When your mother gives you a pasta machine for your birthday what do you do? Well the obvious answer is to make pasta of course, but before this could transpire I had to silence the sniggering taunts from other family members who laughed at the prospect of me making my own pasta. For someone who previously had little interest or experience in cooking before, they were quite bemused at how I had acquired such a novel distraction in so little a time. Apparently, I somehow went from being completely detached from everything associated with food and the culinary arts to suddenly knowing the difference between Chanterelles and Portobellos.
The fact is, I have always been surrounded by food and have had the benefit of a rich culinary upbringing, but until very recently I never embraced it. Now in my twenties, you can see why it was such a surprise to many when I begin heralding the wonders of homemade shortcrust pastry and start spouting French cooking techniques previously unheard of, coming from these lips.
Seven months after my birthday, the pasta machine remains unused. Until today that is. I decided that today would be the day that I would break in my seven-month old, mint condition pasta machine by making some egg-pasta ravioli. After tasting Pastabilities’ Butternut Pumpkin, Sage and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli, I vowed that if I were ever to make ravioli, I would endeavour to replicate this particular one.
The filling seemed fairly straightforward as all the ingredients were included in the name of the ravioli. And indeed it was simply a matter or combining all these ingredients together. A few taste tests here and there, a few sprinkles of salt here and there and it was done. The filling was velvety and delicate; the hints of sage with the creamy pumpkin tasted blissful. The three ingredients all mingled together, mutually enhancing each others’ flavour. The burnt butter also added an exquisite touch of nuttiness to the filling.
And so it appears that it is they, the doubters that have egg on their faces, as that it was they that were so rapt about my egg pasta ravioli, so much so that they were eating bowlfuls of it. It is only right that it is I, that gets the last laugh. Making pasta can so so much fun.
250g "00" Italian Pasta flour
2 large, fresh, free-range eggs
1 egg yolk
Place flour in a mound on a dry flat surface.
Create a well in the centre of the flour, and crack the eggs and yolk into the well.
Using your fingers or a fork, gently mix the eggs slowly incorporating more and more flour until you create a smooth dough.
Keep kneading the dough with your hands until it becomes smooth and elastic.
Shape dough into a ball and wrap in clear plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
NOTE: Use organic or free-range eggs when possible and it is important to use the freshest eggs that you can obtain.
Also if available, use Italian “00” flour as that they are especially milled for pastas and contain the proper amount of gluten to achieve the desired consistency for pasta dough.
Butternut Pumpkin, Sage Butter and Goat’s Cheese Filling
500g Butternut Pumpkin
25g unsalted butter
8-10 sage leaves
60g goat’s cheese (chévre)
Roast the butternut pumpkin in the oven for 40 minutes, or until soft at 190°C.
When the pumpkin is cooked, spoon out the flesh and place in a bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the bowl for the excess water to drain into.
Allow pumpkin to cool and drain for 20 minutes, and then remove the excess water.
Meanwhile, place butter and sage leaves in a small saucepan and fry until sage leaves are crisp and butter has browned.
Remove the sage leaves and pour the butter into the bowl with the pumpkin.
Add the goat’s cheese and a pinch of sea salt and combine until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency.
Set aside until ready to fill ravioli.
Rolling the Pasta Sheets
Divide the dough into four portions and work with one portion at a time, keeping the others covered.
Take one portion of dough and knead until smooth, roughly flatten the dough with a rolling pin.
Lightly dust with flour on both sides before running through the machine.
Using the pasta machine at its widest setting (highest number), roll the dough through, ensuring that it remains in one piece.
You may want to fold this sheet over and run it through the machine again, at the same setting to ensure you have a smooth texture.
Continue running the sheets of pasta through each setting (decreasing in number), until you achieve the desired thickness (with my pasta machine, I rolled the pasta through, until the number 2 setting).
NOTE: Remember to dust the pasta sheets on both sides to prevent it from sticking.
Also make sure you have adequate bench space for the pasta sheets to lie flat on the bench.
Assembling the Ravioli
Lay your pasta sheets on a flour-dusted surface.
Heap a good amount of filling onto the centre of each sheet at one end. Repeat this all the way along the sheet at 5cm intervals.
Using a pastry brush, dipped in a little water, evenly brush the pasta around the mounds of filling.
Fold the pasta sheet over, covering the mounds until the two ends meet.
Push out any air by cupping the filling and extracting the little air bubbles that form.
Using a knife, pizza cutter or crinkly cutter, trim the sides of the ravioli.
The ravioli is now ready to be cooked or they can be stored in the freezer, in a container dusted with flour for up to 4 weeks.
Butternut Pumpkin, Sage Butter and Goat's Cheese Filling