Call us partial but we believe there's nothing quite like sitting down to a meal with locals to really get to know a place. Well, the only thing better is to first cook that meal with said locals.
While filming our "Behind The Bottle" video series for Lucini Italia we spent a lot of time in Tuscany's Alta Maremma where the company first began. Our home base was the tiny Tuscan town of Bibbona and there we got to know the talented Chef Gionata D'Alessi of the restaurant Io Cucino.
Chef Gionata is a native of Bibbona who's known for food that pays homage to classic Tuscan recipes while focusing on creativity and seasonality. One recipe that perfectly embodies his style is this Ravioli Di Pappa Al Pomodoro where two of our all-time favorite Italian recipes -- pappa al pomodoro and ravioli -- come together.
After a morning visit to the Livorno central market (which is worth a visit if you ever find yourself there btw), we headed back to Gionata's kitchen to cook together. Made with fresh homemade pasta dough filled the rustic Tuscan tomato bread stew known as pappa al pomodoro and topped with a basil oil, ricotta, and lots of olive oil, this recipe is a project in an of itself but we promise it's very much worth it.
It makes a perfect weekend cooking project us and works as well as a Sunday supper main as it does as a first course at your next dinner party. For more inspiration and a look into how to make it, check out the videos below.
plus fresh basil leaves for garnish
divided plus more for garnish
also known as tomato passato or passata di pomodoro
beaten until smooth
To Make The Basil Oil: Bring a small pot of water to a boil and set a small bowl of ice water in the sink. When the water boils, add the basil and as soon as it wilts (pretty much immediately) drain it and place the basil in the ice water. Place 1/4 cup of the oil oil and the basil leaves in a blender (it's okay if a bit of water is still on the leaves) then turn on the blender. Slowly pour another 1/4 cup of the olive oil through the hole in the blender top until all incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Make The Tomato Sauce: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, and celery and season with a pinch of salt. Once the vegetables are slightly soft, about 5 minutes, add the tomato puree. Once the tomato puree simmers, stir in the breadcrumbs and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the breadcrumbs are absorbed then turn off the heat and sit an additional 10 minutes. Place the mixture in a blender and process until smooth -- the mixture should be smooth and lighter in color. Taste and add more salt as needed. Set aside until ready to use.
To Make The Pasta Dough: Combine the "00" and semolina flours and a pinch of salt in a Food Processor fit with an “S” blade and run on high until the flours are well combined. With the food processor running, pour in the eggs (make sure they’re well beaten), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and run until the dough comes together into a ball.
Turn the pasta dough onto a floured surface and knead it briefly until it comes together as a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes before using.
Pasta can be made to this step up to 1 day ahead. Store wrapped in plastic, placed in a resealable plastic bag, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.
To Roll Out The Pasta Sheets: Fit a pasta roller onto a counter. Cut dough into six pieces (they need to fit in the Pasta Roller). Press each piece into a rectangle shape.
Pull the roller adjustment knob straight out and turn to setting 1. Release the knob, making certain the pin on the roller housing engages the opening on the back of the adjustment knob, allowing the knob to fit flush against the roller housing.
Turn stand mixer to speed 2. Feed flattened, lightly floured dough into rollers to knead. Fold dough in thirds, flatten, lightly flour, and roll again. Repeat until dough is smooth and pliable and covers the width of the roller. Lightly dust pasta with flour while rolling and cutting to aid in drying and separation.
Feed dough through rollers to further flatten the sheet of dough. Change the roller to setting 3, and repeat the rolling process. Continue to increase roller setting until you reach setting 8. Do not fold the dough during this step. Cut dough as needed to make it wieldy.
To Form The Ravioli: You should have one quarter of your dough rolled out and cut in half, so that you have two pieces of dough roughly 15 inches long and five inches across. Cover one sheet with a towel to keep it from drying out.
Fold the first sheet along its midline to make a light crease and then re-open it. Working so that your filling is approximately one-and-a-half inches in diameter and half an inch apart, place six tablespoons of the pappa al pomodoro along the lower half of the dough. Moisten the dough lightly with your water and pastry brush then fold it over along the crease, pressing from the folded point outward to remove excess air. Gently pat the dough down around each lump of filling to create a seal. Use a small biscuit cutter to stamp the ravioli into even circles.
To Cook The Ravioli: Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook just until the pasta is cooked through, about 30 seconds. Remove to a baking sheet and repeat with remaining ravioli. To serve the ravioli, place a large spoonful of the tomato sauce on the bottom of each plate in a diagonal line. Overlap six ravioli in a line atop the sauce, add a drizzle of basil oil, a few spoonfuls of ricotta, a few fresh basil leaves, a few shavings of the ricotta salata, then finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.
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