Earlier this week, my lovely friend and colleague Sal mentioned she was looking to get a pasta maker. I jumped up in a slightly over-excited manner and said I had been wanting to get a pasta maker for ages and that we should both get one that day. We started looking online for pasta makers but after reading lots of conflicting reviews, we were more confused than ever come lunchtime.
Sal decided she was going to stick to rolling out the pasta dough herself, but I decided to pop down to John Lewis in my lunch hour to get her some pasta cutters and also have a look at what they have to offer. Turns out, they had a £70 Imperia pasta maker and a Kitchen Craft one that was just £22.50! Naturally, I was sceptical about the cheaper one being good quality but it’s the middle of the month so naturally I have very little money left in my bank account and there was no way I was spending £70 on something that could potentially spend a lot of time in the cupboard after the initial flurry of excitement that inevitably happens after you buy a new gadget.
So I left John Lewis with my new £22.50 pasta maker, my brain whirring with ideas of what to make that night. I knew I had chorizo and mushrooms back at home so I decided I would make two different types of ravioli – chorizo with goats cheese and toasted pine nuts, and mushroom and thyme.
So I rushed home at 6pm, picking up some ‘OO’ flour on the way and then set about making my pasta dough. I placed 300g of the flour on a board and made a well in the centre, cracking 3 eggs into it. Generally speaking, it’s a safe bet to use 1 egg per 100g of flour.
I beat the eggs with a fork then used the tips of my fingers to mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything was combined. (next time I think I’ll do this in the food processor as it would be a lot quicker and create less mess) Then I kneaded the dough for about 5 minutes until I had one big, smooth and silky lump of dough. I wrapped it in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for an hour while I made the fillings. (details below)
I unpacked my pasta machine from its box, clamped it to my work surface and dusted the machine and the work surface with some more flour. Then I took the pasta out of the fridge, unwrapped the cling film and pressed it until it flattened. I set the pasta machine to its widest setting and started to roll the dough through it.
I did this a few times, folding the pasta after each turn through the roller, just to work the pasta and get it looking silky. I then turned the dial down to the next, narrower setting and passed the pasta through again, lightly dusting the pasta with a little flour each time I ran it through. Once I got down about 3 or 4 settings, the pasta was so thin it was getting tricky to handle and I was nervous I was going to put my fingers through it so I stopped. It was silky and shiny and with ravioli you need it to be super thin as you are sandwiching two layers together when it is folded.
I laid it out on my work surface and cut out large rounds with a cookie cutter. I placed a heaped teaspoon of filling into the middle of each round, brushed with beaten egg around the filling, then laid another round of pasta on top and sealed, making sure there were no air bubbles trapped in between the layers and placed to one side. I don’t think this was the most efficient way of doing it with hindsight. Next time I’ll place spoonfuls of filling along the laid out sheet of rolled pasta, a couple of inches apart, brush with egg down the sides then fold over the pasta and then cut it out with a cookie cutter.
To cook the pasta, I brought a large pan of salted water to just below the boil and gently cooked the ravioli, about 4 at a time, for 4-5 minutes, until the pasta was al dente.
Whilst the pasta was cooking, I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter in a frying pan, grated some nutmeg into it then added about 5 basil leaves and fried gently until the pasta was ready. I then drained the pasta, plated it up and poured the butter over it and topped it with some fresh parmesan. Perfect!
This really did taste fantastic. The pasta was so light and the fillings worked really well. Topped with the butter flavoured with nutmeg and basil, it was the perfect meal.
I would thoroughly recommend trying this out. Its a bit of a faff for a Tuesday night, especially if you don’t get home until 7.30pm (bear in mind you have to let the pasta dough chill in the fridge for an hour), but its a great thing to make at the weekend when you have more time to knead, chill, roll, cook and then clean up!
These are the fillings I used:
CHORIZO & GOATS CHEESE RAVIOLI
First I toasted some pine nuts (about 2tbsp) in a dry frying pan until they started to turn golden, then I removed them and chopped coarsely and set to the side in a bowl.
Then in the same frying pan I fried up some cooking chorizo for about 10 minutes. (I used Unearthed chorizo) I knew I was just testing this recipe out so I only used about 100g chorizo just in case it didn’t work out.
Once it was done, I chopped it up and added it to the bowl with the chopped pine nuts. Then I added 100g of soft goats cheese and mixed it all together. I used an egg to bind it all together and a handful of grated parmesan. DONE!
Result: I think these were my favourite. The smoky chorizo, the creamy, tangy goats cheese, the toasted pine nuts. These popped with flavour in my mouth.
MUSHROOM & THYME RAVIOLI
In another frying pan I fried up an onion and 2 cloves of garlic in a little rapeseed oil until soft and golden-brown. Then I added about 150g of chopped chestnut mushrooms and a sprig of thyme and fried until tender and reduced in size. I seasoned and set aside to cool. Just before I added to the pasta, I stirred through some toasted pine nuts, purely because I think toasted pine nuts make everything taste amazing.
Result: These were really very good. Thyme works so wonderfully with mushrooms, they tasted so earthy and the addition of pine nuts lifted them to another level. I’m a bit obsessed with chorizo at the moment which is why that filling ‘won’ on the night but these were delicious.