Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fresh Ravioli or Pasta Dough

 photo null_zps1e03059a.jpgMy Italian Mom made homemade ravioli for special occasions and family gatherings in the days before mixers and gadgets.  It was a labor of love, as making it for a crowd was an all day affair. 

I can still picture her rolling out the dough with a rolling pin, and covering the counters and kitchen table with her ravioli "project."

She would divide and roll her dough into two large rectangles and get about 36 medium size ravioli with 3 cups of flour.


When first married I made them her way, but since then I've acquired the machines and gadgets for making it much easier to enjoy fresh pasta or ravioli without taking all day.  I make up a batch of pasta dough, then make ravioli and also cut some pasta noodles, freezing or drying extra for future meals.


A Kitchen Aid mixer and attachments for making pasta of various sizes is a dream machine for: lasagna, linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti; a ravioli press also makes the process easier.  I gave my manual Atlas Pasta Maker to my sister after I "moved up" to an electric attachment. The Atlas worked very well, and I'd recommend it if you don't have a Kitchen Aid.  Ravioli Presses and Stamps come in various sizes and shapes and are available on line or in the kitchen gadget section of many stores.

I use a basic ricotta cheese filling, and sometimes add cooked diced sausage. Ravioli fillings can be just about anything you desire!  There are many recipes on line for different types of fillings, but  I've stayed with Mom's basic ricotta filling.  I've even made my own fresh ricotta a few times, but commercial ricotta is very handy.

For a pasta dinner, I like to serve some fresh pasta and ravioli, then cover with sauce and also serve Italian sausage or meatballs.  Add a salad and garlic bread and you'll enjoy a fresh Italian feast at home more often!  Did I mention fresh pasta is fun to make?  It is, and if you have kids or grandkids, get them involved. They love being involved no matter what gadgets you use!

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Pasta Drying Rack


Ravioli or Pasta Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 - 3 Tabs. of oil or melted shortening
beaten egg whites for brushing dough

Ravioli Filling
1 pound Ricotta
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or chopped spinach)
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 - 4 Tabs. Parmesan cheese

For the filling: Beat ricotta until creamy, add egg yolk, parsley, salt, pepper and grated cheese.  Mix well.  Filling should not be too soft.  Add more cheese if necessary. 

 photo null_zpsf6fe59ad.jpgFor the dough: In mixer with paddle (or a food processor) combine flour, eggs, and salt. Process until well mixed. With mixer running, add water and oil until mixture begins to form a dough. Switch to dough hook and continue mixing until dough comes together in a ball. Remove dough and on a lightly floured surface, knead dough about 1 minute or until smooth. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or cover with a warm damp towel and let stand for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a flat disk. Pass each portion through pasta roller attachment several times, according to manufacturer's directions until dough is 1/8-inch thick (about the thickness of a chef knife).  Begin with thickest setting and with each pass, change to thinner setting.

Lay widened strips separated on a floured board and cover until ready to cut into shapes; or lay between sheets of floured wax paper and cover. With this recipe I made 20 large (2-1/2 inch square) raviolis and 4 serving of fettuccine noodles.

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For ravioli without a ravioli press gadget or ravioli maker, lay one wide strip flat and brush with beaten egg or water. Drop 1 to 1 /2 rounded teaspoons of filling on dough spaced apart about 1 inch apart; lay another wide strip over the dough with the filling. 

Beginning at the center and working out to edges, gently press between mounds with fingers around mounds of filling to seal dough into little sections and to press out any air.  Cut into squares with a ravioli wheel, or cut out with a knife and seal edges by pressing edges with a fork. Set aside, cover with a towel, until ready to boil.  Or at this time, place on trays and freeze for future use.



For a ravioli press (see pics): follow manufacturer's instructions. Lay wide strips on ravioli press, brush with water or egg white, and press dough to make pockets, fill, then lay second strip.  Roll rolling pin over dough and pull extra dough away from press.  Turn on individual ravioli and set aside, covered with a towel until ready to boil, or freeze for future use.
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To cook ravioli, bring a large amount of salted water to boiling. Gently drop several ravioli, one at a time, into the boiling water and stir to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes depending on thickness or until tender. Take one out to taste test. They should float to the top. 
  
Don't over cook to the point they fall apart.  Using a slotted spoon, remove and transfer ravioli to a serving dish.  Cover with Parmesan and sauce keeping warm until serving time.

Ravioli may also by made a day ahead. Boil for 10 minutes, then after boiling, blanch with cold water and save between layers of wax paper in the refrigerator, then reheat for 5 minutes in boiling water the next day.  If using frozen ravioli, drop in boiling water and and add an extra 5 minutes.

For Pasta: Run strips through cutting attachment then drape cut pasta on drying rack (or lay on floured towel or cutting board to dry).  May be cooked immediately for a recipe or dried and stored or frozen and stored.

Estimated Cost for Pasta Dough: $1.25 or less. Ricotta filling: $3.00 or less.