The days leading to Easter this year are not what they used to be. No epic grocery shopping trips, no elaborate menu planning, no festive family gatherings. Our days still have their ups and downs and it is hard not to feel overwhelmed with the uncertainty of the days that lay ahead.
Worrying and just sitting around waiting is not helpful. I read recently that, “we should find out what we are good at and use this time to improve our skills”. Then, practice, and practice some more! This is the perfect time to learn something new: subscribe to an online course, watch a tutorial, revisit your favorite cookbooks, learn a new technique, or, improve on a skill you already have.
With all these in mind, and with the little extra time we have on our hands imposed on us through self-isolation, I thought that now is the perfect time to learn how to make fresh ravioli at home. This way, when this current crisis is behind us, we can look back and remember the time we learned or improved on this skill!
The ingredients we are going to need to make fresh ravioli at home
The filling we are going to make for these ravioli is a simple mixture of ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and orange zest. I typically make the filling a day or two in advance, to make things easier on the day that I make the pasta. If you are left with extra ricotta filling, you can easily freeze what you do not use. You can also make the pasta dough in advance and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a day.
Rolling the pasta dough
About Manual Pasta Machines
Although you can easily roll fresh pasta with a rolling pin to make the sheets of pasta, a simple pasta machine makes the process much faster. A pasta machine is a good investment to make!
Pasta machines have a base that you can anchor to a table or a kitchen counter. You then use a crank that you turn to rotate two rollers, feeding the dough through them in order to flatten it. At the other side of the machine, there is a knob that allows you to adjust the distance between the rollers, which controls the thickness of your pasta sheet. When the sheet of pasta is as thin as you want it to be, you can use the dough to make lasagna or different kinds of stuffed pasta like ravioli. You can also use the pasta cutting attachment to make fettuccine or narrow, angel hair pasta.
If you have been thinking about purchasing a hand-cranked pasta machine, there are several good quality, affordable options on the market. Two of my favorite pasta machines are the Marcato Atlas 150 Wellness and the Imperia Pasta Maker. Both brands are made in Italy.
Forming the Ravioli
How to Make Fresh Pasta Dough
- 1 lb. (3¾ cups) AP flour (or Italian superfine “00” pasta flour)
- 4 whole eggs, plus 1 yolk
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1-2 TBSP. water
- To make a small batch of fresh pasta for two:
- ¾ cup AP flour
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 TBSP. extra virgin olive oil.
- Put the flour on a clean and dry work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour pile that is about 8 inches wide. Crack all of the eggs and the yolk into the hole and add the olive oil, salt and water.
- Use a fork beat the eggs together with the olive oil, water and salt. Using the fork, begin to incorporate the flour into the egg mixture; be careful not to break the sides of the well or the egg mixture will run all over your board and you will have a big mess! When enough flour has been incorporated into the egg mixture that it will not run all over the place when the sides of the well are broken, begin to use your hands to get everything well combined.
- If the mixture is tight and dry, wet your hands and begin kneading with wet hands. When the dough has come together to a homogeneous mixture, you can start kneading. (To make the smaller batch of fresh pasta (12 ravioli), follow the same steps of the recipe and don’t be afraid to add a bit of water if necessary, to achieve the right consistency.)
- Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest for at least half an hour and up to an hour.
2. When kneading, it is important to put your body weight into it; get on top of the dough to really stretch it and not to tear the dough. Using the heels of your palms, roll the dough to create smooth, supple dough. When done, the dough should look very smooth and feel velvety. Kneading will usually take about 10-12 minutes. This is where the perfect, toothsome texture of your pasta is formed (alternatively, you can use your stand mixer or food processor to make your dough).
How to Make Homemade Orange – Ricotta Ravioli with a brown butter and crispy sage sauce
- For the ravioli dough:
- 1 recipe fresh pasta dough (recipe above)
- For the filling:
- 1 lb. best quality whole milk ricotta cheese, drained if wet
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- --- zest of one medium orange
- --- pinch nutmeg
- 1 lrg. egg
- --- --- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- For the sauce:
- 6 TBSP. butter
- 6 ---- sage leaves, minced
- --- ---- salt and pepper
- --- ---- Parmesan cheese (for serving)
- Make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the first four ingredients and the egg. Season with salt and pepper, stir well and set aside. (You can make this ahead of time)
- Roll the pasta dough: Cut the dough into four pieces and cover with some plastic wrap. Roll out each piece, one at a time, using a rolling pin so it will fit the widest opening of the pasta machine. Fold the dough over in thirds and feed it through the machine, open side first. Pass it through the widest opening twice. Proceed through most of the gradations of the pasta machine. Once the pasta dough stretches and becomes too long to handle, cut it in half. Lightly flour the sheets of pasta with a little cornmeal or flour, lay them on flour-dusted sheet pans and cover while you work with the rest of the pasta sheets.
- Form the ravioli: Place spoonfuls of the filling about an inch apart onto the pasta sheets. With a brush or a small water bottle, lightly wet the area around the filling. Top with another sheet, firmly pressing the pasta around each spoonful of filling, making sure that no air is trapped inside (alternatively, fold each sheet of pasta over the filling). Cut out the ravioli, using a round cookie cutter, a square one or a specialty ravioli cutter. Pinch the edges of each one to make sure each is completely sealed before cooking.
- Prepare the Butter and Sage Sauce:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Make the sauce (while the water boils): In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat and then add the sage, the salt and the pepper. Sauté the sage briefly, until it becomes crispy and the butter is browned.
- Cook the ravioli: When the water comes to a boil, add the ravioli all at once and stir gently to submerge and separate them. Cook at a gentle boil, (so they don’t open) uncovered, for about three minutes. Lift the ravioli from the pot and add them straight to the skillet. Add a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and serve at once.
If you love pasta, I know that you will love fresh, homemade pasta even more! If you would prefer to use store-bought ravioli instead, then I have a great recipe for ravioli with brown butter and crispy sage on the blog too.
Wishing you all a Happy Easter! Take care of yourselves and each other!
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