Chef Alex’s Herb-Printed Ricotta and Fresh Spinach Ravioli

Alex takes a break from competing on “MasterChef Junior” to bring his skills to Katie’s kitchen with this delicious recipe!

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Ingredients

For the pasta:

  • 3 cups flour, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • water as needed
  • Assorted fresh herbs such as sage, basil, tarragon, flat leaf parsley, oregano, etc.(nothing dried)

For the filling:

  • 12 oz fresh spinach leaves, washed
  • 1 cup fresh whole milk ricotta cheese (as little liquid as possible)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

For the sage butter sauce

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 6 sage leaves, chiffonaded
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • minced shallots

For the tomato & basil salad

  • 10 oz sliced baby heirloom tomatoes (colors: red, green, orange, yellow)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large fresh basil leaves chiffonaded
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. On a clean wooden board or wooden counter, toss the flour and salt together. Using your fingers, make a well in the center, large enough for the eggs and oil to fit into. Lightly beat the eggs and olive oil together in a separate bowl, then pour into the well. Slowly incorporating with a fork, carefully take some of the flour and beat it into the eggs. As the dough becomes thicker, and less liquidy, incorporate the rest of the flour faster.

2. Once the mixture has formed a consistency where you can use your hands to incorporate the rest, do so. As the dough comes together and forms a ball, knead the dough for approximately 10-12 minutes by hand or until smooth and elastic.

3. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes in plastic wrap left at room temperature If you would prefer, place the dough into a stand mixer attached with the dough hook, and on medium low speed, mix for about 7-8 minutes, checking the consistency every once in awhile. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes in plastic wrap for 30 minutes at room temperature.

4. In a large pan over medium low heat, add all of the spinach and cover with a lid. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, stirring it around time to time.

5. Drain the spinach, pressing out as much liquid as possible, then finely chop and set aside.

6. In a large mixing bowl, add your ricotta cheese, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, spinach, and salt and pepper, mix everything together. Keep in the refrigerator until needed.

7. Cut the pasta dough into quarters. Using one piece at a time, flatten into a disk and using a pasta machine, roll on the widest setting twice. Then move onto the next setting after that, rolling the sheet of pasta twice after every setting change.

8. Once you are at the third to last setting, lay your sheet of pasta on your board and on HALF of the sheet of pasta, firmly place the assorted herbs, making sure to fill almost all of the spaces. Take the other half of the sheet of pasta and fold it on top of the herbs, pressing down to seal.

9. Backtrack 2 settings on your pasta machine and roll the pasta with the herbs in it slowly. After a couple of rolls, you should start to see the herbs through the pasta. Go down one more setting and roll only once, as if you continue any more, the herbs will rip through the pasta. If the pasta does rip slightly, stop rolling and try to cover up the hole with the pasta again. Repeat this process for the rest of the pieces of pasta.

10. Using a ravioli stencil tray, lay a sheet of the herb printed pasta on top. Cut the extra pasta away, keeping the extra if it can fit another whole length of the tray. Push the sheet of pasta into the holes. Spoon or pipe the filling into the holes just until it is level with the tray. Brush everywhere but where the filling is with water.

11. Place another sheet of pasta on top, cutting away the extra and saving if necessary. Using a rolling pin, roll the ravioli until the pasta is cut fully, and they are all divided. Knock them out of the stencil and repeat process with the rest of the pasta. You can do this by hand as well. Leave the ravioli to dry for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

12. Slice tomatoes in half, toss with olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Marinate for 20-25 minutes in the refrigerator or until needed.

13. Cook the ravioli: In boiling salted water, poach the ravioli in batches of 4-8 at a time for 2-3 minutes or until they float up to the surface of the water.

14. In a large pan over medium high heat, add the butter, sage, salt and pepper and melt together. Add the ravioli in batches of 8 and toss in the sauce for a minute.

15. Serve warm with the tomato salad, fried sage, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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