Friday, January 8, 2010
One of the things I've always wanted to do in the kitchen was to make fresh pasta. Well for Christmas this year, Bec bought me my very own pasta machine! Not the silly Ron Popeil machine, although we did buy one for my mom when I was a kid, but a real hand-crank Italian pasta machine. I've been seeing chefs on PBS make their own pasta since I was a kid and they made it look so easy. Well, guess what, it IS easy! 2 cups of flour, 3 eggs, 30 seconds in the food processor, and viola!, you have fresh pasta dough. You have to knead it for a minute or two until it's smooth, then let it rest for at least 15 minutes before you roll it into whatever pasta you want. This pasta machine (made by Atlas) comes with two "cutters", fettuccine and spaghetti. Of course you can just roll it into thin sheets for lasagna or ravioli or whatever other stuffed pasta you want to make. I will be tackling tortellini at some point soon.
I've made fettuccine and spaghetti three times now, and am feeling pretty confident handling the dough so I thought I'd give ravioli a try. It came out so well I decided to blog it instead of wait until I've perfected it, since they came out almost perfect! You can make a big batch of these and freeze them, they'll be the best frozen ravioli's you've ever had. I used this recipe below and had leftover pasta dough, next time I make it, I will double the filling recipe. I think there were 22 ravioli's in this batch, I could have gotten 24 if I rolled out a little more dough though. So next time I'll be getting close to 50! Who wants to come over and eat some ravioli?
Pasta Dough (from Cook's Illustrated's The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
Pulse the flour in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade to evenly distribute. Add the eggs; process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds. (If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time; if the dough sticks to the side of the workbowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and process until the dough forms a rough ball.)
Turn the dough ball and small bits out onto a dry work surface; knead until the dough is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap (or place in a sandwich bag) and set aside for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours to relax.
Ravioli w/ basic Ricotta filling (also from Cook's Illustrated's The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles)
1 batch of fresh pasta dough (see above)
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. (Can be covered and refrigerated overnight.)
Cut off about 1/6th of the pasta dough, flatten into a rough disc shape and feed it through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Fold dough into thirds, rotate 90 degrees, and feed through pasta machine again. Repeat. Next roll through widest setting twice, if the dough is at all sticky, sprinkle with a little flour. Continue feeding dough through center of machine, each time closing the rollers one step. Continue until you've rolled it through the smallest setting. You want the sheet to be about 4 inches wide, so trim the edges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife so its a rough rectangle. Place small balls of filling (about 1 rounded teaspoon) in line on the pasta sheet 1 inch from the bottom, leaving 1 1/4 inches between each ball of filling.
Fold over the top of the pasta and line up with the bottom edge. Seal the bottom and two open sides with your finger. Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut along the two sides and bottom of each ravioli.
Place on a floured cooking sheet until you are ready to cook them. Use plenty of water to boil your ravioli, do not overcrowd the pot. If used right away, they only take 2-3 minutes to cook. You can make large batches and freeze them on cookie sheets, then transfer to freezer bags once frozen, for longer storage. Just add a minute or two to the cooking time when cooking frozen. Serve with your favorite tomato sauce!
Download a printable recipe here!