The inspiration was a plate of spinach and ricotta-stuffed tortellini with chestnut sauce that I ate in Mamma Rosa, a tiny cramped pizzeria tucked away down a narrow cobbled street in Lisbon on my way back from the Azores. I watched a raisin-faced man pummelling the dough behind the counter before coaxing it into dainty tortellini shapes and as soon as it passed my lips I knew I had to recreate that pasta heaven.
I resisted the temptation to splash out immediately on a pasta machine, fearing that it would join that graveyard of 'things-I-have-bought-and-used-once' (windsurfer, roller blades, exercise bike to name but a few) and invested instead in a €4 rolling-pin - which only heightened my gratification at the end result.
Ravioli of spinach, ricotta and sweet chestnuts
1 lb/500 g strong pasta flour
5 fresh eggs
semolina flour for dusting
9 oz/250 g ricotta
5 oz/150 g cooked spinach
2 oz/50 g cooked sweet chestnuts, smashed up
2 oz/50 g finely grated parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the flour and eggs in a food processor and switch on. Leave until it all comes together into a ball. Take it out (the bowl should be clean) and work by hand for 2 minutes or until smooth, silky and elastic. Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
2. Mix all the filling ingredients together. After an hour remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 2 balls. Re-cover one of the balls and with the base of your palm, flatten the other one slightly. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the dough until you have a very thin sheet of pasta about 1-2 mm thick.
3. Cut the pasta sheet into circles (about 10 cm/4 inches - or whatever size you want). Place a teaspoon of filling just off centre, brush the edges of the pasta with water and fold in half. Press down the edges with a fork.
4. To cook, place in a pan of boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes.
PS: That giant chestnut in the picture is from the same tree as the tennis ball-sized chestnut that looked like a medieval spiked battle flail.