A dish to impress and good fun to make if you have a bit of time to spare - the ravioli can be frozen until you are ready to cook and serve them. I have used a creamy dill sauce, but you can make a lighter sauce, and serve the ravioli bathed in a light fish or chicken broth - very Italian!
(Makes about 36 - 42)
For the pasta
- 400g (14 oz) Italian 00 flour (or plain white flour)
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 3 egg yolks
For the Smoked Salmon filling
- 400g (14 oz) smoked salmon
- 2 medium eggs
- 200ml (7 fl oz) double cream
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives or chervil
For the creamy dill sauce
- 55g (2 oz) butter
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 4 tablespoons dry white wine or vermouth
- 250ml (8 fl oz) double cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- fresh lemon juice
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- toasted pine nuts, capers and a few currants, to serve
- Place the flour in a mound on a clean work surface. Use your fist to make a large well in the centre - a ring of flour to contain the eggs. Pour the 2 beaten eggs and 3 egg yolks into the well. Slowly pull and flick the flour into the eggs, mixing with your fingers until it is all incorporated. Once it has formed a rough ball, knead it briskly by hand (for about 5 minutes), until smooth and shiny. If it feels very soft at this stage, work in some more flour. If too dry, just add a tablespoon of water, but the dough should be firm, firmer than bread dough. Put into a plastic bag and leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. When rested, the dough will be softer and easier to roll out.
- Now make the filling. Put the smoked salmon and eggs into a food processor and blend until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the cream until the mixture thickens, then add the chopped chives or chervil, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well.
- Divide the pasta in half and roll out each half through a pasta roller as thin as you can - about setting number 6, depending on your machine. Do this by setting the rollers to the widest setting and winding your dough through. Adjust to the next setting and roll the dough through again, carrying on in this manner until you have stretched it about to about setting 6.
- Cut the pasta into manageable sheets, place on trays lined with lightly floured tea towels and cover with clingfilm to prevent it drying out.
- To assemble, dust a clean work surface with a little extra flour (semolina flour is useful here - being a coarser flour, it will fall off the ravioli when you cook it. Finer flours tend to stick and cook to a 'jelly' on the outside of the pasta). Lay out half the pasta sheets. Divide the smoked salmon filling into approximately 42 equal-sized portions (large teaspoons really!) and place each one 5 cm (2 inches) apart on the pasta sheets.
- Brush the pasta between the mounds of salmon with a little cold water. Cover with the remaining sheets of pasta, carefully making sure all the air is excluded around each mound as you press them closed. Cut the ravioli out using a pastry wheel or biscuit cutter. Cover and refrigerate or open-freeze, then pack into boxes between layers of freezer film, until you are ready to use.
- To make the sauce, fry the spring onions in the butter for 5 minutes, splash in the wine and reduce until almost dry. Pour in the cream, add the dill and simmer until slightly thickened. Season to taste with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the ravioli, and cook for about 3 minutes. Take 2-3 tablespoons of the cooking water and add to the sauce. (This helps season and stabilise the sauce as the cooking water contains starch and salt). Drain the ravioli well through a colander, return to the pan and add the sauce. Gently mix and warm through.
- Serve in warm bowls topped with toasted pine nuts, a few capers and currants.