Last week’s weather here in Budapest was not too nice. We had some cold and very cloudy days… the kind of days where you feel like staying under a blanket watching movies all day long. OK I spent a day like this once but then it got a bit boring for me and decided to do something else… I decided to surprise my darling husband and cook something special! Anyway, it was still Valentine’s week! 😍
Having been on a recent short trip home, I was able to have some delicious ricotta ravioli. In fact it is a must for me to savour some ravioli on every trip home. In Malta, we are lucky to find really delicious ravioli made locally and frozen. All you need to do is prepare a simple sauce, boil the ravioli and enjoy them with some grated cheese. In Malta, ravioli was a weekly item on our menu since they were very convenient to prepare after a long day at work and so delicious!
However, in Budapest, the standard for ravioli is quite low, possibly since they are not so popular. They are smaller in shape, not as tasty and you will not find any decent ones in most supermarkets.
Therefore, I decided to make my own ravioli from scratch. Since it was a spontaneous decision, I did not have enough ricotta at hand and opted to try a different filling. I had some sweet potatoes and thought they were great to transform them into a delicious filling. And it was definitely a great idea! 🙂
The sweet potatoes give a delicate taste to the thin pasta pockets. The sweetness here is balanced by the earthy flavour of thyme. A simple al olio sauce accompanied this ravioli dish and added an elegant touch to it. Of course, grating some cheese on top is a must! Go for an aged hard cheese, our favourite is a goats cheese which compliments well the sweet potatoes.
With the amounts below, I made quite a lot of ravioli… More than we could have eaten in one session. But worry not! They can be frozen on a tray dusted with semolina and once frozen, they can be transferred to a freezer bag or container. When ready to use, just transfer them directly from the freezer to a pot of boiling water and cook until they float (3-5 minutes).
I admit that they are not so easy to prepare and they are not something that I would do often, simply because they are time consuming to prep. But once in a (long) while they are definitely worth it! 🙂
For the dough
- 125g semolina
- 375g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 275g warm water
For the filling
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 5 tsp dried thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 8-10 tbsp olive oil
- Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes properly. Pat them dry and wrap them in aluminum foil separately. Place them on a baking tray/dish in a preheat oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 1-1.5 hours, until soft and mushy. Cooking time will depend on how large the sweet potatoes are.
- In a large bowl, mix together the semolina, flour and salt and gradually start by adding the water. Do not add all the water at once, you might not need all of it or you might also need another tablespoon of it. Knead the dough with your hands to form a ball. It should have a rough surface. Place it in a clean plastic bag or wrap it in cling film and leave it to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Once the dough is properly rested, it should have a smooth surface.
- Once the sweet potatoes are ready, cut them open and remove the skin (this should be very easy to remove). Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper and using a fork mush everything together. This should be like a thick paste in consistency. If it is too wet, add a tablespoon of semolina to the mixture to absorb any liquid. Set it aside to cool completely (Do not use warm filling on the dough as it might tear up).
- Divide the dough into smaller pieces. Flatten it and roll out the dough to a thickness of 2mm, rotating it every now and then to ensure it does not stick to the surface. (Leave the remaining dough covered in plastic so it does not dry out). I like to roll it out in a rectangular shape.
- Place teaspoons of the cooled filling along the length of one side of the dough, leaving some space in between. Wet the area around the filling with some water and fold the other side of the dough over to cover the filling. Press gently around the filling to seal completely and ensure that there is no air trapped inside. Trapped air will expand during cooking and will cause the ravioli to burst. Cut around in your desired shape with a wheel or cutter. Place the ravioli onto a dish/surface covered in semolina to avoid it from sticking. Repeat until all dough and filling is finished.
- To make the sauce: Place a large pan on high heat and make sure it is very hot. Add the olive oil, lower the heat and add the garlic, thyme and chili flakes.
- Bring a pot of salted water to rolling boil. Gently place the ravioli into the water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until they float. Drain them properly and then gently place them into the sauce for another 2 minutes until they absorb the flavour.
- Serve with some grated hard cheese and fresh thyme (if it is available to you).