Faster Pasta

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I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy pasta recipes. Gnocchi is a family favourite. When I’m short on time, this ricotta gnocchi is perfect. Delicate, soft pillows that melt in your mouth; you wont believe how easy they are to make. A simple sauce from three ingredients and dinner’s done.

Another speedy pasta trick is to use Asian wonton wrappers for making ravioli. These are found in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores. It takes all the effort out of hand made pasta. For a classic filling, try silky smooth pumpkin with a flavour hit from crushed amaretti biscuits.

And I always keep my pantry stocked with tinned tomatoes, anchovies, capers, dried tomatoes and olives, which can be combined for a last minute flavour packed puttanesca.

All three recipes so quick and easy, you’ll whip up dinner in no time at all.

 

Ricotta Gnocchi

Try these delicate fluffy gnocchi and you’ll be hooked. They are much easier and quicker than traditional potato gnocchi. Look out for good quality fresh ricotta.

500g fresh ricotta
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus a little extra to serve
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
1 cup plain flour, plus extra if required
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 punnets cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ cup basil leaves, torn

Place ricotta in a fine sieve over a bowl for 30 minutes to drain off any excess liquid.
Place drained ricotta in a bowl with grated cheese, eggs and salt. Add flour and mix to forma dough. Add a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky and wet. Be careful not to overwork. Divide dough into quarters, and gently roll into 2cm diameter logs on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2cm pieces and gently place on a lightly floured tray. Press down with back of a fork to make indents in each gnocchi. Continue with remaining dough.
To make the sauce, heat oil, add garlic and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes and basil and bring to boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 8 minutes.
To cook gnocchi, drop into a saucepan of simmering, lightly salted water and remove as soon as they float to the top, after 1 or 2 minutes. Place in a warmed bowl, top with some tomato sauce and gently mix. Serve with a little extra parmesan.

Serves 4.

Pumpkin ravioli with burnt butter sauce

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No need for a pasta machine for these little ravioli. Simply use wonton wrappers, instead. Amaretti biscuits make a surprise addition to the filling.

 

500g peeled butternut pumpkin, cut in large dice

6 Amaretti biscuits, crushed

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

600g packet square wonton wrappers

1 egg, beaten

100g butter

handful sage leaves

½ cup fresh walnut pieces

freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve

1 lemon, to squeeze

To make filling, cook pumpkin in a steamer or microwave until soft. Place over a sieve to allow any excess liquid to drain.

Mash pumpkin or puree with a stick blender and mix with Amaretti biscuits, breadcrumbs, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

Place wonton wrappers on kitchen bench in a single layer. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle. Brush beaten egg around the edges and cover with another wonton wrapper. Press to seal edges and remove any air by gently pressing with a cupped hand. Cut with a ravioli cutter.

To cook ravioli, drop into a saucepan of simmering, lightly salted water and remove as soon as they float to the top, after 2-3 minutes. Place in a warmed bowl and continue until all the ravioli are cooked.

Melt butter in a large pan and fry sage leaves and walnut pieces until fragrant and crisp. Place ravioli in pan and gently toss to coat. Squeeze over lemon juice.

Serve with extra parmesan.

Serves 6.

Makes approx 40 ravioli.

Spaghetti puttanesca

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This homestyle sauce has its origins in Naples. The simple ingredients are pantry staples. It is quick and easy to prepare.

 

 

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra

1 brown onion, diced

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

4 anchovy fillets, chopped

400 g tin chopped tomatoes

200 ml tomato passata

200 ml water

1 tbsp small salted capers, rinsed

½ cup sun dried/ semi dried tomatoes

2 tbsp small black olives

500g dried spaghetti

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season

grated parmesan cheese to serve

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion. Add the chilli, anchovies, tomatoes, passata, water, capers, sundried tomatoes and black olives and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to packet directions until al dente.  Drain, reserving half a cup of pasta water. Add sea salt, pepper, and a glug of olive oil to the sauce, and lighten with a little of the pasta water, if needed. Add the pasta and toss well. Serve in warm pasta plates, with grated parmigiano.

Serves 4.

 

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