Making pasta is one of those things that are in their essence connected to a certain kind of calm happiness. I suppose that preparing and rolling pasta requires attention, time and quite the bit of love.
This is not something to make for a dinner party or a large group of people, but rather for a very special dinner date, on a weekend day where you have all time to yourself.
Then, considering all of this, why would you want to go through all of this? Well, I think the reason is that it is very therapeutic to make something this beautiful, and on top of that (and maybe way more important), it will make a meal to remember. 🙂
Now that I have the luxury of some time on my hands before I officially start my new job here in Frankfurt (!), I was happy to pull out my pasta machine again after a long time.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from the book called Everything you need to know about Pasta
, which I consider a really good book, rather opposite to the rather over-saturated amount of work written on the subject.
The book is getting old (and I am afraid a little dirty and dusty with flour), but I keep getting back to it, sometimes just for its beautiful prints, but most often to get some inspiration for Italian classics.
Making ravioli is taking the pasta project a step further. In case this is the first time you are making pasta, I would suggest you start of with a simple pappardelle, lasagna sheets, or spaghetti.
The ravioli pillows tend to behave a little unruly and having a bit of experience with pasta dough in general will make this a bit easier.
The indication is the amount of pasta per portion
- 100 grams 00 type flour (pasta flour)
- 1 large egg
- 0,25 tablespoon of olive oil
- 0,25 tablespoon of salt
The reason I add olive oil is so that the dough is easier to handle, and won’t dry out as fast as it would without the addition of some oil.
Rather lovely is to add freshly ground black pepper, or green herbs, but because the dough is used to make tortellini here, I haven’t because it might break up the evenness of the dough and cause leakages.
In a large bowl, mix the ingredients by hand. While kneading, the gluten will develop and change into a very coherent dough. It might seem tempting to add more flour at the start as the mixture might seem on the moist side, resist this however, as the flour will absorb more and more and it might just be that it all turns out perfect without any addition.
Having said that, all doughs and eggs are different, as well as the humidity or climate you are making it, so the key is to rely on your judgment.
I have found that using 100% pasta (typo 00) flour will make the best end result, with firm pasta and a dough that is easy to work with. As this type of flour can be expensive or hard to find, you could consider replacing it (partly) with plain flour. I have tried this a couple of times, but would advise to use real pasta flour, as it is almost not worth making this compromise, considering you are already taking the effort to make this pasta.
After kneading the dough for around 10 minutes (or as long as is needed to form a ball), wrap it tightly in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour. This resting part is essential, as it will give the eggs the change to work with the rest of the dough and to further develop. After resting, the dough will be much easier to handle (in case you are tempted to skip this step).
I made a dough out of 500 grams of flour and simply divided it into two portions. The dough will hold in the freezer as well, as long as it is tightly wrapped.
After the dough has rested, work it into a long thing piece of pasta. The easiest way is to use a (good-quality) pasta machine, working from setting 1 to thickness number 5 or 6.
After you have made the long sheets of pasta, you can chose to cut it into long ribbons (papperdelle, taglietelle or even into spaghetti), or you can use it to build a lasagna.
Alternatively, and to make the project even more challenging, you can continue into making ravioli (yay!).
After you finish your product, lay the ribbons or pasta in semolina. This will prevent the pasta from sticking to your board, counter or anything else, while the semolina will simply fall off when the pasta hits the boiling water, and will therefore not affect the taste of the finished product.
You can now let the pasta dry complete on a little rack (they come in all sorts of very scientific looking forms in your average department store), or you can use it right away.
Let the pasta cook in well-salted water, until the strands start to float. Depending on the drying time, this might vary from 3-6 minutes.
This filling is only a rough indication, and is easily adaptable to your liking
200 grams of smoked salmon, chopped in little pieces
150 grams of creamcheese
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch of chives, chopped
Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and make sure it is easy to scoop. Use around one teaspoon per ravioli pillow.
Key to succesfully making ravioli (or any kind of stuffed pasta) is to not overfill it, to make sure no airpockets are cought in the pieces (the air will expand in the boiling water and will cause the piece to burst and to cry all of its filling into your cooking water) and to treat them with the most care possible.
I used a ravioli ‘stamp’ to cut out the pieces, but you could just as easily use a glass with the width of your liking.
Use the pasta sheets that you have rolled. Make sure the sheets of pasta that are not directly using, will not dry out. The easiest way to do this, is by covering them with a clean tea towel.
The way I am making ravioli, is to drop little bits of filling onto the pasta sheet, then I gently fold over the dough and press the pasta together around the filling, taking care that no air is cought in, and that the pasta sheet does not break anywhere. After I make sure everything is alright by looking it up closely (sorry, this is probably not very Italian, but hey I am just an amateur;)), I proceed by cutting out the round shapes. After that, I take each piece in my hand and reassure that all sides are closed properly. I then lie the individual raviolis out on a tray with a little layer of semolina, so that they can dry a bit and won’t stick to the surface.
There is no need to put them in the fridge, I would rather suggest to let them dry in your kitchen, as the humidity of your fridge might affect the pasta dough.
I find that the raviolis cook better after they have air-dried for a little while, as they seem to be firmer and easier to handle.
The little pieces of dough that will be leftover after you have cut out the raviolis, can be used to role a new sheet of pasta and make an even larger batch of raviolis.
Cook the raviolis by carefully lowering them into well-salted boiling water. The very temperamental raviolis might even tend to stick to the bottom of your pan. Try to prevent this by moving the water as you would when poaching an egg. You could try to cook the ravioli in batches to prevent them from sticking to each other.
They are ready when they float. Drain and eat with some butter, sauteed vegetables and maybe even a sprinkle of chopped up herbs. Enjoy your achievement and, it can’t be said enough, celebrate your victory! 🙂