Hand-made ravioli

Yesterday I attempted making hand-made pasta for the first time. I don’t have a pasta machine (or the attachment for my mixer) so I was always hesitant to give it a try but I was feeling inspired yesterday! My conclusion: hand-made pasta is HARD WORK! No wonder all those Italian grandma’s have arms like they do! You have to knead, knead, knead, then knead some more and then rolling it out by hand with a rolling pin takes FOREVER and involves the use of some serious muscle. BUT, it was soooo good!

Note: if you’re going to make the ricotta filling, you should start straining the ricotta cheese the day before to remove the extra moisture from the cheese. To do this, just put it in a strainer with a bowl under it, cover it with cling-wrap and throw it in the fridge over-night.

Home-made pasta:

2 1/2 cups Tipo ’00’ flour (a finer ground flour that is great for pasta and pizza dough. I have read that if you can’t find this flour, all-purpose flour will work just fine.)

6 large eggs

Directions:

Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little bit of the flour at a time, until it is all mixed in. Knead the pasta, knead, knead, knead some more until the dough changes from rough and floury to smooth and silky. You have to knead to develop the gluten in the dough so the pasta will be springy and al dente (apparently if you under-knead, it will be flabby and soft). This takes some time and work. You have to really mash the dough around for quite a while but you will feel the difference in the dough when it is done.

Wrap the pasta in cling-wrap and throw it in the fridge for at least half an hour before you work with it (make sure it’s completely covered by the cling wrap to prevent the dough from drying out – it dries out VERY quickly so this is important).

Ricotta filling:

While your pasta dough is hanging out in the fridge, you can go ahead and make your filling.

Container of ricotta cheese

1 egg

Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix it all up and throw it back in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Rolling the pasta

If you have a pasta machine, use it to roll your pasta out. Otherwise, throw some flour down on your board, grab your rolling pin, and get ready for a workout! Since I was making ravioli, I divided the pasta into 3 chunks and worked with each separately (I re-wrapped the two I was not working with at the moment in cling-wrap to prevent it from drying out). Start rolling. You really need to put your weight behind it and you’ll notice the pasta retracting on itself so just keep rolling (it took me awhile to get it rolled out – I’m not kidding in the slightest when I say it will be a workout). You want to roll your pasta as thin as possible for ravioli (as close to paper-thin as you can get before your arms give out on you!).

Putting it all together:

Beat 2 eggs in a bowl to be used for your egg wash.

I used a drinking glass to cut out my ravioli (should have taken a picture…), but you can use a cookie cutter or a crimper. I covered my cut pieces of pasta with a damp, clean tea towel (again to prevent it from drying out) until I was ready to use them.

Brush the top surface of each of your ravioli rounds with egg wash, drop 1 Tbsp of chilled filling onto one round and then top it with another round, pressing the edges to seal them (it’s important to make sure they are sealed all around, otherwise the filling will leak out while they are cooking).

Cook the ravioli in plenty of boiling, salted water for 10-15 minutes. Use a large pot and lot’s of water to prevent over-crowding the ravioli as it will float to the top when it is ready (mine floated to the top a bit early – after about 5 minutes – and seemed to be trying to trick me into thinking they were done – I tested one and left them in for 5 more minutes and they were perfectly al dente!).

Using a slotted spoon, lift the ravioli from the water, place the pasta on a plate and top with your favourite sauce (I used a vodka sauce – I’ll post that recipe another day) and some fresh grated parmesan.

Enjoy with a glass of wine and salad (and brushetta if you want to completely carb-load!)

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