There is nothing quite magnificent like fresh homemade pasta. Its soft tender taste and texture are just so different than store-bought dry pasta that it should probably be named differently.
At the same time, since Guy's favorite thing to eat is pasta it's not rare to find the store-bought kind in our pantry; we are human after all. Still, every time we make the fresh-homemade kind we both agree that we have to do it more often.
Ravioli, on the other hand, is kept for very special occasions. It's the festive version of homemade pasta and takes more effort and time. The fun thing is you could always make a large batch and keep it handy in your freezer.
This ricotta-spinach filling version is our personal favorite, it's very light and a great dinner option for warm summer days. The cherry tomato sauce is the perfect fit but even if you just drizzle some high-quality olive oil and garnish with fresh oregano it will be delicious.
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Mix the durum flour and 00 flour together and place the flour mixture on a clean counter or in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the olive oil and half of the amount of water.
Start mixing the water and oil together with the flour, using a fork. Use your fingers and keep incorporating with the flour, a little at a time until your flour looks like breadcrumbs. You can also use a standing mixer or a food processor for this step.
Transfer the dough to the counter and knead together, adding more water if needed (don't get tempted to add more then what the recipe calls for). After about 10 minutes of hard work, you'll get a smooth and elastic lump of dough.
Cut the dough in half (or more, in case you're making a larger batch) and wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta-spinach filling (see instructions below).
Clamp your pasta machine to a clear and clean work surface, make sure it's clamped firmly and set it at its widest setting.
Dust your work surface with 00 flour, take one piece of dough and press it flat, using a rolling pin if needed. Roll the dough through the machine and dust with flour if sticky.
Move the machine on the next setting and roll the dough through again. Fold the dough in half, set back up to the widest setting and roll through again. Repeat this process a few times until your dough is smooth and silky. Believe me, it's worth it!
Now you can start rolling your dough through from the widest down to almost the narrowest setting. Since we're making ravioli, we want to get the dough very thin, usually one stop before the last. On my machine, I roll up to number 8 (out of 9). You'll know when to stop when you can clearly see your hands through the dough. If at any point your dough is looking a little cracked or not smooth enough, you can always fold it over and move back a setting before moving forward.
Don't have a pasta machine? don't worry! You can create amazing pasta with a good rolling pin and strong arms. Rolling smaller pieces of dough and not one big lump should help you with the process.
Once you rolled your pasta you need to shape it right away to keep it from drying up. Therefore, first, shape your ravioli and only then move to roll your next piece of dough.
Lay the pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface. On the bottom part of the pasta sheet, place the ricotta filling (about one teaspoon is enough) an inch apart (~2.5 cm).
Fold the top part of the pasta sheet on top of the bottom part with the filling. Use your fingers to seal the pasta on the sides and bottom, trying to remove as much air as possible.
Cut the ravioli using either a scalloped pasta wheel (my preferred method) or a ravioli stamp cutter. If using the scalloped wheel, cut the bottom part of the long pasta sheet first, removing the excess dough, and then cut the ravioli in between.
Repeat with the remaining pasta dough and filling, arranging the ravioli side by side, not overlapping, on a floured surface or parchment paper.
Boil a large pot of water with 1 tbsp of salt.
Cook the ravioli for just a few minutes, until they float. Use a pasta spoon (a server with wholes) to take out the cooked ravioli, one by one as they're ready. That way you will be able to use the water to cook more pasta or to make the sauce.
In case you don't intend to cook the ravioli right away, you could freeze them for up to 3 months. To do so, make sure to arrange them side by side in an airtight container, separating each layer of ravioli with parchment paper to keep them from sticking to each other.
Season with cherry tomato sauce and garnish with drizzled olive oil and fresh oregano.
Mix with the chopped spinach and refrigerate until you're ready to fill your ravioli.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
Add the cherry tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat and cover the pan. Cook for additional 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes and adding water if needed (up to 0.25 cup water total, preferably the pasta cooking water) until the tomatoes are softened and the sauce has thickened.