I have known Lily since we went to high school together. She was the tall, glamorous dark haired Italian who I felt a strong connection to, even though we didn’t spend much time together when we were teenagers. We reconnected a few years ago via social media and we have explored our Italian heritage in the many fun things we have done since – from Italian film festival movies to book launches about italians migrating from Italy. Her mother came from Santa Barbara, near Trieste, and her father from Istria, like my father. Incredible that they travelled here on ships at different times, in search of new lives and that their youngest daughters, born only a few weeks apart, connected in distant Australia.
We had talked about cooking together for ages and last weekend she finally came over to make pasta. Lily had never made pasta from scratch and I looked forward to teaching her. To make food with a friend is such a joy – creating tasty beautiful food with love, sharing stories and laughing. Lily has been to Italy twice, in 1972 and in 1980. Whilst chatting we realised that coincidentally it was exactly at the same time that I was there! The other coincidence was that both our mothers had the same model of Imperia pasta making machine, in a funky 1970s box (mine is the tattered one on the left)!
Rather than making fettuccine, we decided on some simple ricotta and parsley ravioli. Lily watched me making the filling, not really measuring anything – which is the way my mother cooks – but the way hers did as well. We tasted the filling as we went along, adding lemon zest and nutmeg to give the filling a delightful lift. Rather than using a ravioli cutter, we cut the pasta sheets in half and then into rectangles to make square ravioli.
By now it was late afternoon – we’d been having such fun in the kitchen – about 3 hours worth. I put on some Italian tunes from the 1970s (Lucio Battisti) and we listened to him whilst we packed up and cooked a few ravioli to taste with a glass of wine. I made a simple burnt butter sauce with crispy sage leaves to go with the ravioli. It was delicate, light and perfect. A lovely way to end a cooking afternoon with my lovely paesana.
Ricotta and parsley ravioli
To make the pasta:
4 large eggs
400g 00 flour
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
For the filling:
350g fresh ricotta
1 large egg
75 – 100g parmigiano, grated
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
grated rind of one lemon
1/2 bunch fresh parsely, leaves picked and finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce:
100g unsalted butter
24 fresh sage leaves
grated parmigiano to serve
For instructions on making pasta, click here or here. Make the filling whilst the pasta dough is resting and before rolling it out. To make the filling, simply mix together all the ingredients using a fork until the mixture is homogeneous. Adjust for salt and add pepper if you like. As there is a lot of pasta in this recipe, you should roll out a quarter of the pasta at a time, keeping the remainder wrapped in cling wrap. Make one batch of ravioli as per the instructions and then repeat.
To make the ravioli, place a teaspoon of filling on one half of a rectangle of pasta (our rectangles were about 5cm by 10 cm). Dip a finger in water, wetting the pasta around the filling. Now close the rectangle of pasta like a book so that the filling is enclosed, pressing well around the edges so the raviolo is sealed and there is no air trapped in the filling. Dust the pasta lightly with flour and place on the bench under a tea towel so the pasta does not dry out. Repeat with remaining pasta and filling.
To cook, heat a large pot of salted water until boiling and cook the ravioli for 5 to 7 minutes, until cooked. Whilst they are cooking, make the burnt butter by heating up the butter in a medium sized frypan, until the butter melts and add the sage leaves. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to turn brown. Drain the ravioli and spoon on the burnt butter sauce, decorating with a few crispy sage leaves. Some grated parmigiano is lovely on top of this as well.
Here is a link to a fantastic Lucio Battisti song…what a legend he was.