The experience of eating fresh pasta with homegrown herbs and vegetables is well worth the effort, and won’t your dinner guests be impressed?
Who knew that making homemade pasta would be so much fun? I’ve always had such great admiration for cooks who prepare their own pasta, judging it to be a lot of effort.
In reality, all you need is flour, eggs and a pasta machine.
- 1 L (4 cups) whole-wheat flour, sifted and rough bran removed, or a 50/50 ratio of unbleached white flour to whole-wheat flour
- 6 eggs, beaten
- Make a well in the flour and, using a wooden spoon, slowly add the beaten eggs, gradually mixing in more flour until dough starts to form.
- Scoop the dough up with your fingers and knead into a smooth ball.
- Allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Then, follow the instructions on your pasta machine to roll out the ravioli.
Garden Tomato Sauce
In fall, at the peak of tomato harvest, I make batches of tomato sauce, keeping some handy in the fridge and freezing the remainder for winter eating. Defrosting a container of sauce in the morning means you can make a delicious dinner in 15 minutes flat. Adding garden vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, onions, carrots or bulb fennel makes a prize primavera sauce for pasta.
- 60 ml (1⁄4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) garlic, minced
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 12 fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) raw cane sugar
- 5 ml (1 tsp) fennel seeds
- 5 ml (1 tsp) black pepper
- 5 ml (1 tsp) sea salt
- 5 ml (1 tsp) dried chili pepper
- 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) fresh parsley, chopped
- 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) fresh basil, chopped
- Heat the oil and sizzle the garlic for a few minutes without browning.
- Add the bay leaves.
- Add tomatoes, sugar and the seasonings except for the fresh parsley and basil.
- Leave to simmer over low heat.
- Stir in the chopped parsley and basil at the end.
Filling the Ravioli
The fall garden is bursting with ingredients for a fabulous range of ravioli fillings. And, it is also wild mushroom season where you can find fresh chanterelles, as well as lobster and pine mushrooms. Here is the palette of ingredients I usually choose from when stuffing ravioli:
- Sweet marjoram
- Fromage frais
- Soft goat cheese
- Monterey Jack
- Chili pepper
Fabulous Filling Combos
- Broccoli florets with sauteed garlic, onions and cheddar.
- Salmon chunks with lemon zest, dill and ricotta cheese.
- Wild mushrooms with soft goat cheese and tarragon.
- Local soft unripened cheeses with steamed and drained garden greens such as kale, chard or spinach, seasoned with your choice of fresh herbs.
Why Every Cook Should Grow Perpetual Spinach
There’s nothing more frustrating than rows of spinach that bolt to seed as soon as the weather warms up. So, I grow perpetual spinach (Beta vulgaris var. cicia), which looks and tastes like spinach but is actually related to beets and chard.
The light texture of the leaf means it can be eaten raw in salads, as well as used any way you would use spinach (i.e. lasagna). My favourite way to enjoy it is lightly steamed.
Perpetual spinach is easy to grow from a direct sowing in late spring or fall, in sunny or part-sun locations.