Admittedly, making ravioli requires time, and a considerable amount of it at that. Don’t let this put you off. The process is not only rewarding, but meditative as well. Working the pasta through each of the settings on your pasta machine until it is silky smooth allows plenty of time for reflection and soul-searching, should you be that way inclined! Whilst the pasta-making itself is time-intensive, the steps that follow are straightforward and take very little time to complete.
I spent a year in Paris as an au pair when I left school. I had an amazing time and if there is one meal that sticks in my mind (admittedly there are many more than just one!), it was a simple ravioli dish that I shared with my host mother, Anne-Marie, in a little restaurant in a quaint Parisian arrondissement called Le Marais. As it was several years ago now I struggle to remember exactly what the ravioli was filled with, but the taste and texture of the food, intensified by the beautiful surroundings, left a lasting impression.
I developed this particular ravioli recipe with eggplant in mind, having decided that it is a sadly under-utilised vegetable. So these pillowy pasta pockets are filled with eggplant, the flavour of which takes on a deliciously rich and complex character when roasted. The pairing of the mint pesto with the ravioli provides a fresh, zesty contrast, perfectly complemented by the sweet, nutty pecorino cheese which is generously sprinkled over the top of the pasta to finish the dish off.
See the previous post for fresh egg pasta recipe.
sea salt & pepper
250g ricotta cheese
150g pecorino Romano, grated
1 quantity of fresh egg pasta rolled into sheets (take them down to the thinnest setting)
1 egg white
1. Preheat the oven to 180oC on Bake. Cut the eggplant in half and then slice into thin wedges. Toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplant on an oven tray lined with baking paper (this ensures the delicious crispy bits don’t stick and get left behind) and bake for 20 minutes or until the undersides turn brown and crispy. Turn and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside and cool.
2. Roughly chop the eggplant. Place the ricotta in a bowl and whisk with a fork. Add the eggplant and most of the pecorino (saving a little to serve) and season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
3. Take a sheet of pasta and place heaped teaspoonfuls of the eggplant mixture in the centre of the sheet at 5cm intervals (this distance will vary depending on the width of your pasta sheets. Gaps of 5cm gave me more-or-less square ravioli). Using a pastry brush, brush around the filling with the egg white and then lay another sheet of pasta on top. Press around the filling to join the two pieces of pasta and squeeze out any air that may be trapped in between the layers. Using a serrated pasta/pastry cutter, slice the ravioli into pieces between the mounds of filling.*
4. Bring to the boil a large saucepan filled with salted water. When it reaches a rolling boil, add the ravioli and cook for between 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the pasta. Drizzle with mint pesto and sprinkle with the remaining pecorino Romano to serve.
*Don’t worry if you get irregular shaped and sized ravioli pieces, it is an inevitable consequence of this hand-made process and in fact makes the dish all the more authentic!