Pasta. It’s the proverbial comfort food. Who can resist a warm bowl of noodles, smothered in sauce or topped with a light dusting of Parmesan cheese? Make it filled-pasta, and you are sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters with fresh pillows of ricotta, or any variety of other flavors.
Pasta. It’s glorious. And my friends decided to fuel my love of cooking by giving me a pasta maker for my birthday this year. The machine is beautiful. It is silver and red – my ideal colors for future kitchen (my goal in life is to own a red, Kitchen Aid stand mixer – I think it would get along nicely with the pasta machine).While it is definitely MUCH easier to use a pasta machine to roll out your dough, I imagine that it can be done by hand, but I would be prepared for a workout! You want your sheets pretty thin.
Anyway, after playing around with my latest kitchen appliance over break, I decided to try and make ravioli last night with my friends S & YC.
I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the recipe that I used over break (it was a bit too dry), so we used one of Lidia Bastianich’s recipes for the dough and then made up our own spinach and ricotta filling. I had read somewhere that, for the amount of dough we were making, we would need about a pound of cooked spinach and a pound of ricotta to fill the pasta, but we definitely used a LOT more than that. We needed an extra pound of ricotta to finish all of the pasta and made some that were just ricotta-filled (but still delicious!). I’ve altered the recipe to reflect what I expect to be more accurate measurements for the filling.
I think one reason that I love Italian food so much is that it is often meant to be shared – and this dish definitely holds true to that standard! This recipe makes a LOT of pasta, so I suggest either freezing the extra ravioli in a single layer on a floured baking sheet before putting into freezer bags or feeding a large crowd the same night that you make these (we easily fed seven hungry people). I like to think this was an overall success.
So go forth, make pasta. Or at least feed your friends. If they are as hungry as mine were, I am sure that they will appreciate it!
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli
For the Pasta
- 3 cups flour
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
For the filling
- 2 lbs of baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 onion – finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1bs ricotta
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Pecorino
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Coarse salt and black pepper to taste
To make your dough:
- Beat together your eggs, olive oil and salt.
- Place about 2 and 2/3 cup flour on your work surface (I used a cleaned, marble countertop) and make a well. Pour the egg mixture into the center of the well, and slowly begin to work in your flour. This can get a bit messy, but don’t worry if you screw up a bit and you wind up with a little bit of stray egg, you can pick it up with the dough (I totally did this). Do try to be careful not to break the wall, however, as it makes your job a lot easier. Once the eggs are no longer runny, you can stop worrying about the wall and begin to incorporate the flour more rapidly.
- Begin to knead the dough, using your knuckles to push it away from you then work into a ball. Repeat this process until you wind up with a smooth, elastic dough. Let your dough rest for about half an hour under a slightly damp kitchen towel. As the dough rests, make your filling.
For the filling:
- In a pan over medium heat, heat your olive oil. Add in your onions and saute until translucent and just starting to turn golden.
- Add in your spinach. Cook until wilted and then remove from heat.
- Transfer your spinach and onions to a plate and let cool completely.
- In a large bowl, combine your ricotta with the remaining ingredients. Once the spinach is cool, add to the ricotta mix – stirring to distribute evenly (spinach has a tendency to clump together). Set aside until your pasta is ready to roll out.
Making the ravioli:
- After the dough has rest for at least half an hour, cut the dough into half, then cut each half into thirds. With your hands, shape one piece of the dough into a rough rectangle. Place the remaining dough underneath the damp towel until you are ready to use it.
- Starting on the widest setting of the pasta machine, begin to roll out your dough. Roll the dough through twice; then, fold into thirds and roll through once more.
- Change the setting on your machine to the next thinnest. Once again, roll the pasta through the machine. Fold in thirds, then repeat.
- Continue to change the settings and roll the pasta through until the sheet has gone through the thinnest setting, but note that you no longer need to fold the dough into thirds. I usually cut the sheet in half at the next-to-last setting in order to make my sheets of dough more manageable.
- Lay your finished sheets on a floured surface. Continue with the remainder of the dough.
- Working fairly quickly, place about 3/4 tablespoons of filling about 1.5 inches apart on the top half of your sheet of pasta. Make sure that you leave about a 1/2 inch edge on the sheet.
- Fold over the bottom half, then apply pressure between each pile of filling in order to seal the dough. Finally, seal the edge.
- Using a pizza cutter, slice your ravioli, cutting off and discarding any excess pasta, while making sure that all edges are sealed. Place on a floured baking sheet until ready to cook.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the ravioli, cooking about ten at a time and removing each with a slotted spoon after they have come to the surface of the water (this takes about 2-3 minutes).
- Toss your ravioli with olive oil to make sure it doesn’t stick! I paired the pasta with a quick tomato sauce (whose recipe I will post in the near future) and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.