Working on your resolutions for 2011?
In addition to DRINK MORE WATER, you should add MAKE PASTA FROM SCRATCH to your list. It's definitely a life changer. You will never take fresh homemade pasta for granted again. If you find yourself really digging the experience, you might take it a step further and make a batch of these scrumptious cheese ravioli. Wanna go crazy? Double the recipe and make it for your family on Christmas Eve. Having survived the crazy, I'd make sure you have about 4 hours of time allotted to do so. It's a lot work, but totally WORTH it. Don't let my mom tell you any different!
But let's start off simple. Pasta dough.
The pictures you'll see next are for a DOUBLE batch of pasta dough. Don't be scared. There's only 5 eggs in a single batch.
Pile the flour on your board. Make a well for the eggs.
Crack the eggs in the center of the well & slowly beat the eggs with a fork, incorporating the flour in the process.
When the dough starts to come together, start kneading it.
It takes about 10 minutes until it's elastic & a little sticky. Your arms are gonna be toned!
Cut the dough into 4 pieces and wrap them up in plastic wrap.
Set aside for 30 minutes. Now it's filling time!
Chop up the Italian parsley.
Add it to a bowl of ricotta, freshly grated Parmesan, two eggs, salt & pepper. Mix.
There's your filling. Set it aside.
Take a piece of dough and make it into a burger. Flour it slightly and run it through your pasta machine.
You need to crank it through, fold it in thirds on itself and crank it through a bunch of times.
Slowly lower the roller settings, crank out more & fold in half and you have thin pasta.
Punch out rounds of the dough for your ravioli.
Add about a tablespoon of filling to the center. Wet the edges with water. Fold over half of the ravioli.
Push out all of the air in between the filling & the dough. Press the edges firmly & crimp them with a fork.
Place done ravioli on a floured baking sheet. Watch out, you'll make a lot.
Speaking of...here's my loot for Christmas Eve.
They are light, fluffy and utterly divine. Totally worth the energy I put in.
Homemade Cheese Ravioli
(Pasta Dough Recipe slightly adapted from Molto Mario, by Mario Batali)
(Filling adapted from my Grandmother's recipe)
For the Pasta Dough:
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the eggs. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well. As you incorporate the eggs, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). The dough will come together in a shaggy mass when about half of the flour is incorporated.
Start kneading the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. Add more flour, in 1/2-cup increments, if the dough is too sticky. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust your board with flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.
For the Filling:
- 1 lb. ricotta cheese (full fat)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- pinch of salt
Thoroughly mix all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Cover & set aside in the fridge until you are ready to fill your ravioli.
To make the Ravioli:
Cut the dough into 4 pieces, wrap 3 of them up again in plastic and set aside. Flatten the piece of dough into a burger shape that is somewhat thicker in the middle and about 1/4 inch thick at the edges. Set the rollers of the pasta machine to the widest setting. Dust the rollers with flour to make sure they are completely dry. Using one hand, crank the handle to start the rollers, and feed the dough in with your other hand. As the flattened piece of dough emerges, catch it gently with a flat palm so as not to tear it. Fold the dough into thirds, flatten it slightly with your palms and roll it out again. Repeat this process 5 times, then set the rollers to the next-thinnest setting and repeat the folding and rolling process 6 times. At the third setting, repeat the process 3 times, since the dough will have become more delicate. As you work, dust the pasta dough with flour. If you are working on a wooden cutting board, you should be able to see the grain of the board through your pasta. That is when you know it's thin enough.
Flour a 4 inch round cutter and start cutting your pasta. Place less than a tablespoon of the ricotta filling into the center of each ravioli round. Lightly moisten the edges of the ravioli with water, fold over one side of the round to make a half moon and press out any air that's been trapped inside. Crimp the edges with a small fork and place on a floured baking sheet. Repeat process until all the dough & filling is used.
When you are cooking the ravioli in a large pot of salted water, they should take about 5-8 minutes til they're done. If you are cooking them from a frozen state (like I did) 10-11 minutes should be your range. Make sure there's enough room for them to move around (so they don't stick). The general rule for ravioli is that they are done when they float to the top.
- I doubled this recipe to make over 100 ravioli for Christmas Eve. I split the dough in half so it was easier for me to knead. Kneading all of that dough proved to be a challenge. I would say that a single batch will serve about 4-5 HUNGRY people.
- If you find that your dough is too hard and not kneading well, moisten your hands with some water and continue. Also, don't worry because the rest time will help your dough become super mailable.
- To freeze the ravioli, I placed about 12 of them on a plate and stuck them in my freezer until they were totally hard. I then put them all together in ziploc containers and stacked them in my freezer. They were frozen for about a week before we ate them.