This pasta dish never fails to impress. Once the ravioli is cut open, the sunshine yellow yolk oozes out and runs into the garlicky tomato sauce and mixes with the spinach filling. It makes the ideal luxurious lunch or special starter as part of a blowout supper. The best thing is that there’s no need to make a separate recipe for any vegetarian guests, as this is as much a crowd pleaser with carnivores as with their herbivore friends.
Packed full of flavour, with layers of texture and enticing colours, this is comfort food at its most stylish. I have even successfully served this to people who are usually a bit iffy about eggs. Imagine! Eggs are always in constant and bountiful supply in my kitchen. Their versatility absolutely demands it, from the classic breakfast of bacon and eggs to the frittatas, omelettes and quiches of lunchtime. Sunday lunch might not immediately scream eggs at you, but it would be an abomination to dish up roast beef without Yorkshire puds to go with it. And that’s before we even get onto cakes, bakes and the queen of the pouring jug: custard. So get your eggs in and get your “00” flour out.
Fresh pasta isn’t complicated to make. You can make the dough by hand or bung everything in a food processor. If you don’t have a pasta machine, just get stuck in with a good old-fashioned rolling pin. Of course, homemade is always best, but if time isn’t on your side, pick up a packet of fresh lasagne from the supermarket and use that instead.
Egg Yolk Ravioli
Or “raviolo” if you want to be picky…
For the pasta
200g Tipo“00” flour
2 large eggs or 4 egg yolks
For the filling
A large knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
250g spinach, washed thoroughly
Salt and pepper
A suspicion of nutmeg
50g grated Parmesan (or vegetarian hard cheese if serving veggie guests)
1 egg white
6 medium egg yolks
For the tomato sauce
4 cloves of garlic
A good glug of olive oil
Salt and pepper
A pinch of sugar
A splash of milk
Plus 1 egg white for brushing
To make the pasta, sift the flour in a large bowl or in a mound on the work surface. Make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Beat the eggs with a fork and work the edges of the flour in before swapping the fork for your fingers. Once everything is combined, tip the mixture onto the work surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Wrap the pasta in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, make the filling. Soften the onions and garlic in the butter in a large pan before adding the spinach. Wilt the spinach down, season and add a grating of nutmeg. Leave to cook until almost all moisture has cooked off, otherwise your pasta will be soggy. Transfer the spinach into a cold dish and stir in the Parmesan and egg white. Leave to cool completely.
Next, make the tomato sauce. Roughly chop the garlic and add to a generous glug of olive oil. Heat until the oil is fragrant, but be careful not to burn the garlic. Fish the garlic out of the oil and stir the passata into the oil. Season generously and add a pinch of sugar. Taste and adjust accordingly. Stir in the milk just to soften the flavours and turn the heat off. This can be reheated later.
For the pasta, dust the work surface with flour. Cut the dough in half and wrap one half in cling film. Press the other piece with your hand to flatten it. Pass it through the pasta machine at its widest setting, refolding and rolling a few times. Now take it down a notch and pass it through again. Keep passing the dough through the machine, reducing the setting each time, until you have a long, smooth and shiny sheet of pasta. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Spoon the spinach filling at intervals on one length of pasta and press a dent in the top of each to provide a nest for the egg yolks. You should have 6 spinach nests.
Carefully place an egg yolk on top of each nest. You can cut the pasta into squares before you begin if you prefer.
Brush some beaten egg white around the spinach nests before laying the second sheet of pasta over the top. Cup your hands around each egg nest, carefully gluing the top sheet of pasta to the base sheet, while expelling as much air as possible.
Use a large cutter to cut out each ravioli.
Place each ravioli in a very large pan of very salty boiling water for a couple of minutes or until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a piece of kitchen towel briefly to soak up excess water. Place a single ravioli on a ladleful of the reheated tomato sauce and drizzle with olive oil. Crack over some black pepper and serve.