Yesterday I decided to make my valentine a special dinner. We had some tasty rose chilling in the fridge, a chocolate fondu for pudding and… my very first home-made pasta, fashioned into little heart cushions, for the main. And… it was really tasty! I was very nervous about it all going epically wrong and in retrospect I think a pasta machine would have been very helpful in making the pasta dough a lot thinner (my ravioli was very thick and meaty) but it worked out well and was pretty fun to make (and scoff!)
For the Dough: *200g strong ‘OO’ white flour *pinch of salt *2 medium free-range eggs *1 tbsp olive oil For the Filling and Garlic Butter Sauce: *75g butter *50g shallots *3 garlic cloves *60g mushrooms *1/2 stick of celery *30g parmesan (plus loads extra to serve) *plain flour for dusting *1 egg *Salt and Pepper
1.Sift together the flour and salt into a pile on your worktop and make a well in the centre (make yours stronger than mine, as the wall broke!) Pour the eggs and oil into the well and with the fingers of one hand draw the flour to the well and eventually it will come together to form a dough. It’s quite wet and a bit tricky but will form a ball before you know it.
2. Knead the dough lightly on a floured service until it is smooth and consistent. Wrap in clingfilm and leave for about half an hour. According to the Recipe book I used (Big Book of Pasta) this makes the dough more elastic.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the veg. Very finely chop the shallots (I always like to joke at this point that “that’s your lot, ha ha ha…”, finely chop 1 clove of the garlic, the celery and the mushrooms.
4. Heat 25g of the butter in a frying pan, throw in your veg, season well, and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan.
5. Back to the dough: if you have a pasta-machine then you know what to do (and I don’t!) but on a floured service I just rolled it out as flat as I could and used my fingers to work it nice and thin. Using heart-shaped cookie cutters (that I think I bought from Japan Centre in Piccadilly Circus and are really cool) I pressed out lots and lots of hearts.
6. I added a teaspoon of the filling to the centre of half of these hearts, and then brushed the edges of the ravioli with a beaten egg. I squeezed another cut-out sheet of pasta onto the top and sealed the pillows tightly. This was a little tricky and took me a while but would get easier with practice I am sure.
7. I placed all of the prepared heart pillows on a floured tea towel and left them to stand for an hour. I got cracking on the Rose at this point!
8. Just before the hour was up I headed back to the kitchen. I made a salad to go with dinner (rocket, baby tomatoes, roasted peppers and roasted pine nuts in a balsamic mustard dressing) and chopped the other two cloves of garlic for the butter-sauce.
9. I then heated a boiled a big pan of salty water and cooked the pasta for about 3-4 minutes (if you had a pasta machine or had made the sheets very thin then I would reduce this to about 2 minutes so as not to over-cook the pasta) before lifting the hearts out of the pan with a slotted spoon and placing on a heated plate.
10. Whilst the pasta was bubbling, I added the remaining butter and finely chopped garlic with a buttload of pepper to the sauce pan and melted and simmered for about two minutes.
11. I poured the garlic butter over the pasta and grated plenty of parmesan on top. Viola!
So that was my first attempt. Eeek. The sauce and filling were very garlic-y but delicious and whilst I don’t think I’ll be causing Antonio Carluccio any sleepless nights just yet it was rewarding and exciting to make something so ubiquitous from scratch, for the first time.