Pasta à la Anna – the Apecchio way

I have tried for years to make the perfect home made pasta and never really succeded. There are so many different recipes and ways of making it that it makes your head spin and you can’t try them all. My ravioli have either come apart and the filling melting into the water or the pasta has had a grey unpleasant looking apperance. So, whilst on a trip to the paint shop in Fano with our italian friend Anna, I asked her what I was doing wrong. She had no idea, she said she wasn’t very good at cooking, but she’d give me her recipe for pasta and the spinache and ricotta filling that is typical of our local town Apecchio. Whilst my husband drove in his newly acquired italian way, she listed ingredients and methods whilst I tried to take notes on a piece of paper I found in my handbag. We’ve used this recipe loads now and it works.

Recipe:

150g of eggs          About 3 medium ones. Try to get extra yellow yolks, in Italy they have eggs especially for making pasta.

225g of 00 flour   This is 1.5 times the weight of the eggs, so if you want to increase the quantity it is easy to calculate

Method:

Weigh the flour and put it in a medium sized bowl. Create a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs.

Using a fork, mix the eggs together, slowly incorporating flour from the sides of the bowl. I always do this in the bowl rather than on a board as it gets so so messy if the eggs find a low ridge in the flour and run onto the board and the table. When combined, empty the dough onto a slightly floured surface. Just enough to stop it sticking. Knead it for a few minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rest for a one and half to two hours. No need to put it in the fridge.

When it has rested you can just roll it out as thinly as you can get it and use a pastry wheel to cut tagliatelle or use a square something make farfalle. It only needs a couple of minutes to boil.

If you want to make ravioli with Apecchio filling read on. I know spinache and ricotta are a common filling for ravioli but it’s so popular here and the recipe came from Anna that we now refer to it as Apecchio ravioli. The recipe is a little vague as she just normally makes is without weighing or measuring. Just remember that the raviolis take less filling than you think.

Filling:

1 medium bag of spinache I always get the ready washed because I’m lazy.

Small knob of butter to cook the spinche in. Keep it small as you will need to get rid of as much liquied from the spinache as you can later.

A couple of tablespoons of Ricotta

Parmesan for filling and for serving

A squeeze of lemon

Grated nutmeg and seasoning to taste

Method:

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the spinache. Cook on a low heat until wilted and all the liquid has evaported. You don’t want anything too wet inside your ravioli.  Drain any liquid and leave on side until cool.

When cool, squeeze the spinache in a kitchen towel or good quality kitchen roll until it is as dry as you can make it.

Put the spinache into a medium sized bowl and add the ricotta, egg, lots of parmesan, nutmeg, seasoning and a squeeze of lemon. Mix this until combined.

Throw some flour onto a worktop or baking tray ensuring it is large enough for your rolled out dough. I had a flour accident on this pasta session. Don’t use quite as much as this 🙂 Using a long rollingpin, roll out the pasta as thinly as you can get it without it breaking. If you only have a normal sized rolling pin that works fine too.

Now, we use a special rollingpin called: mattarello per ravioli which you can get from Amazon. It’s so easy to make ravioli with it.

If you haven’t got this rolling pin you can make the ravioli by cutting round or square shapes from the dough, adding a teaspoon of filling, depending on the size of your ravioli. Dab the ends of your cut pasta with egg or water and put a top lid on, smoothing the ends down from the middle to get all the air out of the ravioli and finally pressing the ends together. Take care so that they don’t stick down on your work surface and break. I’ve used glass jars and cups before.

If you have this rolling pin: add the filling to half the rolled dough in an even layer.

Fold the unfilled part over the filled part and slowly and steadily roll your  mattarello over it making sure you press it down properly so that the sides of each ravioli stick together.

Then use a pastry cutter to cut the filled raviolis out. I used too much flour on this batch as you can see but they turned out gorgeous.

Boil the ravioli for a couple of minutes whilst frying some garlic in a large glug of olive oil. Take care so that the garlic doesn’t burn as it smells really bad and tastes bitter. If you, like me struggle to fry garlic without it burning you can just crush the whole garlic and leave it in the olive oil until it starts turning a light golden colour and remove it with tongs. It flavours the oil beautifully. You can also add finely cut courgette or pancetta or mushrooms to the garlic olive oil if you like.

When the ravioli are cooked and drained, add them to the frying pan and serve with lots of parmesan.

The reason this recipe has no salt in the pasta or filling is because these little raviolis freeze very well and if you feel more salt is required you can always add it to the sauce.

I hope you try this recipe and please leave a comment with photo if you do.

Ciao for now.

xx

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