A ray of sunlight hits my favourite spot in the Biblioteca Angelica as I get lost in a book. Looking at the endless bookshelves, browsing through the card index, respecting the rule of silence – everything about this place is life-enhancing. As I leave the library, thinking that my day couldn’t get any better, I see a pastificio. Making pasta by hand always makes me feel good. I like to experiment, so here basil-flavoured pasta meets a filling of ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes and anchovies. Free your imagination, lose yourself in eternity.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
100g (31/2oz) plain flour
1 egg, beaten
10 basil leaves, chopped, plus extra to serve
pinch of salt
70g (21/2oz) Parmesan or ricotta salata cheese, grated
4 anchovies in olive oil, drained
120g (41/2oz) ricotta cheese
10 sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 anchovies in olive oil, drained
200g (7oz) purple broccoli, roughly chopped
pinch of chilli flakes
150ml (1/4 pint) vegetable stock
50g (13/4oz) walnut pieces
For the filling, put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
For the sauce, gently heat the olive oil and the anchovies together in a frying pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the anchovies have dissolved. Add the broccoli pieces to the pan together with the chilli flakes, stock and half the walnut pieces, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until the broccoli pieces are tender and the liquid has reduced by a third.
Meanwhile, make the egg pasta dough. Place the flour on a large board or a clean, floured work surface. Make a well in the centre and put the beaten egg, chopped basil leaves and salt in it.
Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Knead the pieces of dough together until you have one big, smooth lump of dough, then divide it into two pieces.
Using a rolling pin, roll one dough portion out to a 2-mm (1/16-inch) thickness and into a 35-cm (14-inch) x 23-cm (9-inch) rectangle. Working quickly, place teaspoonfuls of filling 2.5cm (1 inch) apart over one half of the pasta sheet and brush lightly around the filling with water to moisten. Fold the sheet over and press down around the fillings to seal, then cut out the ravioli squares around the filling using a pastry wheel. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the ravioli and cook for 3 minutes, or until they float to the surface. As the ravioli are ready, scoop them up with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a large bowl along with half the broccoli sauce and a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. Once you have fished out all the ravioli, add the rest of the sauce, sprinkle over the grated Parmesan, remaining walnuts and a few extra basil leaves and serve.
As the Romans Do by Eleanora Galasso is available here.