Ravioli a la Greve
Heading south from Florence on Via Chiantigiana, or SR 222, you will be driving through the heart of the Chianti wine region. It is a very scenic route, winding through vineyards and olive groves with numerous ancient hilltop castles and churches along the way.
Greve is the market town on this road, as it has been since the 13th century. Piazza Matteotti, the towns main square, is a triangle lined with pretty portico housing some wonderful shops and restaurants. One butcher, the Antica Macelleria Falorni has been selling meat from this storefront since 1729. Even more than the salami, this kind of history really makes my knees tremble.
Saturday is still market day in Greve, and the entire piazza fills with vendors selling household items, clothing, leather goods, and lots of food. We snacked on some amazing porchetta, and picked up some fresh ravioli for dinner that night.
I also purchased a shiny new ravioli mold, so I could make perfect little filled pasta at home.
Here is my recipe for homemade ravioli filled with three cheeses and spinach served with sage butter, Ravioli a la Greve.
Spinach and Cheese Filling
- 250 grams fresh spinach, tough stems removed
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 leaves fresh basil
- 200 grams soft goat cheese
- 200 grams ricotta cheese
- 100 grams grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 large egg yolk
- 6 gratings of fresh nutmeg
- zest of half a lemon
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat, add garlic and stir until just fragrant, only a moment or two. Add the spinach and toss with tongs until wilted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a colander to cool. Over the sink, press down hard on the spinach to remove the excess liquid. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board, add the basil, and very finely chop the mixture. You could also do this in a food processor. In a medium bowl combine cheeses, seasonings and yolk until everything is evenly distributed, then stir in the spinach and garlic. The filling is ready to be stuffed.
2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- pinch of salt
Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, and mix on low speed until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic cling film and let rest for 30 minutes before proceeding. Divide the dough into thirds. Using a pasta machine set at its widest opening, roll the dough through about five or six times, folding it over on to itself a couple of times, until it becomes smooth and silky. Continue passing the dough though the rollers, gradually narrowing the setting until you have sheets of pasta which are almost opaque. On my machine this was the second narrowest setting available.
You will have to cut the sheets into shorter, more manageable lengths as you go. I have found that about 24 inches is as long as I can comfortably manage, and my ravioli mold is 12 inches long, so it works out pretty well. Continue to roll out the dough, allowing the finished sheets to dry out a bit on a well floured surface. Don't let them get crispy, the pasta needs to be pliable, but it is important to let the sheets dry out a bit before proceeding.
Once your sheets of pasta are ready to be filled, flour your mold liberally! First time I used my ravioli mold, I omitted this critical step. The pasta stuck, I was not amused. Lots of flour on the mold combined with letting the pasta dry a bit results in easy ravioli release. Trim your sheets of pasta into 12 inch lengths, to roughly fit the ravioli mold. Lay one sheet of pasta over the mold and fill each cavity with about a teaspoon of the filling mixture. Brush the pasta around the filling with a bit of water, and cover with a second sheet of dough trying to avoid trapping a bunch of air bubbles as you go. I found that by laying the sheets across the width rather than down the length of the rectangle I got fewer bubbles. With a rolling pin, roll along the length of ravioli mold, pressing the top sheet of pasta to the bottom and trimming the edges in one swift move. Just flip the mold over and you have a dozen perfect little ravioli. This recipe makes about 4 dozen ravioli.
To serve, bring a big pot of well salted water to a rolling boil, add the pasta a few at a a time and cook for about 3-5 minutes until just tender. I serve about 6 ravioli per person, as a starter. In a separate saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add 8-10 fresh sage leaves per person, sautee only briefly before adding cooked ravioli to sage butter. Add a splash of pasta water to pan add toss to coat the ravioli. Finish with a generous grating of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano.
Locally, you can pick up a ravioli mold of your very own at The Italian Market.
I consulted with the resident wine guy, Chris Makin, and he offered the perfect pairing from the Veneto, Pieropan Soave Classico. Available locally at select NSLC locations and The Port of Wines.
"Made from a blend of Garganega (85%) and Trebbiano di Soave (15%), and grown in the preferred higher elevation of the ' Classico DOC ' region, this Soave offers notes of lemon and fresh herbs with mild nutty & floral undertones. An easy-drinking style that shows mild acidity and a soft tartness that does not overpower the light butter sauce and compliments the vegetal filling."
There is nothing more satisfying than a plate of homemade pasta with a glass of wine, after all, generations of Italians can't be wrong.