Last week when I was having my “totally homemade meal” kick, I also knew that I wanted to make pasta dough and transform it into ravioli. Homemade pasta is one of those things that is just so remarkably different from its dried counterpart that it should be in a category all on its own. While I appreciate the ease and simplicity of tossing a bag of penne into a pot of boiling salted water and topping it with a little garlic and olive oil, I also really love the process of mixing some eggs into flour and after some time and some coaxing, eating a plate of homemade pasta.
After researching ravioli filling, I decided that it would be easy to just whip up my own creation. After buying some garlic chives at the market and knowing how much I love spicy italian sausage, I was well on my way to a tasty ravioli filling. I took 1 link of sausage, removed it from its casing and browned the meat. Then I added probably a tablespoon of finely diced garlic chives to the pan and a dash of olive oil. After a minute or two, I turned the heat off and mixed half a container of whole milk ricotta with 1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan and 1 egg in a bowl. After the sausage mixture was cooled, I folded it into the cheese and salted and peppered to taste. Perfect ravioli filling.
After I rolled out the pasta dough, I used a teaspoon of filling and made ravioli. Some cut with a ravioli cutter, others just cut more free form. I will admit that my pasta sheets weren’t really rectangle and it was a little difficult to make the ravioli but I am sure that it will get easier with more practice. The best part of this meal ironically was not the ravioli, but the sauce. I found a recipe for arugula and goat cheese ravioli on Gourmet and while I knew Dave wouldn’t be too keen on the filling, the brown butter pine nut sauce sounded to perfect to pass up. Tomorrow I will tell you what I made with the leftover ravioli filling and pasta dough when I had made enough ravioli for two. So make up a batch of pasta dough so you are ready.
Pasta Dough for Ravioli (or any other fresh pasta dish)
Adapted from Perfect Pasta recipe on King Arthur Flour’s Perfect Pasta Blend Bag
3 cups Perfect Pasta Blend
4 large eggs
2 to 4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup flour (use this for the work surface-I had leftover blend flour on the counter to work with)
Dump the 3 cups of pasta blend flour into a mound on your work surface. Dig out a hole in the middle to create a well for the eggs. Crack the 4 eggs into the bowl and give them a quick whisk to break of the yolks. Pour the eggs into the mound, carefully, to make sure you don’t break down any of the sides. With a fork, carefully start mixing in flour with the egg, keeping your hand on the side of the well so that the wall stays intact. Gourmet has created a very helpful how -to video to show this technique. Once the egg is incorporated into the flour, begin to knead the dough by hand, until the dough is smooth and elastic. This could take 5 to 10 minutes so you get the added bonus of a little upper body workout. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes. Or place in the fridge if you aren’t using it right away, but allow it to come to room temperature before you begin to roll it out into sheets.
I have the Kitchen Aid Pasta attachment, but use whatever pasta roller (rolling pin) you have. Cut the ball of dough into 8 equal pieces. Flatten the piece into a rectangle and feed it through the roller on its widest setting. Then fold the piece in half and feed it through, repeating this process 8 to 10 times. After you have made a piece about the width of your rollers, you are ready to make it into one long sheet. Feed the dough through the rollers once, decreasing the width setting incrementally, until its it down to its thinest setting. Don’t worry if the sheets aren’t perfect, rustic looking still tastes delicious.
Place the sheet on a well floured kitchen towel on a baking sheet. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling (recipe below) about 2 inches apart on of the pasta sheet. Once you are done placing the filling, halve lengthwise to cover the filling to create the ravioli. Press out as much air as possible and press the pieces together with a ravioli cutter or with a knife. I used both methods.
Bring water to bowl in a pasta pot, salted. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and slip in the ravioli. It might be easier to cook half at a time. After 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, draining the water and place ravioli in skillet with brown butter (or any other sauce). Repeat with remaining ravioli. Pour ravioli into a bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan.
Garlic Chive, Sausage, Ricotta Filling
A Whitney in Chicago original
1 link of spicy pork italian sausage (or your favorite italian sausage style), casing removed
1/2 15oz container of whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 tablespoon diced garlic chives (or traditional chives with a finely diced clove of garlic)
freshly cracked pepper
Brown sausage in a skillet, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon. Once cooked through, drain the grease if there is a lot but leave enough to cook the garlic/chives or garlic chives. Add a little olive oil to the pan and add the garlic chives to the pan. Cook for a minute or so and remove from heat.
Combine ricotta, egg, and parmesan in a bowl with a fork. Fold in slightly cooled sausage mixture. Season with salt and pepper (and maybe crushed red pepper flakes) to taste. Set aside until ready to make ravioli (or use in a lasagna filling).
Brown Butter Pine Nut Sauce
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/3 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 oz)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped arugula
Heat butter in a skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook pine nuts, stirring frequently, until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, pepper, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and oil, and use a spatula to combine. Remove from heat until ravioli are ready.