Homemade ravioli with spinach and ricotta

  

Nothing beats that melt in the mouth beautiful fresh pasta taste. I know I’ve posted a spinach and ricotta ravioli recipe a couple of years back now but this is my “new and improved” and it’s damn delicious… As you can see from the above picture I don’t own a pasta rack so my washing line just had to do haha. This recipe is great for dinner parties or a weekend evening dish for your other half.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 4 eggs

Filling

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 800g ricotta cheese
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt and pepper

Sauce 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 jar passata
  • salt and pepper

Serves 6

Method

To make the dough use your hands to shape the flour into a circular mound and make a well in the centre. Place the eggs in the well and use a fork to lightly whisk. Use your fingertips to gradually blend a little flour into the egg mixture. Working with your fingertips, continue to gradually draw the flour into the centre (being careful the egg mixture does not run out of the well) until the mixture forms a dough. To check if the dough is the right consistency, press a clean, dry finger into the centre of the dough. If it comes out clean without being sticky, it is the right consistency. If not, knead in a little more flour and test again.

Lightly flour the surface if necessary. Firmly knead the dough by using the heel of your hand to firmly push down into it and then away from you. Lift the dough with your fingertips and fold it back on itself towards you. Turn the dough a half turn and repeat. Continue kneading the dough for 6-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and set aside for an hour.

To make the filling heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the spinach and toss for 1-2 minutes or just until wilted, then drain well. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as possible. Finely chop the spinach, then place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the passata, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the passata, salt and pepper and simmer. Reheat just before serving.

Divide the pasta dough into 4 portions, then working with one piece at a time flatten the dough firmly with the heel of your hand on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pasta several times through the widest setting on a pasta machine and continue feeding it through reducing the settings one notch at time until you come to the second last setting. The pasta should feel silky and smooth. Use a wine glass to cut even circular shapes in the dough.

Start adding a teaspoon of filling to each circle of dough (making sure you don’t add too much filling or the ravioli won’t hold). Wet the outside with a little bit of egg so the dough sticks together. Place another circle dough on the top and press the sides then fork around the edge until the pasta is firmly stuck together.

To cook, carefully drop the ravioli into a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes or until al dente, then pour into a colander and drain well. Transfer the ravioli to a large serving dish, spoon over the hot passata, and top with grated Parmesan. ONE WORD: YUM!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Via Napoli – review

zucchini seafood gnocchi

628 Crown St, Surry Hills

Brace yourselves food lovers, Via Napoli is the spot to be (well in the inner city that is).

I recently spent a beautiful evening with my family at Via Napoli and my pallet has been craving the delicious Italian food ever since. We arrived on a Saturday night without a booking (I wouldn’t recommend this though), and were lucky enough to get a table in the packed restaurant. As soon as you walk in you are greeted by warm, friendly Italian staff. This dining experience reminded me of Europe in terms of the authenticity of the waiters, the generous and gorgeous servings, and the hustle and bustle.

The menu is absolutely divine, which made it very hard to choose our dishes to share. We started with the ‘Cuppitiello di fiori di zucca ripieni’ – Zucchini flowers stuffed with buffalo ricotta and pepper. These were by far the best zucchini flowers I’ve demolished – the outside crispy and inside oozing with hot, decadent cheese.

Our next dish was the ‘Grigliata mista di pesce’ – Scampi, prawns and octopus marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic, and fresh parsley. And oh my lord was every piece of seafood on this beautiful looking board cooked to absolute perfection! The portions were generous (which is everyone’s dream when ordering seafood) and the balance of the marinade, with the crunch of fresh roquette in ones mouth was divine. If you’re a seafood lover, I highly recommend this dish!

The last sharing dish, but certainly not least was the ‘Gnocchi alla sorrentina’ – Homemade gnocchi served with a Neapolitan sauce with melted buffalo mozzarella. Do I need to write anything else? Seriously though this dish will put the best chefs in Italy to shame! Each morsel is a little bite of heaven. The potato is cooked perfectly, the sauce is so fresh you can taste each tomato, and it’s just all round a little orgasm in ones mouth to be completely honest!

The dishes are all very reasonably priced (especially for Sydney), and the overall dining experience makes you feel like you’ve been teleported to Rome. Did I mention they have metre long pizzas too? You should definitely make a booking, especially dining Thursday – Sunday. They have Via Napoli restaurants in Lane Cove and Hunters Hill too.

