Whenever I see my mum I always beg her to make me Maltese ravioli. I’m half Maltese and ravioli has to be one of my all time favourite dishes. It’s something about the simple flavours – pasta, ricotta and parsley with the tomato sauce. No spicing, not a lot of herbs, just wonderfully simple food that lets the fresh flavours do the talking.
Until recently I’d never tried making it. I’d watch my mum’s incredible skill honed over 55 years of making ravioli and wondered – “am I worthy”. Well it appears I am and you can be too. The Maltese style of making ravioli is very simple and can easily be made without cutters or other equipment.
All you need to make the ravioli is a rolling pin, your hands, a glass, fork and sense of adventure – that is it!
The Maltese Ravioli dough
My mum’s dough is just flour and water. Other recipes use semolina and egg, which isn’t vegan, so mum’s is perfect. The key to mum’s dough is it’s soft and pillowyness. According to mum overkneading is an absolute no-no. So it is essential the ratio of flour to water is achieved early on so the dough is not sticky but is also soft. This takes a bit of patience and care.
The key thing to remember is that you can add more flour to the dough if it is too sticky, but you can never add more water if the dough is dry.
I’ve veganized the ricotta filling using tofu and a few seasonings. Adding some cashews mimics the fattiness of ricotta. However they are totally optional. I made the filling with and without cashews and it works well both ways.
The star of the filling is the parsley, it has a lovely subtle flavour. It’s a nice contrast to the salty, neutral flavour of the ricotta.
Literally tomatoes, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, sugar and basil. All cooked down into a thick sauce to act as the perfect foil to the simple ravioli. The ravioli and the sauce work very well together. Once you try this, you’ll understand how simple, but satisfying the combination really is.
I’d love to know if you give this a try. Ravioli seems tricky, but it’s a fun and very rewarding thing to make.
Try these other flavours of the Mediterranean:
Italian Bean & Pasta Soup – tomato and herby loveliness
Italian Style Meatballs – walnuts, aduki beans and a whole lot of herbs
Watch me make it:
Homemade Maltese Ravioli. Soft pillowy pasta around a ricotta parsley filling smothered in lush thick tomato sauce. So easy to make.
- 400 g (14 oz) can of chopped tomatoes
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) water
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- salt & pepper to taste
- basil (fresh or dried) to taste
- 1/2 block extra firm tofu
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp white miso
- 20 g (0.7 oz) cashews - optional
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- good handful of parsley leaves (no stem)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 120 g (1 cup) white plain flour (or pasta flour)
- enough water to form soft dough
Water fry onions and garlic until translucent.
Add tomatoes, water and sugar, pepper and bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer on medium heat until sauce is to your preferred thick consistency.
Add salt and basil and it is ready to serve.
Grind cashews until they are fine. If you are doing this in a food processor you can finely chop the parsley at the same time.
In a bowl mash the tofu until it is a fine consistency,add the rest of the ingredients alongside the chopped parsley and cashews and mix thoroughly.
In a bowl add the flour and enough water to form a soft dough with your hands. Be careful not to overknead the dough as you do not want to activate too much of the gluten which will make the ravioli rubbery.
If you find that the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour and gently knead until it is still soft, but no longer sticks to your hands.
Form dough into a long ball and wrap with cling film. Leave to rest in the fridge for one hour.
After the ravioli dough has been rested, take it out of the cling film and test it for stickiness. If it is sticking a little to your hands add a little more flour before rolling it out.
Cut the dough into quarters and roll each piece separately.
Roll the first piece of dough into a wide length of about 1.5 to 2mm in thickness. Using a wide mouthed glass cut circles out of the rolled dough.
Place a small amount of the ricotta filling on each circle and fold in half so you end up with semi-circles and the filling pushed to the back on the fold. Using a fork close the ravioli, crimping both sides of the pasta together to form the ravioli. Making sure to close it completely. Any gaps will let filling to spill out when cooked.
Repeat this process until you have all your ravioli.
Boil a pan of water and add a pinch of salt. Throw each ravioli in (about 4 at a time) and cook for about 5 minutes until the ravioli have changed colour, are slightly translucent and floating to the surface.
Serve with a lovely blob of tomato sauce on top. Or thin the tomato sauce and mix the ravioli through it.
The raviolis can be frozen. Lay them out uncooked on a tray lined with parchment and freeze before bagging up.
To cook from frozen put them straight into boiling water from the freezer.