Ravioli à la Niçoise

Beef and Spinach Ravioli

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • For

    80

    people (about ravioli)

Appears in

The Cuisine of the Sun

By Mireille Johnston

Published 1990

  • About

Inspired by the dish Marco Polo brought back from China, raïoles have been a traditional treat in Provence for centuries. The little squares of dough can be filled with beef, veal, ham, lamb’s brains, pumpkin, and rice. The Niçois version is truly superb—it is as light as it is fragrant. The secret here is the savory combination of boeuf à la niçoise (with its wine and orange flavor) and spinach.

This is not a quick dish to prepare, but it is well worth the time. Frozen spinach and a pasta machine are great helpers. The boeuf à la niçoise must be prepared a day ahead, then chopped for the ravioli.

So with recipe in hand and a little time, you can now produce a most wonderful dish.

Ingredients

Filling

  • ¾ pound beef stew (Boeuf à la Niçoise)
  • ½ cup lean salt pork
  • 2 10-ounce boxes frozen spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup freshly grated cheese
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Pasta

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons water (or more as needed)
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Method

Prepare the beef stew, then dice the beef. Reserve the stew sauce. Chop the salt pork. Blanch and drain the spinach; squeeze it dry and chop. Grate the onion.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet and add the salt pork and onion. Cook for 5 minutes. Place the beef, spinach, onion, and salt pork in a blender in three batches until it becomes a paste. Or chop them on a board as finely as you can. Pour into a large bowl and add the garlic, nutmeg, eggs, cheese, thyme, salt, and pepper. Check the seasoning and stir well. You should have a smooth and fairly dry mixture.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the olive oil, eggs, water, and salt. Mix with a fork until all the flour is absorbed, adding another tablespoon of water if necessary. Knead for about 10 minutes, either in the bowl or on a floured table or counter, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Form a ball of dough, place it in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and let it rest for 1 hour.

Put your pasta machine on the table or counter and flour it. Divide the dough into 4 balls the size of small apples. Roll each ball through No. 1, then 3, then 5, then 7. Reach underneath and pull out the thin strip as it is being rolled. If allowed to pile up under the machine it will stick together. Lay the paper-thin sheets of dough on a floured tray or table to dry for about 10 minutes.

If you do not have a pasta machine, roll each small ball of dough on a floured board as thinly as you can. Let the sheets rest for 10 minutes. (Left longer they will become difficult to work with.)

Filling the Ravioli

Place a sheet of dough on a floured surface. Put a teaspoon of filling every 2 inches along the entire sheet, making two long rows. Place another sheet of dough on top of the mounds and carefully press around each little heap with your fingers, sealing the two layers together. With a pastry wheel cut around each heap so that you have neat little squares that look like plump cushions. If the pasta strips have become too dry to adhere to one another, dip the pastry wheel into warm water and work them together. When all the squares are cut, sprinkle them with a little flour and allow them to rest for 1 hour before cooking.

To Serve

Bring a large kettle of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Lower the flame and gently slide the ravioli in. Simmer them gently for 5 to 10 minutes. When they rise to the surface they are ready. Take them out with a slotted spoon and drain them in a colander.

Arrange the ravioli in a warm dish, alternating layers of ravioli with a layer of warm beef stew sauce or grated cheese and olive oil (or sauce aux noix).

Variation

If you have roasted a chicken or leg of lamb, deglaze the pan with a little white wine while scraping the bottom of the pan. Use this sauce with the ravioli, which can accompany the chicken or lamb.