Homemade Cheese Ravioli

ImageThis weekend I made homemade ravioli from scratch. Truly, not as difficult as it sounds. This was my second time making it and practice certainly makes perfect. My first batch a few months ago was tasty but I think my pasta was too thick so it seemed like dumplings. Also, they looked rather rustic being handcut and rather large as I used a muffin tin as my guide.

This Christmas I got a Ravioliera (aka a ravioli tray or maker). Sort of like a mini muffin tin with edges that will cut the ravioli for you. This way you get a good seal between pasta layers as well as uniform shape and size.

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I made Black Pepper Pasta. Basically, a normal pasta recipe with fresh cracked black pepper put directly into the dough. Very tasty. Filled with cheese and topped with marinara sauce. If you want a meat and this is your first time, I suggest a fully cooked filling like a ground sausage. That way the filling is cooked but the surrounding pasta isn’t over-cooked. Filling and sauce can be made the day before. (Don’t use ones from a jar! Really if you are making your own pasta take some time to make the sauce and filling. It is easy.)

Filling Recipe:

Ricotta cheese with freshly chopped basil, oregano and chives. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Taste it to be sure it is seasoned correctly. (Add in shredded mozzarella, parmesan, or asiago if you want).

Quick Marinara Recipe:

1 can plain tomato sauce

1 can plain diced tomatoes

small can of tomato paste

1 onion

Olive Oil

Seasonings: salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano

Saute onion in its own pan in a bit of olive oil with some seasonings. Put all other ingredients in a pot. Add a dash of olive oil. Season sauce to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, oregano. Bring almost to a boil and then cover and let simmer for 20 minutes (or more). Add in onions once sauce is simmering. Optional: dash of balsamic vinegar, wine or honey. Careful with the salt, add a little then wait 5 min for it to disperse. Taste sauce periodically to make sure seasoning is right. You can simmer your sauce while you are making your dough.

Recipe: Basic Homemade Pasta

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup flour

2 tablespoon water

Optional: Freshly cracked black pepper, red pepper or garlic powder to taste

Step 1: Put flour, salt (& pepper if you choose) in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Add the beaten egg, mix lightly. Add water as needed. (I needed a bit more than 2 tbls). Should form a stiff dough similar to a pastry crust.

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Step 2: Make your dough into a ball. (Don’t worry if you have the stray bit of flour in the bottom of your bowl, sometimes it just won’t stick in.) Knead for 3-4 minutes on a lightly floured surface. A wooden cutting board is best as I find less sticking than on slick surfaces like glass or marble.

Step 3: Divide dough into 4 smaller balls. Start rolling one ball out into a oblong rectangle sort of shape. (Cover remaining in cling wrap so they don’t dry out.) Roll out as thin as possible, 1 mm or less. Flip the dough occasionally so one side doesn’t stick to the bottom. Add dusting flour as needed.

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Step 4: Once dough is as thin as you can get it, roll it some more. Seriously! Pasta doubles in thickness when it cooks. You should be able to see your fingers thru the dough when you hold it up. I find pressing on the rolling pin in the middle rather than relying on the handles gives me more pressure (a la a French style rolling pin).

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Step 5: Get out your Ravioliera. (What don’t have one? Try buying online. Or use a mini muffin pan or even an egg carton. You can do it on a flat surface as well just make them slightly larger and don’t over fill with stuffing.) Make sure your ravioli press is dry and dusted with flour so they won’t stick. Put first layer down. Gently press into dips to make room for filling.

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Step 6: Spoon in the filling. Don’t over fill. You want the pasta to cook at the same rate as the filling. Also, if too much it can prevent tight seal to the edges. Lightly cover with cling film.

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Step 7: Roll out second piece of dough as before. Uncover base dough, put a bit of water along the edges of the ravioli to get good seal. Place top layer on top. Use rolling pin to press them together. Pull off excess edges (cut into pasta strips or roll back into a ball).

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Step 8: You may have to press down some inside edges with your fingers to get them to cut. Notice the thickness of the edges. Your pasta should be thin enough to have two layers fit in that height. (If using a muffin tin just cut into squares with a knife or fluted pastry cutter).

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Step 9: Tip out your ravioli. Don’t need to be gentle, they should have a tight seal.

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Step 10: Put into boiling water for 2-5 minutes. They should float to the top when done. Pull one out and nibble the corner to see if pasta is done. Drain well and cover with sauce.

You can use the same recipe for linguine if you just cut the pasta into strips. You can also make pasta the day before. Either wrap the unrolled balls in cling film in the refrigerator and roll out when you need them or make everything ahead and just cook ravioli on the day. Even left overs re-heated are good. Your sauce will actually taste better the next day as the flavors will develop more.

While this ravioli may seem time consuming, it isn’t. I made everything in about an hour. Since fresh pasta cooks much quicker it can be almost the same time to heat your water and cook dried spaghetti.

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