There are many versions of pasta stuffed with herbs and cheese, but this version was shared by Dante Laurenti, a long time friend and employee at Felidia restaurant. Dante hails from Parma in the region of Emilia Romagna, the source of unquestionably some of the best stuffed pasta in Italy.
- Basic Egg Pasta Dough
- For the Stuffing:
- 1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup minced leek white (from about 2 medium-size leeks)
- ½ cup minced scallions, including greens (about 6 scallions)
- 4 cups washed and chopped Swiss chard or spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese (or one 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese)
- 2/3 cup coarsely grated ricotta salata cheese, (about 2 ounces)
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Grana Padano cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 6 quarts salted water
- For the Sauce
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- 1/4 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
- 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the pasta dough.
In a small casserole, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the leek and scallion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Swiss chard and basil. Increase the level of heat to medium. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
In a bowl, combine the fresh ricotta, ricotta salata, mascarpone, 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and the parsley. Add the reserved greens and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the beaten egg and mix well.
Roll out and fill the pasta dough using a full tablespoon of the vegetable cheese filling for each ravioli. Using a ridged pastry wheel, cut the raviolacci into rectangles about 3 inches long by 2 ½ inches wide. Press the filling gently to fill the air spaces in each raviolacci and press the edges of the raviolacci firmly to seal them tightly. Arrange the raviolacci in a single layer on baking sheets lined with lightly floured kitchen towels. Cover them with additional towels. The raviolacci should be cooked immediately or refrigerated or frozen.
Heat 6 quarts of salted water to boiling. Add the raviolacci to the water one at a time, stirring gently as you do. Cook about 6 minutes after the water returns to a boil, or until the edges of the pasta are tender but still firm to the bite and they rise to the surface. Use a big skimmer or large flat slotted spoon to gently scoop out the raviolacci, draining them well. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt the butter over moderately high heat. Stir in the milk, cream, sage leaves and the reserved pasta water and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 3 minutes.
Pour half of the butter sauce into a second large skillet. Divide the cooked raviolacci between the skillets; stir them gently with a wooden spoon to coat. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup grated cheese over the raviolacci. Shake the pans until the sauce is lightly syrupy and coats the raviolacci. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warm serving platter or individual plates and serve.