In an attempt to be somewhat productive today, I decided to make baguettes and homemade pasta. I haven't made ravioli in years and thought I would attempt it again. The last time resulted in a few exploded pieces of pasta with a ground turkey/sage filling floating around the pot. My past experience did not dissuade me. The pasta dough is easy enough. Flour, egg, and a little water. Couldn't be easier. The secret, I discovered, to good pasta dough is to let it rest for about 30 minutes after it's mixed and kneaded a bit. That made a huge difference in the texture of the dough. It rolled out beautifully in my little manual pasta roller.
I decided to wing a cheese filling, a filling based on the cheese mixture I use for lasagna and manicotti. A little ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, salt & pepper, and lots of fresh parsley.
I wasn't sure what sauce to use for the ravioli. I just started cooking up some thinly sliced garlic in some olive oil (put the garlic in the olive oil in a cold skillet and slowly heat - the garlic gets almost sweet and nutty), hoping inspiration would strike. I added a can of diced tomatoes, and for some reason, decided to add a little balsamic vinegar. The flavor was amazing! A little salt & pepper to round out the flavor, and it turned out to be the perfect sauce for my little ravioli.
Try this. You will be so happy you did!!
Three Cheese Ravioli
Yield: 72 ravioli
3 cups flour
Sift flour into a mixing bowl. Beat eggs, Gradually add eggs to flour, mixing with a spoon. As mixture becomes lumpy, begin to press together and knead with your hands. If mixture seems too dry and grainy, add one tablespoon of water at a time until mixture holds together in a ball. Removing dough from the mixing bowl, begin to knead dough for 2 minutes on a lightly floured board or table top. Cut dough in halves, cover with a bowl or a dampened cloth and allow dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the half sections of dough in half again. Take the quarter section of dough and flatten with your hand as much as possible. Pass the dough through the rollers of a pasta machine four times with the rollers set at the widest setting, folding the dough each time into thirds. Set to the next thinner setting and pass the dough through. Repeat this process until dough is about the thickness of the edge of a knife blade.
Three Cheese Filling
16 ounces ricotta
4 ounces mozzarella, cut into small dice
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
salt & pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients until well combined and refrigerate.
Using a ravioli maker, place one sheet of dough over the form, making sure the dough overlaps all cutting edges. With the molding plate, gently press to form pockets. Using a pastry brush, brush a little water around the perimeter of each ravioli pocket. Fill each pocket with a scant teaspoon of cheese filling. Cover with a second sheet of pasta dough, and roll over the top of the form with a rolling pin, sealing each ravioli. Turn form over and release ravioli.
Cook ravioli in 4 - 5 quarts of well-salted, boiling water for 3-1/2 to 5 minutes. Add sauce and serve.
Balsamic Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 - 8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
28 ounces diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
chopped Italian parsley, for garnish, optional
chopped basil, for garnish, optional
In a cold skillet, add olive oil and sliced garlic. Heat on low and slowly cook garlic until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drain ravioli, plate and top with sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and basil. Serve.