spicy spinach-ricotta ravioli with chickpea puree
“margherite” con crema di ceci
4 servings

1/3 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in enough water to cover them by 2 inches, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled
4 leafy sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Fine sea salt
6 ounces baby spinach (about 6 cups packed)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 fresh red chile pepper, such as red jalapeño or scotch bonnet, seeded
1 3/4 cups fresh ricotta cheese
11/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: a 2 3/4-inch round or fluted cutter

FOE SAUCE: In a 4- to 5-quart saucepan, combine chickpeas, garlic, 2 sprigs thyme and 6 cups water; bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until chickpeas are tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Meanwhile, make pasta.

FOR PASTA: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.

Add spinach and cook until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve and run under cold water to cool. Squeeze water from spinach until just damp, then finely chop. 

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and pinch salt. Mound flour mixture and form a well in the center. Add spinach and egg to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolk and slowly incorporate flour from inside rim of well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then knead in bowl until dough forms a complete mass. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes more. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes. 

Return to sauce: reserving cooking liquid, drain chickpeas. Discard garlic and thyme sprigs.

Pick enough of the remaining thyme leaves to make 2 teaspoons. In the bowl of a food processor, combine chickpeas, ¾ cup reserved cooking liquid, oil, 1 teaspoon thyme leaves and salt; purée until smooth. Transfer sauce to a small saucepan and set aside.

FOR FILLING: Thinly slice 1/4 of the chile; set aside for garnish. Finely chop remaining chile. In a medium bowl, combine cheese, oil, 1/2 teaspoon chile and salt. Adjust chile to taste (heat of pepper can vary greatly, depending on variety).

Divide pasta dough into four pieces. Cover 3 pieces with plastic wrap. Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine. Roll pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), until pasta sheet is about 1/16 inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough. Cut out 32 (2 3/4-inch) rounds from pasta sheets (keep dough, sheets and squares covered with a clean dish towel while rolling and cutting to avoid drying). 

Place 1 level tablespoon filling in center of 16 dough rounds. Cover with remaining rounds, dipping a finger in cold water and pressing edges to seal. Keep ravioli covered with a clean dishtowel until ready to cook.

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a low boil; avoid a rolling boil, which may cause the pasta to open up. Gently reheat chickpea purée over low heat, stirring occasionally.

In batches of 15 to 20, cook ravioli in the boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ravioli to serving bowls. Spoon sauce over ravioli, garnish with reserved sliced chile and thyme leaves. Serve immediately.