homemade ravioli

homemade ravioli looks like little pillows.

a backpacking trip in italy with jim early in our marriage triggered my interest in italian food. we were traveling on a snug budget which sent us to small family restaurants, where the rich, homey dishes were prepared with inherited recipes, no doubt learned with the short cuts, techniques, and pots that belonged to each kitchen.

trekking from the train station of each town, we stayed in one-star pensiones, with a bathroom down the hall from an intimate little room, and breakfast included in the modest price. we took any leftover bread from the morning meal in our backpacks for lunch, adding cheese and a tomato from a market, that we would wash in one of hundreds of gushing, ornate public fountains.

in the evenings we ate risottos and pastas, and drank the vino locale that came to our table with little fanfare, but a great deal of pride. i read once that marcella hazan cooks to please her husband, victor, and i think that must be true of every italian chef: the food we ate there was made to please and nourish, to fill up the body and the heart, and it seemed it was essential to the cooks for us to be pleased with their dishes– as if it was their soul purpose in life.

i remember in one restaurant, sitting at a table was the family's grandfather. he ate alone, dressed in a starched, white buttoned down shirt, with family members serving him accompanied by brief exchanges in italian that we couldn't understand. at the end of his meal, he tottered over to our table to give me a single, perfect rose and a "grazie". i guess he was fulfilled because it was obvious that we were gratified with the food at his family's restaurant.

• 3-4 lbs. of fresh spinach
• 1 lb. of ricotta cheese
• about 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• a scant 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
• kosher salt
• pepper

clean the spinach well in a salad spinner & put it into a stock pot with a tight fitting lid. the moisture left on the leaves of the spinach should be enough to cook it on low. lift the lid to stir it and then cover it again until it is wilted.

let the spinach cool and then roughly chop it. in a large mixing bowl add all the remaining ingredients except just 1/2 cup of the parmesan.

i have used this same pasta machine & ravioli cutter
for about 20 years.

(serves 10 as a side dish)
• 4 eggs
• semolina flour
• unbleached all-purpose white flour
• dried oregano
• kosher salt

in the food processor fitted with the basic blade, pulse the eggs until a little frothy. add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the semolina and blend well. gradually add the flour about 1/4 cup at a time, pulsing in between additions, just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl - it should still be wet & sticky. turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until it is soft and smooth, about 8-10 min. wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter about an hour.

cut the dough into fourths. process 1/4 at a time, and keep the pieces not being cut in the plastic wrap. using either a hand-crank pasta machine, or the attachment for the kitchen aid, dust the 1/4 piece of dough with flour and flatten a little with your hands. then put it through the #1 setting on the pasta roller. continue to dust with flour and fold in half, then run through the roller until the dough is no longer sticky, but not dry or tough.

next, set the pasta roller to #2 and run the piece of dough through the roller. increase the setting to #3, and on up to #4 for the correct thickness to make ravioli. i take it up to about #6 for linguini, but ravioli needs to be a little thicker to hold the stuffing. cut the sheets to measure about 15" to 16" long, the width will naturally be the that of the pasta roller.

process the remaining 1/4 pieces of dough and dust the sheets with flour to stack them and keep them from sticking.

lightly flour a clean board, and lay one sheet of pasta on the board. gently fold it in half long ways to make a fold line to use as a guide for adding the filling. using two teaspoons, put about 1 rounded tbl. of filling in two rows (one above the fold line, and one below), being careful to leave enough space between the dollops to cut the raviolis. then wet your fingers and run them between and around all of the filling to help the pasta stick together when you cut it. lay another sheet of pasta on top and press it down around each dollop of filling. press all of the air out of each ravioli and then cut them with a ravioli cutter.

boil the ravioli in a large pot for about 5 mintues and serve with your favorite sauce, or simply top with grated cheese.

1 comment:

Michelle Turner said...

Lovely post. Steve & I used to do the same with breakfast breads in France. Given the French distaste for doggie bags, that meant always getting room service breakfast rather than going to the nice dining room. You also remind me that we need to make ravioli again, as it's been a while.