Spinach & Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce
inspired by Pastaio
Yesterday I sat down and started writing a post about how different the second lockdown would be. Pubs have closed again, meaning Aidan would be back at home, but at least this time I would be working.
I think I managed about 300 words before the phone rang. Job has been put on hold. Right…
So this morning I’m trying again. Maybe the lockdown won’t be quite as different after all. But maybe in some ways that’s a good thing. This time we know what to expect.
To start with there will be no ridiculous lists of things I should try and achieve. No languages to learn, no skills to improve. I do not need to take up crochet or try my hand at watercolours.
No I’ve discovered all I need to get me through another month at home. And that is food.
I can also predict how my cooking habits will change over the next month. Aidan being at home will mean eating more meat for sure. It will also mean eating less pasta.
Don’t get me wrong, Aidan likes pasta. But he doesn’t have quite the same sort of love affair with it as I do. Pasta, for Aidan, is something to enjoy every now and again. Once a week perhaps.
For me I could literally eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I actually have on a couple of occasions.
But it’s not just us stuck at home that know how to lockdown now. Restaurants are ahead of the game this time too.
Whereas back in March it (understandably) took places a while to respond to the pandemic and work out how to adapt their businesses, now they are ready to go. Mainly because all those takeaways, restaurant kits and deli options never went away. Many restaurants will build these new revenue streams into their businesses long term. The way we eat has been permanently changed by this pandemic.
Pastaio, for example, offers a click and collect service and is also on Deliveroo. If you’re lucky enough to live near one of their sites (which sadly I don’t) you have been able to get delicious pasta delivered to your door. Fingers crossed they keep going during lockdown.
Pastaio is owned by Stevie Parle, a chef who is passionate about amazing pasta. He also owns Palatino, which does my favourite Cacio e Pepe, that sadly has still not reopened since March. If my fingers are already crossed that Pastaio can keep cooking during lockdown, then I’ll have to keep my toes crossed for Palatino to open their doors again before too long.
What I have also just discovered is that Stevie has an amazing collection of recipes on his website. I will definitely be giving some of those a try. But sadly not the recipe for what I’m cooking in honour of Pastaio.
“Squash Ravioli, Green Spinach Pasta, Butter & Fried Sage”
Scrolling back through their Instagram feed (because when I’m not eating pasta I am looking at it online) I knew I had to try making this as soon as I saw it.
I’ve made spinach pasta once before from a Jamie Oliver recipe. Spinach pici, which you make by blending fresh spinach and pasta flour in a food processor, before shaping by hand into long thin sausage shapes.
However this time I fancy making egg pasta. And I only have frozen spinach.
I let the spinach defrost and then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Into the food processor it goes and gets blitzed. That’s the idea anyway. Sadly my food processor blade is not as sharp as it should be (it’s been working hard these past few months) and so the spinach is not quite the puree I was after. It’s more of a pulpy mess, with the odd stem or bit of leaf still very much intact. I add the egg and blitz again. It’s a bit smoother, and as I often write on here, it will have to do.
In a bowl I combine the egg and spinach mix with pasta flour, salt and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s definitely a wetter mix than normal pasta dough which means one thing. It is very, very sticky.
I knead it as best I can, stopping at intervals to scrape green dough off the worktop and my hands. It does get smoother, but it’s definitely more speckled with green rather than a consistent green colour.
Into the fridge it goes to relax for a while. In the mean time I have some butternut squash roasting in the oven, drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper. Once that is soft I leave it to cool before mashing it and mixing with ricotta, fresh oregano and lots of black pepper.
Now for what I fear may be the tricky bit. Rolling out the dough.
It takes a few spins through the pasta machine before the dough starts to behave. To begin with it tears apart, revealing some larger than desired pieces of spinach within the dough. But eventually, as it get thinner, it becomes more easy to handle.
Usually I would take pasta dough down to the thinnest possible setting on my machine if I’m making ravioli, but I don’t risk it here. I hang my sheets of rather pretty green pasta over my oven door handles and get ready to start filling.
One sheet at a time I cut out circles of dough using a biscuit cutter. A teaspoon of filing goes in the centre of each one before I run my fingers around the edge of the pasta with some water and then press another pasta circle firmly on top.
Each finished ravioli goes onto a floured plate until I’m ready to cook.
I very nearly am as a sage butter sauce only takes minutes to make. Melt butter. Add sage. That’s it.
The pasta parcels go into salted boiling water for a couple of minutes and then I’m done.
I plate up and tuck in immediately. They are really delicious and I love the bright orange colour of the filling with the green pasta. It looks as good as it tastes.
What also looks too good to resist though is the pile of pasta dough scraps leftover from making the ravioli. Once I’ve eaten I absentmindedly start rolling the leftover dough into long, thin shapes.
Almost without realising I am making pici. A little heap of tempting looking pasta now in front of me.
I may not have eaten pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But in the end I did have two lunches. Ravioli followed by pici. Pasta following pasta.
Perhaps it’s a good think my pasta intake will be a little more limited over the next few weeks. It might be getting slightly out of control.