Sunday, May 17, 2009

Homemade Ravioli...

We worked with 8 new recipes this past week and looking back over what we made, Jeff chose the favorites this time, picking those Raspberry Jam Bars with Macaroon Topping, the Italian Wedding Soup and that Tamale Pizza from our Friday Night Pizza. Honorable mention goes to the Rhubarb Streusel Bread that we made for a surprise treat day... good stuff!

I had been asking for one of those hand-crank pasta machines that you attach to your counter and I got one as a present a few months ago. With good intentions, I kept trying to remember to set aside a recipe we could use it with, but it took me setting the thing out on the table so I wouldn't forget to look for one! I was going to keep it simple with a fresh fettuccine, but then decided to go all out after I came across this Homemade Ravioli with Herbed Ricotta Filling dish!

I do need to state right off the bat that the recipe for the pasta did call for Italian 00 flour (soft wheat flour), but none of the markets around here carried it (I did check a couple of the specialty stores too)! Maybe I just didn't look in the right stores? I know you can order it on-line, but now that I finally picked a recipe to make, I didn't want to wait around for it to arrive. So, instead of that, I compromised with a combination of all-purpose flour and semolina.

The dough was very straight forward, only consisting of those two dry ingredients, salt and a couple eggs. Just be sure that you give it time to rest and absorb the liquid once you've put your hands to work kneading it together - 20 minutes or so is good enough. After dividing the dough into eight little balls, we passed it through the handy rollers on the machine until we finally got down to that last notch, dusting it with flour if at any point it seemed to be sticky. Once your first strip is done, set it on a lightly floured surface and cover it to keep the dough pliable, then continue on seven more times!

Since this was the first time working with the pasta rollers, it felt like this process took me forever, but after I got through the third sheet, they started flying out of the machine! Taking one of those long pasta sheets, we dolloped on the filling consisting of smooth ricotta cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh basil, lemon zest, an egg, fresh ground black pepper and just a touch of crushed red pepper for bite. On that same pasta sheet, we took a little water on our fingertips and spread it around any areas that weren't covered by the filling. We gently placed another pasta sheet on top, taking care to keep the edges as even as possible and pushing out any air pockets as we went to seal the two sheets together. We used our fancy fluted pastry wheel to trim and cut the pasta into squares, but you could just as well use a knife or if you wanted to give them shape, use a round biscuit cutter and stamp them out!

Fresh pasta cooks in a hurry, so make sure you have everything ready when you are ready to go - once they hit the boiling, salted water (don't forget the salt... be generous!), the ravioli squares were done in less than 2 minutes! Unless you have a gigantic pot, since you end up with roughly 20 squares, cook them in two batches so they are not too crowed.

Because we wanted the pasta to stand up and be noted, the sauce to dress this is simply oil that we laced with a few cloves worth of minced garlic. Once warmed through and very fragrant (you don't need to let the garlic gain any color here), we drizzled the oil over each serving and freshened the dish up with a little fresh basil and a smattering of salty Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Using the combination of semolina and all-purpose flour worked well I thought as a substitution for the specialty flour, but do note the texture will be slightly more firm and not as silky - I'll have try the two side by side someday once I place an order and see just how different they may be!

Lots of work, yes, but having the satisfaction of making this entirely on your own is completely worth the time and effort! I especially liked how just that small touch of lemon zest in the filling brought a little unexpected brightness that cut through the richness. This is definitely one of those recipes you'd want to make on a lazy weekend so you could commit enough time to prepare it without feeling rushed. I do think that the next time I'm going to prepare this homemade ravioli, I will plan to double the recipe, leaving me with enough extras to freeze for a later date!


  1. I haven't bought this attachment yet, I'm very tempted. What a process to make pastas but worth the effort.

  2. I am so impressed! Great job. Add pasta-maker to your list of talents :) And you stuffed this fabulous looking pasta with my fav: ricotta. YUMMY! Sorry that I’ve been an absent commenter; I just finished up my law school exams and am finally getting around to my google reader.

  3. The ravioli looks scrumptious! There's nothing like fresh pasta. I had homemade pappardale for the first time recently and was wild about it!


  4. Joe - that looks goooood!

    I have one of those pasta roller gadgets (two, actually!), and one has a ravioli roller attachment as well. I did NOT have good luck with that attachment when I tried it years ago - I think you're better off doing the ravioli-ing part by hand like you did. (Then again, maybe I should give it another try sometime soon!?)

    Your filling and sauce both sound great - nice and light, yet packed with flavor!

  5. Helene - Get it!

    Elyse - Good luck with your exams!

    Quinn - That's on the list too!

    Jeph - I haven't seen that attachment, but I liked getting my hands dirty this way.