it bigger! I found the best way was to hold the short part of the dough at the bottom with one hand and continue rolling away from me with another. Continue until the dough is about 1mm thick and you can see through it easily when you hold it up to the light.

I find it best to fill this piece of dough before moving onto rolling out the next piece so that it doesn't dry out. Cut the dough into strips approximately 4cm (1.5in) wide, and then into pieces about 8cm (3in) long. Imagine you have drawn a line down the middle of your strip giving you two 4cm square pieces, put a tsp of filling in the centre of one of your squares, brush the edges with water and fold over the other side. Gently push down around the edges, joining the pasta together and making sure you don't trap any air.

Move the ravioli to a sheet pan sprinkled with more flour or some polenta and continue until you have used up all your dough and filling.

When you are ready to cook the ravioli, add them to a very large pan of salted boiling water and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water and add to a hot frying pan with some melted butter, the pesto, and some of the cooking water, cooking until everything is heated through and the sauce coats the pasta. Serve with more freshly grated Parmesan and a sprinkling of basil.


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