guest blog – making ravioli

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: pasta | Tags: , , , , , , |

A note from handmixed: many of my friends are fantastic chefs, especially today’s special guest cookingkozey!  She tackled the challenge of homemade pasta for us and wrote a fantastic blog to show us all how it’s done.  I’m grateful to her for taking on this challenge because due to my “handmixed” status, I have not yet delved into the world of KitchenAid Mixers and pasta making attachments.  Hopefully this won’t be her only guest blog!  Thanks again friend 🙂


I was so excited when our host asked me to write a guest entry on handmixed.  Cooking is a great way for me to relax and be creative.  It’s also a great way to avoid doing my actual work, so let’s just say I dived into this entry head first.

The task:  Homemade ravioli.  Some filled with spinach and ricotta cheese, and some with spicy Italian sausage mixed in.
Making homemade pasta is labor intensive.  But the rewards are worth the effort.  And, if you’re like me, you throw on the Moonstruck soundtrack and pour yourself some Chianti while you make it, so really it’s a pretty solid afternoon.

The dough recipe is basically Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe, although I add in some semolina flour.  But really, there’s no point in getting too fancy with the dough ingredients.  What makes fresh pasta so delicious is its freshness… the ingredients themselves are pretty simple.

Fresh Pasta Dough:
2 1/2 c. unbleached white flour
1/2 c. semolina pasta flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tb. salt
1 tb. olive oil

2 c. part skim ricotta cheese
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 lb. fresh spinach
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of black pepper
2 spicy Italian sausages (optional)

My first step was making the dough.  Giada says you can do this in the food processor, but that eliminates the most fun step, so I did it the old-fashioned way.  First you put the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle of it.  Then, lightly scramble the eggs in a small bowl, and stir in the salt and olive oil.  Pour this mix into the center of the well of flour.  I took a fork, and gradually worked the flour into the wet mixture until eventually a crumbly dough-like mixture formed.  I had to ditch the fork after a few minutes and mostly got the dough formed with my hands.

After kneading the dough and splashing it with a bit of warm water (mine was a little too crumbly but that’s a good fix) I let it rest covered in plastic for 30 minutes.  Plenty of time to make the fillings.

My filling had ricotta cheese, so I got that in a large bowl, and added one egg.  Then I cooked the spinach in a pot of boiling water.  Now, this was my first time ever boiling fresh spinach.  So I got a big pot of water, threw in some salt, and dropped all the spinach leaves in when the water was boiling.  It took about 90 seconds for the spinach to cook down to about a tenth of what it was raw.  I then let it cool, squeezed as much liquid out as I could, and added it to the ricotta and grated cheese (Advice- don’t be gentle with the spinach when you get the water out- you don’t want it to be soggy!).  I added in the nutmeg and pepper (and sausage which I had browned in a pan) and set it aside.

For making the dough into the pretty sheets, first I cut the dough into quarters and worked with one.  After getting it rolled into a pretty thin rectangle (maybe 1/4 inch thick), I used a pasta-rolling attachment for my stand mixer.  You plug it into the front of the machine, and when you turn the mixer to the lowest setting, the little rollers will flatten your dough.  Start with the widest setting and pass the dough through.  Do this a few times, then move on to the next smallest setting.  Keep doing this and your pasta sheet will get more uniform, thinner, and longer.  I went all the way to the thinnest setting, giving me a long rectangular sheet of pasta dough.
I think this step gives people the most anxiety, but if you keep your dough nice and dry, and don’t go too fast moving up in roller settings, it should work.  And if you have trouble, just splash the dough with some water, roll it out again, and try again.  Pasta dough is resilient!

Now, on to the actual ravioli.  To get the shape, I used a small biscuit cutter, but anything will do here… the top of a drinking glass, cookie cutter, etc.  I was initially cutting them each out individually from the sheet, but I figured out that I could make an assembly line of fillings about 2 inches apart on the sheet, fold the dough over, and make many more at a quick pace.  So I did that, and the result after using all the dough was about 3 lb. of ravioli.
Note on filling– I used a regular spoonful in each ravioli.  I then cinched the edges to seal them shut with a fork, and kept them very dry by covering them with semolina flour.  You WANT them to dry out a bit once your done… sticky ravioli are no good to cook.  Do NOT pile them on top of each other.  If you want to pile them, throw a sheet of paper towel in between.  Dry is the key here.

After they are done pop them in the freezer for a few minutes and get another big pot of salted water boiling.  This is a good time to heat up whatever sauce you want to use to serve them.  I personally like regular old tomato marinara that’s a little spicy, but you could go as simple as olive oil, salt, pepper and some grated cheese on these little pockets of heaven.  Once the water is boiling drop the ravioli in.  Because they are fresh they take almost NO time to cook.  I kept them in for about 2 minutes, until they were rising to the surface of the water.

Take them out immediately and splash them with a little of the salty pasta water in the serving bowl so they don’t stick together.  Pour some sauce over them, maybe some grated cheese, and eat up!
Advice- When you cook dried pasta, it’s usually recommended that you put the cooked pasta INTO the sauce and let it cook for a moment before serving.  I wouldn’t do this with fresh pasta.  You don’t want it to get mushy!

Thanks again for having me, this was fun… and my camera only has a little flour and egg on it:)


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