Ravioli or the Raviolo (singular), has been eaten since the 1500s. To put it into perspective, this stuffed pasta has been around since the end of the middle ages till now. This pasta was predominantly found in the royal courts of Northern Italy before slowly spreading to the Southern part of Italy. Thanks to the great chefs for travelling and sharing their recipes, Ravioli was slowly served during feast days in the humbler classes during the 1800s. Till date though, due to the low literacy rate in the Middle Ages, there are insufficient records for food historians to specify exactly the origins of this pasta.
Today, Ravioli is a common dish in Italian restaurants served with different stuffings, shapes and sauces. However, there are a few classic recipes which cities have laid claim to. For example, the Ravioli Alle Cime Di Rapa, Ravioli stuffed with turnip greens sauteed with garlic and olive oil, is unique to Puglia. The reason is because the ingredients used for the filling is uniquely grown in certain territories and therefore, the origins of a particular recipe of Ravioli is traced via their filling.
This recipe is similar to the Ravioli Di Ricotta, except that spinach has been substituted by pumpkin. To enhance the flavor of this filling, pumpkin is first roasted till soft to produce a smokey caramelized taste. The soft flesh will make it easier to mash to form the filling.
The use of ricotta cheese means that you would have to hang it overnight to drain out the liquid. It is a big no no to have watery fillings as it will be difficult to handle the pasta sheet. If you purchase store-bought ricotta cheese, it is less watery and you can just let it drain on a fine sieve for a few hours.
To complement the ravioli, the brown butter sauce has been chosen because of it’s nutty and smokey flavor. Also known as beurre noisette, this french sauce will remove the water content in butter while turning the milk solids brown. Therefore, it is important that you stir the sauce continuously when cooking to ensure that the milk solids do not get burnt. The moment the milk solids start turning brown, squeeze in lemon juice to stop the cooking process. Do note that the lemon juice will cause a huge splatter. Use a deep pot to cook the sauce and make sure you have the lid on standby. Do not get scalded!
For convenience, you may purchase a ravioli maker to help with the demarcation. I used the ravioli stamp to demarcate the sizes so that I knew where and how much filling to pipe in.
Should there be too many ravioli pieces left, simply store in an airtight container and freeze them for up to 2 weeks. When cooking, boil it in salted hot water for 6 minutes. Do not overcook if not the ricotta cheese will be lumpy!
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The Italian Flair
Yields 2 Servings
This stuffed pasta will be an ideal first course for your dinner party or even a cosy weekend dinner with the family!
1 hr, 10 Total Time
- Click here on how to make fresh pasta sheets.
- Pumpkin - 150g
- Ricotta cheese - 50g
- Grated Parmesan Cheese - 40g
- Nutmeg powder - a pinch
- Unsalted Butter - 100g
- Lemon - 1/2
- Basil - 10 leaves
- Almonds - 20g
- Egg - 1 (for egg wash)
- Pastry brush
- Chop the pumpkin into large chunks and roast at 160 deg celsius for 20 minutes until soft.
- Take out from oven and cool it.
- Once cool, puree the pumpkin and leave to hang in muslin cloth overnight to remove the liquid.
- The next day, prepare the fresh pasta and leave to rest before rolling it out.
- Prepare the pumpkin filling. Remove the pumpkin liquid.
- Add the ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese to the pumpkin.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Place into a piping bag and set aside in the fridge.
- Go back to the fresh pasta and prepare 2 pasta sheets by rolling it all the way through to the last dial.
- Pipe approximately 1 tablespoon of the filling in 2 rows on one pasta sheet.
- Using the pastry brush, brush the egg wash around the fillings.
- Place another sheet on top.
- Press around mounds to make sure there is no air inside.
- Cut to desired shape.
- To prepare the dish, chop the almonds coarsely and slice the basil into thin strips.
- Heat a large pot of salted water. Cook the ravioli in boiling water for 3 minutes.
- Heat the butter in a small saucepan over low fire. Stir continuously as the butter melts and milk solids turn brown.
- Add some basil strips to lightly fry.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice. Be careful of the butter splattering and have the saucepan cover on standby.
- Drain the ravioli well and toss with the sauce.
- Plate and garnish with the chopped almonds and remaining fresh basil.
1) To check if it's ready, just poke with a fork and it should cut through easily. 2) A fine sieve may be used in replacement of the muslin cloth. 3) It is important to ensure no air bubbles when the pasta sheets are sealed together. This will prevent the ravioli from bursting when cooked in boiling water.