I love marjoram and am always happy to find another way to use it. The ravioli in this recipe were simple to make and easy to shape and the marjoram added a nice touch of savory spice. I will be making this again.
I adapted a recipe from the cookbook Sicilia: The Cooking of Casa Planeta by Elisia Menduni. I really like this cookbook but it’s also a bit weird. It has a great and somewhat unusual selection of recipes that are often made with few ingredients and which are generally easy to make. But it also seems like it was tossed together and that many of the recipes may not have been tested. Things are written funny or missing altogether. In this recipe, for example, there are eggs included in the ingredient list for the filling but the eggs didn’t make it into the instructions.
However, its chaos is charming too. It’s like reading the notes jotted down by someone’s grandmother, which is pretty much what it is. Planeta is a Sicilian family that makes wine in a number of wineries across the Italian island and the recipes are the Planeta family recipes. They read like family recipes and are great like you would expect from a Sicilian family, but you do have to interpret some of them. Grandma left some pieces out.
I’ve started making fresh pasta more often lately. I mostly stopped when I moved to Italy as it’s so easy and cheap to buy here. They even have specialty stores that only sell fresh pasta. But I enjoy making it and find it relaxing. It’s a peaceful way to while away a leisurely Sunday afternoon.
As Planeta owns a collection of wineries, the cookbook also includes wine pairings. This dish was paired with my favorite Planeta wine, Cometa Sicilia Menfi DOC which is 100% Fiano, one of Italy’s oldest grape varieties. According to Ian D’Agata in his book the Native Wine Grapes of Italy, “Fiano may well be Italy’s greatest native white grape: only Verdicchio can lay a similar claim…” Bold words. Cometa has an unusual aroma and taste for a Fiano and I highly recommend it. The winery notes aromas of broom flower, thyme, chamomile, hay, mango, and pomelo, along with flavors of ripe apricots, almond blossom, and basil leaf. I’ve smelt lychee in it before too.
Ravioli with ricotta and marjoram
Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Sicilia: The Cooking of Casa Planeta by Elisia Menduni.
Serves 2 to 3 (makes approximately 40 ravioli)
For the ravioli
- 250 grams (1 1/2 cups) semolina
- 2 eggs (lightly beaten) for the pasta + 2 yolks for the filling
- 600 grams (1 1/4 cups) sheep’s milk ricotta, strained
- 1 sprig of fresh marjoram, chopped
- 1 small can (about 14.5 ounce) of whole tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- A pinch of red pepper chili flakes
- 2-3 oil-packed anchovy fillets
- Black pepper
Make the ravioli
- Mix together the ricotta and marjoram and season with salt and pepper, and then mix in 2 egg yolks.
- Shape the semolina into a mound on a large wooden cutting board or countertop with a round hole in the center. It should look like a low wide volcano.
- Carefully pour the 2 lightly beaten egg yolks into the center of the volcano and use a fork to slowly incorporate the flour until you have a messy dough.
- Push the sides of the volcano in and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Cover the dough with a dishtowel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into thirds and pass it through a pasta machine starting at the widest opening. Pass it through the widest opening 5 or 6 times and then twice through the progressively smaller openings. My pasta machine has 9 openings and I stopped after passing it through number 7 which means that the dough was not too thin.
- Use a glass to cut circles from the dough. I used a Roman beer pint that was 3 inches in diameter. Fill each round with a small spoonful of filling in the center. Place a tiny bit of water with your fingertip on the edge of one half and then fold the circle in half to make a mezzaluna or half-moon shape and press closed. Make sure to squeeze any extra air out. Use the tines of a fork to press the closure and further seal and create a pattern along the sealed edge.
- In a large frying pan or heavy-bottomed pot, cook the anchovies in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of red pepper chili flakes and the crushed garlic until the garlic is golden and the anchovies dissolve. You can remove the garlic, or leave it in.
- Add the can of whole tomatoes, using a spoon to break the tomatoes up, and cook until the sauce is thick and shiny.
- Cook the ravioli in a large pot of salted boiling water. When they float, carefully move them to the pan with the tomatoes and gently toss them to coat them in tomato. Add a small amount of pasta water and briefly cook over high heat while tossing.
- Plate and serve.