Before the summer ends, you have to make these ravioli. Little pillows of pasta filled with roasted red peppers, cream cheese and served with the most simple sauce you can imagine. The sauce is simply absurdly ripe tomatoes skinned and deseeded then steeped in best quality olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. The ravioli are fished out of their salty water bath and plopped into the raw sauce and all you need to serve is a healthy grating of parmesan cheese. The flavours are light and bright and I defy you not to smile as you eat – the spiky citrus of the lemon balances the sweetness of those ripe and juicy tomatoes in the sauce whilst using cream cheese rather than mascarpone adds cheesy tang to the filling. I have a weakness for jarred roasted red peppers as I love anything and everything vinegary but you may roast your own if you prefer, but if you do I encourage adding some lemon zest to the filling to balance the sweet smokiness from the charred peppers. The hum of chilli does very good things for the big and bold but oh so fresh flavours of this dish and being bold with your choice of chilli (dried flakes, fresh or whichever chilli sauce you prefer) is a very good thing.
You know I love a bargain so despite coming up with the idea right at the beginning of the summer, these ravioli didn’t come to life until I recently acquired a ravioli kit in the House of Fraser sale. If I’m truthful, it is a little bit of a faff to use such a mould especially for such a delicate filling so if you can’t stretch to yet another gadget, simply cutting out the shapes with a knife is more than satisfactory. They do look adorably cute with the rounded mound in the middle and frilly, crimped edge using the mould though… And if you are thinking making your own ravioli is far too much faff to even contemplate it, then be reassured that whilst the pasta needs a rest in the fridge and the tomatoes should be left to steep for a few hours if you can, the ravioli come together rapidly and they cook so fast it is well worth making double or treble and freezing them raw for fast dinners midweek. Just add an extra couple of minutes for them to cook in the boiling water straight from frozen. And using rice flour rather than the durum wheat pasta flour is a brilliant nonstick agent for pasta rolling and shaping – just use the barest amount so not to add too much extra flour to the pasta dough.
Hungry Hubby loves his pasta (he is my Garfield and would eat lasagne every single day if left to his own devices) but even so, both of us were taken aback by how great this meal tasted. It was one of those meals we forced ourselves to slow down even more than usual so to maximise on our eating pleasure! There were many “ooo’s” and “mmm’s” as we polished off the lot. A lot of ravioli recipes are very hearty and wintery, (the ragu ones or those served with lashings of sage butter for instance) so it was so refreshing to have such clean and light flavours plus not cooking the sauce saves so much time. An eternal pessimist by nature, although a hopeless romantic and hopeful dreamer too, I frequently surprise myself when one of my ideas works and this recipe was one of my unexpected successes!
The last thing I want to say is, if you don’t have time to make the ravioli or like me the first time, make too much filling, know that it is wonderful as a simple pasta bake. Simply cook some dried pasta shapes until al dente, drain reserving a cup of the pasta water and fold through the filling, loosening with pasta water as needed (a little too loose is better than a little too dry). Grate over copious amounts of parmesan and bake until the top is crispy. A can of peas or handful of frozen veg stirred through before baking makes this not only super fast but delicious and nutritious for a midweek meal; so you can choose whether you want to inhabit your kitchen this weekend and make the full ravioli meal or just make the filling (or the sauce for that matter) to feed you hungry and tired tums in the middle of the working week.
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 200g pasta flour (tipo 00)
- Salt and pepper
- A little rice flour (or extra pasta flour) to dust and roll out with later
- 6 medium-large very ripe and flavourful tomatoes
- 1 large garlic clove
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (Maldon for preference)
- Lots of freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 well drained and dried roasted red pepper from a jar
- 1 small clove of garlic, grated or minced
- 60g full fat cream cheese
- 1-2 tbsp parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 tsp chilli sauce or minced fresh chilli
- Make the pasta by pulsing everything together in a food processor until forms clumps then bring together by hand, wrap in cling and refrigerate until needed. Or knead everything together by hand in a large bowl if you don't have a processor.
- Make the sauce. Cut crosses in the bottoms of the tomatoes and place in a large heat proof bowl then cover with water from a just boiled kettle and leave for 5-10 minutes.
- Drain well then remove the skins, seeds and any tough parts of the core. You will lose about half the volume of the tomatoes by doing this but it's not a dish to be drowned in sauce.
- Dice roughly and place in a large bowl big enough to toss the cooked pasta in later and add all the other ingredients - mix well and leave for 30 minutes up to 8 hours at room temperature to macerate.
- Make the filling. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until only just combined - cream cheese in the UK is far less stiff than mascarpone so go easy, you don't want it sloppy. Be bold with this chilli if that is your thing (it is mine!).
- Roll the pasta through your pasta machine until very thin - using a little rice flour to dust is great in stopping it sticking to your machine and work top. Bare in mind pasta swells dramatically on cooking and you have two layers per ravioli so go thinner than usual.
- If using a ravioli mould, dust well with rice flour and lay one sheet on top. Gently push the dough into the wells and then lightly roll over the pasta just to hold it in place, not to cut through at this stage.
- Place a mean tsp of filling in each well, lightly brush the edges with water and cover with a second sheet of pasta. Press to seal then roll heavily between each ravioli to fuse the pasta layers together and cut through the join. If you're lucky, tipping it upside down and tapping may free the pasta from their mould but if not, gently retrieve each little pasta dumpling and separate from it's neighbours. You may need to neaten up with a knife.
- Bring a very large pot of salted water to a boil and gently drop the pasta parcels in a few at a time - they will tumble to the bottom initially then rise to the top 2-3 minutes later when cooked and ready to go.
- Drain well then toss in the sauce which is steeping in a large bowl on the counter then serve with extra parmesan grated over.
- If you don't have a ravioli mould (and to be honest, they are a bit of a faff!) then simply lay the first pasta sheet on the work top then dollop out teaspoons of the filling spaced about 3 cm apart. Brush with water then lay over a second sheet, cupping your hand around each to try and get the air out and seal by pressing down with the side of your hand. Slice between them with a knife or pasta cutter and cook as above.