This is a sumptuously indulgent dish, bursting with rich
Italian flavours. Making your own pasta might seem like a big, unnecessary
headache, but believe me, once you get the hang of it, it’s great fun and it’s
guaranteed to impress. Although it sounds really fancy, it’s actually a very
simple process. A pasta machine will make the whole thing much quicker and
easier, and you can pick one up for as little as £20 (check out the Kitchen Bits & Bobs page for more info), but you can also roll it out with a
rolling pin – just make sure you keep going until the pasta is really nice and
thin, ideally about 2mm.
A big handful of cherry tomatoes
A handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 handful of grated cheddar
A couple of tablespoons of butter
A handful of fresh basil leaves
A handful of grated parmesan
Start out by making the pasta dough – get a large
casserole dish or bowl, and pour in the flour, then make a well in the centre
and add the eggs and egg yolks. Using a fork, break up the eggs and mix with
the flour until it starts to come together, then discard the fork and with your
(well-scrubbed) hands, knead the mixture until you end up with one solid ball.
On the counter top, roll and knead the dough until it’s smooth and silky and
slightly elastic – give it some proper elbow grease; the muscles along the
underside of your forearms should be aching by the time you’re done! Wrap the
ball of dough up in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to rest for an hour or
When you’re ready, make the filling – tear up the
mozzarella, chop the cherry tomatoes into quarters, and mix in a bowl with the
grated cheddar and the chopped fresh basil. Season with salt and black pepper.
Next, start rolling out the dough – separate the ball
into five pieces, and wrap up the others while you roll the first one. If you’re
using a pasta machine like mine, which has seven thickness settings, start at
five and work your way downwards – first flatten the dough between your palms,
then run it through the machine, fold it in half, and run it through again. Repeat
this process for each setting – folding and rolling again makes sure that you
get a nice even texture. If it’s getting stuck, flour it on each side. If holes
are appearing in the dough, then you’re rolling it too thin too soon – try going
back a setting.
If you’re using a rolling pin, scrub, dry, and flour a
large countertop, then roll out the dough. Alternate between rolling it and
stretching it out with your fingers – try to get it as thin as possible.
Once you’ve got one thin sheet, use a glass to cut out
circles of pasta. Place a spoonful of filling in the centre and wet the edges
of the circle, then place another circle on top and stretch the edges so that
they match up. Use a fork to press the edges together so that you end up with a
nice stripy pattern all the way around.
Flour a plate and put the ravioli on that. Continue
rolling out the dough, one lump at a time, and as you make more ravioli,
sprinkle them with flour so that they don’t stick together. Once you run out of
pasta dough, if you’re not ready to eat, pop the ravioli in the fridge.
When you’re ready, fill a saucepan with boiling water and
add the ravioli once the water comes back to the boil. Set a timer for five
While the pasta cooks, prepare your pesto butter – soften
the butter a little in the microwave (no more than 30 seconds), then crush the
garlic, finely chop the basil, grate the parmesan and mix it all together.
Season with black pepper.
Test whether the pasta is done by scooping out one
ravioli and cutting off a little piece of the border – this is the thickest
part so if it’s cooked, the rest will be too. Drain the ravioli, then return to
the pan, spoon in the pesto butter, and stir gently until it melts and coats
the ravioli. Serve up a steamy, fragrant plateful and grate over a little
cheddar or parmesan – delicious.