Cooking classes and ravioli

Posted: June 25, 2012 in Food, Recipes
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I love pasta!  Pasta’s always been my go-to dish.  What to make for lunch/dinner?  How about pasta…with tomato sauce…or olive oil and garlic…or olive oil and Parmesan…or olive oil and sauteed mushrooms…of something else entirely?  But when I took a few cooking classes and learned to make ravioli, my pasta life changed.  I bought a simple pasta machine and now, at every major holiday, my family requests ravioli.  If you follow these easy steps for making homemade ravioli, your family and guests will love you for it.  But be ready to make them often (ravioli and guests!)  I suggest making a double batch each time and freezing one for future use.  Or teach your children to make them and it can be a family time activity.

You might think ravioli are complicated to make, but they really aren’t.  Here’s how to make the pasta.  Of course the pasta can be used for ravioli or for any other type of pasta.

Pasta

2 ¼ c. flour
3 large eggs
1 t. salt

Mound flour on countertop.  Make a well and add salt.  Carefully break in eggs.  Gently mix salt and eggs together with a fork.  Slowly incorporate in the flour until you get a paste.  Use your fingers to continue incorporating flour until the dough has absorbed as much as it can without becoming stiff and dry.  Keep getting rid of hard, crusty bits from hands/table/flour.  Knead dough for about 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic, adding in more flour if it becomes sticky.  Let rest for 20 minutes.

Divide into four pieces, working with one at a time while keeping the others covered with a dish towel.  Take a piece of dough and lightly dust with flour.  Dust the rollers of the pasta machine with flour.  Start with the rollers on the widest setting.  Put the dough through the machine, then dust with flour and fold into thirds.  Do this three or four times.  Then go to the next smaller setting.  Roll through twice on each setting, making sure to flour rollers so dough doesn’t stick.  You may need to stop at the second to last setting if dough is already quite thin.

(The picture looks great, but be sure to cover the pieces of pasta you’re not using so they don’t dry out.)

At this point, you can cut the pasta into ribbons, if not making ravioli, lightly flour and place on a lightly floured surface.  Let dry about 20-30 minutes, then store somewhere covered.  Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook.

To make ravioli:

You can make ravioli one of two ways.  Either way, start by laying out your sheet of pasta on the lightly floured counter.  You can place small amounts of filling about an inch or so apart on a sheet of pasta.  Using a pastry brush, brush lightly with water on the edges and between filling.

Place a second sheet of pasta on top, pressing firmly around filling.  Be sure to get all the air out.  Cut with a knife, pizza cutter or ravioli cutter.  I cut them with a knife and then use either my fingers or a fork to press the edges together. (I’ve had a ravioli cutter on my Christmas list for several years but haven’t received one yet.)  Place on a lightly floured tray (or try putting waxed or parchment paper down or sprinkle with cornmeal) and let dry.  You can freeze prepared ravioli easily.  I put them on waxed paper on a jelly roll pan.  When they’re frozen, I put them in a freezer bag.  Makes it very easy to have homemade ravioli at any time.  Just cook them slightly longer.

OR

 Using one sheet of pasta, place filling a little to the front of halfway (toward you, as you’re working.)  Brush water on front edge, between filling mounds and just behind filling.  Carefully fold back edge of pasta over to front, leaving a bit of an edge in the back.  Smooth from back to front and between filling mounds, making sure to get air out.  Cut and dry as above.

When cooking fresh ravioli, cook about 5 minutes.

Because I often make ravioli with two different fillings, I also make two kinds of pasta:  plain and green.  That way I can distinguish which filling is which. Green or spinach pasta is also simple to make.

Green Pasta

 ½ ten-oz. package of frozen spinach or ½ lb. fresh spinach

If using fresh spinach, wash and cook in a covered pan until tender.  Frozen spinach just needs to be thawed out.  Squeeze out spinach until it’s as dry as possible, then chop it very fine.

Proceed just as you would with the basic pasta recipe, adding the spinach with the eggs and salt.

Be sure to have plenty of hot water when you make ravioli and salt the water, but don’t put olive oil in it.  When you think the ravioli are done, take one out, cut it in half and eat it.  🙂  Drain, top with your favorite sauce and enjoy.  I hope to be able to share my family’s favorite sauce with you if I get permission from the chef who shared it with our cooking class.    Mangia!!

Comments
  1. While I was in school, I lived in Little Italy, in an old Italian woman’s house who loved to have her student tenants over for dinner. Needless to say, pasta was always present: spaghetti, gnocchi or ravioli, always with delicious tomato sauce. She taught a couple of us how to make gnocchi even….. Oh, memories, food has the ability to always resurrect them.

  2. billgncs says:

    homemade ravioli has replaced all other choices for my favorite holiday course

  3. Emilio Pasquale says:

    My Italian great grandmother used to make pasta by hand. And though I was only four at the time, I remember her ravioli, and her, fondly! I also remember she would place the trays of ravioli under her bed so they’d be out of the way while drying.

    • Making pasta by hand isn’t difficult if you use a pasta machine. I have one that attaches to the edge of whatever you have and then you crank it, making the dough thinner each time. Using a rolling pin, which many older women undoubtedly did/do, takes much more skill.

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