A few evenings ago I had a strong desire for fettuccine with my some of my awesome alfredo sauce. Nothing fancy, fairly quick, and rather delicious. I thought about it for a few minutes, finishing up some work, trying to find a good pausing place. When I finished, I was filled with much anticipatory joy for the dish. Unfortunately I nearly started breaking things when I saw that my pantry lacked, of all things… pasta. I had a few options: give up, eat something else; go to the store and buy some pasta; or… make some, of course!
I had never made pasta before. I didn’t really know how to other than “add some flour, add some eggs.” So that’s what I did. I started off with way too much flour and not enough egg. Slowly I seemed to balance everything out correctly… my dough was smooth and elastic. I was so worked up in getting the right texture, that I didn’t really think to add anything to it, which I suppose is fine. After about an hour of playing and kneading, and another 40 minutes to let it settle, I had about 5 pounds more than I needed. I broke some off – a workable chunk – and realized that I didn’t have a dough roller. That sucked, but I ended up dismantling a table with a smooth cylindrical leg, which worked fine.
After about 20 minutes of rolling, the dough was flat enough to start cutting. By hand I cut enough fettuccine-esq pieces to satisfy my appetite, and well, tossed the other 5 pounds of dough away – a good learning experience – at least now I know a good ratio. Then after about 10 minutes of boiling, I tossed it with my sauce, and – eugh. It was “okay.” The pasta was way over done and just creepy. But the sauce was good, and I was hungry, so I ate it.
But this experience left me curious. I wanted to make good pasta, and tonight I struck gold. I decided this time to try ravioli – at least it wouldn’t be as annoying to cut by hand. I also decided to play with flavor and color a little too, and strove to be less messy (use a mixing bowl, instead of the counter). What I ended up with was just amazing, and honestly probably one of the very best pasta dishes I have ever had. I guess the whole point of this post is to share my new-found-impromptu ravioli, so here it is:
In a large mixing bowl, mix together very well:
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- ~1 teaspoon salt
- A few good shakes of fresh ground pepper and paprika
- A small handful of finely chopped fresh spinach
In another bowl, mix:
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- About half of another egg yolk for darker color, save the white for glue later
Then pour the egg into the mixing bowl, and mix, knead, pound, sweat, roll, fold, and stir, dusting with flour as you go. I did this by hand for about 20 minutes non-stop until it was smooth and elastic. Mold a nice ball, dust with flour, and brush on some olive oil. Cover in plastic wrap, and let it sit for about 40 minutes. Move on to the filling.
Three words: beef, spinach, cheese. Delightful. Brown some lean ground beef, season lightly. In a mixing bowl, combine one “thing” (tub, maybe a cup, cup and a half) of ricotta cheese, about two cups of mozzarella, and maybe a cup or two of fresh parmesan. Splash in some olive oil, salt, pepper, whatever and mix. Add the ground beef when it’s done, make sure it’s really broken up. Then grab two or three handfuls of fresh spinach, and coarsely chop and add to the beefcheese. Mix it all well.
After the dough is ready, roll it out, really thin, and mark the dough in half. Cover one half with a light coating of egg wash (the saved egg white from earlier). On the other half, place generous portions of filling, spaced about 1.5-2 inches apart. Fold the egg-washed side of the dough on top of the filling side, and press into individual raviolis. Cut them out, but leave most of the excess dough on the piece — it’s delicious. Boil them for about 5-6 minutes (FRESH pasta, something I should have thought about with the fettuccine). As soon as you start boiling, begin preparing the plates. I put a light layer of mozzarella and parmesan on the plate with some fresh chopped parsley. When the ravioli is done, place them on the cheese plate, and coat with more cheese, a light coating of olive oil, cracked pepper, and some more parsley. I prepared them large enough that 2-3 pieces is filling and large enough to cover a plate.
EAT. It was amazing.
I wasn’t sure if I should make a sauce or not, but honestly, I didn’t have the timing of the meal down properly to allow for making a sauce without letting something sit when it would be better consumed hot and fresh. But the pasta itself has so much flavor, that a dusting of cheese and oil is all it needs. The filling melts in your mouth. It’s just awesome.
The recipe left me with about 12 pieces of large ravioli. I only cooked and ate three, and am going to see if they keep in the fridge for tomorrow for lunch – just need to boil them. I wish I had taken a picture.
So now I’m thinking…
Dear Lazy Web: I need a pasta machine. I like making pasta now, but spending an hour making the dough, and another thirty minutes rolling it sucks. Any suggestions?
Oh, I’m releasing Banshee 0.11.0 next Monday. MUCH more to come on that, very soon. Readers be warned