Ravioli alla Ricotta e Spinaci con Pomodorini Heirloom e Burrata
Find your "Fiesole Moments" - Trova i tuoi 'Momenti di Fiesole'
When I was a grad student in Florence, I had a babysitting job where I would play with a toddler and her infant sister twice a week and speak English to them to familiarize them with English sounds and vocabulary. They lived in a villa on the hillside leading up to Fiesole, a quaint hilltop town with a rich history and a thriving monthly market that you can reach on the #7 bus. And when I say villa, I mean it had big "Under the Tuscan Sun" vibes. It was perfectly nestled on the side of the hill overlooking the city below, poised just so that the setting evening sun would cast a golden glow through cypress trees and bathe us in warmth while we sang nursery rhymes. You're so lucky to live here... You have no idea how lucky you are... I would say to the bambine.
My walk to their villa was one of my favorite rituals. In rain or shine, I looked forward to this biweekly journey with anticipation. The bus ride up the twisty road was a cheap thrill as the drivers would careen around the turns with reckless abandon. Once at the top of the hill, I would pile out with the rest of the people reaching the end of the line into the main piazza of Fiesole. Teenagers would be kicking around a soccer ball, and adults would be finishing their work days with a lovely aperitivo with a view of the Duomo below. And I would begin my downhill journey through narrow side streets lined with magnificent gated houses and wild plants and ivy climbing up stone walls. I almost preferred the walk when there was a light drizzle because the rain would create a cloudy mist over the valley and the trickle of the raindrop rivulets making their way down the hill created a magical soundtrack to my stroll. Sometimes I would take an earlier bus than necessary so that I could perch myself on a wall that overlooked olive groves and sit meditatively for a while, just taking in my extraordinary fortune at having this life.
I often feel like gratitude is something we have to remind ourselves to feel. I have so much to be thankful for. Don't forget to count your blessings. And it's true especially now, when everything is so monotonous and we're all contained within the same four walls every day, when there's no novelty to anything and the end may be in sight - but when, when? It can feel like a chore or disingenuous to say that we feel grateful when we are all hanging on by a frayed thread. So my hope for myself and for all of you is to have a Fiesole moment sometime in the next year. A moment when you are so overcome with the beauty of the world that gratitude just washes over you as you stand with your two feet planted on the ground, marveling at the wonder you feel. I hope we get to travel again, to our homes away from home and to new destinations we have yet to explore. Fiesole moments can be few and far between, but they are worth searching for, and it is worth reminding ourselves of their existence so that we have fuel to keep us going until we can find them again.
Tips for this recipe:
While the pasta dough is resting in the fridge, make the filling
While the water is boiling for the ravioli, make the (very simple) Heirloom cherry tomato sauce so that it's hot when the ravioli finish cooking
The burrata should be at room temperature so that it doesn't make the ravioli cold when you plate it, so take that out of the fridge when you start making the dough.
La pasta - the pasta
Gli ingredienti - the ingredients
farina ~ flour - 3 cups
sale ~ salt - a big pinch
uova ~ eggs - 3
olio extra vergine d'oliva - extra virgin olive oil - 1 1/4 teaspoons
acqua tiepida - lukewarm water - 1 1/5 teaspoons
Step 1. Whisk the flour and salt together in a bowl. Pour the flour mixture onto a clean workspace and make a well in the center of the flour into which you will crack your eggs. The wall of the well should be high enough that the eggs do not run over the edge.
Step 2. Crack your eggs into the center of the well. Add the olive oil and water to the center as well. Begin to incorporate the eggs into the flour by beating the eggs gently with a fork, adding flour from around the edges to the wet mixture little by little. If your dough is too dry, add a little bit more water. If your dough is too wet, add a bit more flour.
Step 3. Knead the dough for a good five minutes - you want to activate the gluten in the flour. Shape the kneaded dough into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour.
Step 4. You will want to roll your dough out into long sheets onto which you will place your filling. The dough should be very thin - about as thin as you can get it with a rolling pin without tearing.
*If you have a pasta attachment for your stand mixer, use it here. A KitchenAid pasta attachment has different numbers of thickness for the sheets of pasta - you will want to gradually adjust yours until the #5 setting for ravioli.
*You will need an even number of pasta sheets.
Now your pasta is ready for the filling, which I will explain how to make below.
Il rimpieno - the filling
This makes more filling than you will probably need but works with these measurements
Gli ingredienti - the ingredients
ricotta ~ ricotta - 1 cup
spinaci ~ spinach - 1 1/2 heaping cups
uovo ~ egg - 1
parmigiano grattugiato ~ grated Parmesan - 1 cup
noce moscata ~ nutmeg - 1/2 teaspoon
sale ~ salt - to taste
pepe ~ pepper - to taste
Step 1. Blanch the spinach in boiling water for just under a minute - then drain and run cold water over it to stop it from cooking more.
Step 2. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl - that's it!
Step 1. Spread an egg wash over one sheet of pasta and cut into equal sized squares. Put a small mound of the filling onto each square. Be careful not to put too much because you need the top layer of pasta and bottom layer to form a tight seal around the filling.
Step 2. Place the top layer on top the bottom layer and press firmly down around all sides of the filling, pressing out any air pockets.
Step 3. Once you have used up all of your pasta dough, your ravioli are ready to cook. Place them carefully into boiling salted water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain and serve.
Il sugo - the sauce
Gli ingredienti - the ingredients
cipolla gialla ~ yellow onion - 1 small, diced
pomodorini Heirloom ~ heirloom cherry tomatoes - 1 quart (you can really use any kind of cherry tomatoes, but I used heirloom ones for the colors)
olio extra vergine d'oliva ~ extra virgin olive oil - 2 tablespoons
sale ~ salt - a pinch
burrata ~ burrata - 1-2
Step 1. Sauté the diced onion in the hot olive oil.
Step 2. Once the onion is transparent, add the tomatoes and salt. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Step 3. Smash the tomatoes with the back of a spoon and let them simmer in their juices for a couple minutes more.
Step 4. Plate the ravioli, tomatoes, and burrata in a bowl and serve!