I spent a ridiculously fun day cooking with my friends, Karen, Andrea and Lisa a few months ago. We made homemade ravioli and three different kinds of fillings. I bought myself a pasta roller for my birthday and needed some
guinea pigs err FRIENDS to test it out.
We made meat filling, spinach and cheese, and pear/Gorgonzola/ricotta filling which is based on a pear Gorgonzola bruschetta that I had at a restaurant and then recreated at home with a few tweaks.
We also made a basic marinara recipe to go with the meat and cheese ravs and a brown butter sage sauce for the pear Gorgonzola. (recipes to follow)
Trolling the Interwebs for ravioli dough recipes took the longest time. In general when recipe hunting, I spend waaaay too much time looking at other people’s comments when I should just try out the damn recipe for myself and decide if it works. In the end, we went with a basic egg dough. I think it may have been Mario Batali’s but I’m not even sure anymore. All I know is that we (and when I say we, I mean ME) decided that we were going to make the dough by hand. No mixers for us.
We all settled at the table with our 2 eggs (room temperature) and 1 3/4 cup of all purpose flour each. We also had a glass of ice water in case the dough needed a little loosening up. We probably used 1 or 2T of water. It just depends on the humidity of your work speace and the flour. Start with less, you can always add more.
It’s fair to say we had varying techniques of making the dough well and mixing, as you’ll see in photos below, but in the end, all the dough was fine and we couldn’t tell any difference between the batches.
Form your flour into a mound and then use your fingers (or the back of a spoon) to make a well in the middle. It should be about 1/4 of the way deep and wide enough to hold the eggs.
You could crack the eggs directly into the mound or into a bowl first.
At this point you could keep your eggs unscrambled and use your fingers (or a fork) to slowly incorporate the dough into the eggs OR you could mix them with a fork and then incorporate the flour.
Continue to add in flour from the walls of the well, combining but not over mixing.
Look at that technique!
Be careful of egg overflow if you don’t make your well large enough! Easy enough to scoop back up and continue though.
Dough balls. Some were not as tender as others, we’re not sure why, but once they all relaxed for abut 30 minutes, they were perfectly fine, plus the pasta roller does all of the hard work making the dough behave.
Fillings are the best part of ravioli! This was the first time I’ve ever made ravioli dough OR fillings, so it was certainly going to be an adventure. We (again, me…I’m so bossy) decided to make a meat filling, a cheese and spinach and I have been dreaming about turning my pear/Gorgonzola faux-bruscetta into a ravioli with a brown butter and sage sauce. So I found recipes for the meat filling and spinach and ricotta and well, I winged it with the pear/Gorgonzola.
1 pound ground beef
5 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (yes I’m a cheese snob)
1 clove garlic – minced
1 1/4 tablespoons fresh parsley (dried will work if that’s what you have)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large egg
1 pinch black pepper
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground beef.
- Cook and stir until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink.
- Drain and discard grease. I usually do this the night before so the meat is fully cooled but you can do it the day of, just make sure it’s cooled enough before you mix in the other ingredients.
- Place the cooked and cooled meat in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until the meat is crumbly.
- In a separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, minced garlic, freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano , fresh parsley, olive oil, egg, and pepper and mix together.
- Add the combined ingredients to the food processor pulse until the mixture resembles fine, moist crumbs. Some people recommend pureeing it until smooth, but I didn’t want pate ravioli.
The filling can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.
Ricotta and Spinach Filling
1 box frozen spinach, thawed
1 pound ricotta
1 egg – beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
- Place spinach in a clean dish towel and squeeze all the liquid out.
- Chop spinach finely.
- In a mixing bowl, combine chopped spinach, ricotta, egg, and grated cheese.
- Season with the nutmeg salt, and black pepper.
Pear and Gorgonzola filling
1 pound ricotta
1 egg – beaten
Pinch of fresh nutmeg
- Dice the pears into cubes.
- Saute pears in butter on low heat until they have softened and caramelized a little bit.
- Add the honey and pinches of nutmeg to the pears. Mix to combine. It should be a little juicy.
- Remove from heat and let cool for a while.
- Add cooled pears to the bowl of a food processor with ricotta, beaten egg and Gorgonzola crumbles.
- Pulse to combine. The filling should not be pureed and should retain some texture and pear pieces.
- Pour mixture into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add more nutmeg and honey if it needs a little more sweetness but it’s not a dessert ravioli so it shouldn’t be too sweet.
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 t sugar
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
*I almost always put my onions and garlic in the food processor and mostly puree them, I leave a small bit of texture. I find it flavors the sauce better*
- Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.
- Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until tender.
- Add oregano, basil and parsley (crush the leaves between your fingers to release the oils) and cook for about a minute.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and sugar.
- Stir to blend, reduce the heat to low and simmer for a few hours.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I always wait a while to do this to let the other flavors blend)
two cloves of garlic, sliced in half (you’ll remove them later)
- In a large skillet, melt butter over low heat.
- Add garlic.
- Cook until the butter starts to turn brown, be careful not to burn it. It will start to smell nutty.
- Add in chopped sage leaves and nutmeg. Stir and remove from heat.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove garlic
- Pour over ravioli, gently coating each one.
OK this was the really fun part. Your pasta roller will come with directions. READ THEM! You have to roll the pasta a few times on the largest setting and then you start rolling it through, thinning it out each time. We weren’t sure how thin to roll it, but decided that once we could see through the dough it was thin enough. This is a preference thing and something you’ll have to experiment with.
The cutting and sealing of the ravioli also took some time to master. Some of ours look very odd, but they tasted great. Since then I’ve gotten a few ravioli cutters, but I think the best tool is a ravioli wheel because it will seal and cut at the same time.
Thinning the dough. You do need lots of hands because the dough gets long and thin and it’s difficult to manage by yourself. One person can adjust the roller and crank the dough through and one can hold the dough as it comes through.
We placed the dough sheets on cooling racks so we could fill them easier.
Using a spoon, we dropped filling about one and half inches apart (again, this took a few tries to figure out)
Mmmm. Meat ravioli!
Mmmm. Spinach and ricotta ravioli!
We used an egg wash (one egg beaten with water) to glue the pasta sheets together.
After the egg wash, place second pasta sheet on and press down. Try to seal it as much as possible.
We used a pizza cutter to separate them. You can see that we didn’t get them all the same size. Oh well!
Because we didn’t have a ravioli cutter, we used a fork to seal the edges.
Finished ravioli! We let them rest for about 20 minutes before we cooked them.
Ravioli Three Ways!
Fresh basil for garnish.
We cooked the ravioli in large pots of boiling water, lightly salted. Fresh pasta cooks quickly and all of the fillings were already cooked (except for the eggs….if you’re concerned about that, use pasteurized eggs). Once the ravioli floated to the top, we cooked them for about 2 minutes longer and took them out.
The meat ravioli and spinach and cheese ravioli were carefully tossed in the marinara sauce and the pear/Gorgonzola ravioli were tossed in the brown butter.