I rate Via Napoli 5/5.

Happy eating, love Jem x

Three cheese stuffed zucchini

image

I absolutely adore zucchini – the vegetable is so versatile and most ways you cook it, it’s delicious! Stuffed vegetables are such a great way of mixing different food groups and great combinations together for a side, or even a main meal. Last night I made three cheese stuffed zucchini boats and they were a hit! I made my own passata and that just added a freshness of flavour that made the dish. These are the perfect entree for a dinner party as they’re easy to make and you can just whack them in the oven whilst entertaining. Eggplant and capsicum would also work perfectly as the ‘boat’.

Ingredients

Zucchini boats

  • zucchinis, halved
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs/stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 5 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of parmesan cheese

Passata

  • 5 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 5 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Serves 8

Method

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add zucchini and cook until tender, about 15 minutes then drain. Once cooled down scoop out the flesh of the zucchini, making a ‘boat’.

In a medium bowl combine zucchini flesh, bread crumbs, cheeses, parsley and egg then salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Fill zucchini’s with mixture, then sprinkle parmesan on each boat. Place in the oven on a baking tray and cook for 30 minutes or until golden.

To make the passata cook the tomatoes in a small saucepan on low heat. Add the parsley and salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes with the lid on, stirring every five minutes.

Serve zucchini boats hot with the passata drizzled on top and enjoy!

Healthy fact

Zucchini is one of the lowest calorie vegetables; it’s only 17 calories per 100g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a good source of dietary fibre and offers protection against colon cancers.

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Spinach and ricotta ravioli

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I absolutely adore pasta and I could eat it probably every day. It’s so versatile as you can fill ravioli with any ingredient and make a yummy little sauce to complement. This recipe is an easy one for homemade pasta and you don’t even need a pasta machine, yay! I will warn you though this is not a 15 minute meal, so allocate a good hour or so just to be safe. Spinach and ricotta is my favourite filling as the flavour combination is divine!

Ingredients

Pasta

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 4 eggs

Filling

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 bag baby spinach
  • salt and pepper

Dressing/sauce 

  • olive oil
  • pine nuts
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • parmesan cheese sprinkle
  • parsley to garnish

Serves 4

Method

Use your hands to shape the flour into a circular mound and make a well in the centre. Place the eggs in the well and use a fork to lightly whisk. Use your fingertips to gradually blend a little flour into the egg mixture. Working with your fingertips, continue to gradually draw the flour into the centre (being careful the egg mixture does not run out of the well) until the mixture forms a dough. To check if the dough is the right consistency, press a clean, dry finger into the centre of the dough. If it comes out clean without being sticky, it is the right consistency. If not, knead in a little more flour and test again.

Lightly flour the surface if necessary. Firmly knead the dough by using the heel of your hand to firmly push down into it and then away from you. Lift the dough with your fingertips and fold it back on itself towards you. Turn the dough a half turn and repeat. Continue kneading the dough for 6-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (Kneading is an important part of the pasta-making process as it develops the gluten in the flour, giving the pasta a firm, tender texture.) Wrap the dough in cling/plastic wrap and set aside for half an hour.

While the dough is resting it’s time to make the filling! Cook spinach in olive oil in a pan until wiltered then set aside to cool. Once spinach is around room temperature add the ricotta then mix and add salt & pepper to season.

Dust a clean surface with flour and start rolling the dough until quite thin (about 1.5 mm). Once the dough is at the consistency you are happy with then divide it into two sheets. With the first sheet of pasta start adding the spoonfuls of filling (make sure you spread this out and don’t add too much filling or the ravioli won’t hold).

Wet with water around the outside of each little filling on the pasta sheets and then cut around so there’s individual pasta mixture with fillings. With the second sheet of pasta cut to fit over the first sheet with filling and fork around the edge till they are stuck together.

Once the ravioli is made and looking firm then start boiling water. They should cook for about 20 minutes in the boiling water but the time varies so it is best to keep your eye on it.

While the pasta is cooking, lightly fry the pine nuts and chilli in oil.

Once the ravioli is cooked drizzle the oil, chilli and pine nut dressing then garnish with parsley. I can’t resist adding parmesan cheese too. Enjoy!

Healthy fact 

Spinach has an extremely high nutritional value and is rich in antioxidants. It is a good source of vitamins A, B2, C and K, and also contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.

Happy cooking, love Jem x