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dinner italian pasta

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli in Sage Brown Butter

A taste of Tuscany – this ravioli is a tribute to simple ingredients used well.

On our first trip to Florence Italy, we took a public bus up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which sits up on a hill overlooking the rooftops of the city. It is magical. Beautiful. It was also February and breezy and we were freezing and needed to get INSIDE. Luckily, there is a restaurant up there, which had one of those big walled tents with heaters inside on their patio. Refuge!

Once inside, we ordered a couple glasses of wine and perused the menu for a small bite to eat. Normally we would go for a little appetizer, but the ravioli on that menu sounded so good when we were still trying to warm up. We ordered a plate of ravioli to share – and it was fantastic. The crispy sage. The warm brown butter. The delicate pasta. The creamy ricotta. It. was. heaven.

When we returned home to the states, I got to work on recreating that dish. I think this is a pretty darn good copycat – from what I can recall!

Try adding some chopped prosciutto to the filling, chopped walnuts to the butter, or both! A little variation is always fun.

Enjoy your little bite of Italy.

View from Piazzale Michelangelo

Filling:

  • 15 oz whole milk ricotta
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed very dry in a kitchen towel
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan

Ravioli dough

  • 2 c AP flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs + 1 for egg wash
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (more as needed)
  • 2-3 Tbsp water
  • Semolina for dusting

Brown Butter:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 8-10 sage leaves, washed and dried thoroughly, chopped or sliced, small leaves left whole

Instructions:

Combine flour and salt in stand mixer with dough hook attachment.  Add eggs one at a time, then alternate oil and water one Tbsp at a time until the dough forms a ball.  (You can go heavier on the oil than the water if you wish, I think I probably end up with a little more oil than water.)

On a floured surface, knead dough for about 10 minutes, until elastic and smooth.  Form into a ball and brush surface with oil.  Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

While the dough rests, make filling by mixing all ingredients and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Unwrap dough and cut in half, covering the half you aren’t using, to avoid drying out. Press dough into a rectangle on the counter and pass through a pasta roller on the widest setting, twice.  Laminate the dough by folding it in thirds, to roughly the width of the roller. Pass through twice again, the opposite direction, then repeat this process.  After laminating twice, begin running the dough through at progressively lower settings until you’ve reached the thinnest setting.  You want to almost be able to see through the dough.  Lay the pasta sheet on a dusting of semolina to prevent it from sticking to the counter, and cover.  Repeat with the other half of the dough. 

Beat one egg with about 1 Tbsp of water.  Drop the ricotta filling by the spoonful (about 1.5 – 2 Tbsp) onto one sheet of pasta, about 2” apart and leaving about 1” from the ends.  Brush the edges of the dough and in between the dots of filling with egg wash.  Lay the other sheet of pasta over the first sheet, and working from the center outward, press out any air around each mound of filling, sealing the pasta sheets with your fingers as you go.  Cut the ravioli apart with a sharp knife and trim excess. (or- use a ravioli cutter.)  Press edges of each raviolo with a fork to seal if desired.  If you were successful on pressing out all the air from each pocket, you shouldn’t have an issue with the ravioli exploding in the boiling water. 

Set the ravioli on a light dusting of semolina until ready to cook.

In a very large, wide, high sided skillet/sauté pan, bring salted water to a gentle boil.  Add as many ravioli as your pan size will permit without touching too much, and cook for about 3-5 minutes.  (Using a wide pan with a few inches of water provides more surface area for the ravioli, so they are less likely to stick together.  You may want to cook them in batches to not overcrowd the pan.)

While the ravioli boils, heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot.  Drop in softened butter – it will brown and foam immediately.  When the foam subsides, remove from heat and add sage.  (Make sure the sage is dry to avoid spitting.)  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Adding chopped walnuts with the sage is also lovely for texture.

Remove ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon or spider.  (Don’t dump into a colander – they are delicate!  You put so much effort in!  Treat them with care.)

Serve ravioli with a little sage butter sauce spooned over, leaving any darkened milk fats in the pan.  Finish with a touch of flaky salt, like Maldon, if you have it. 

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